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This study views the early work of William Wordsworth as partaking in a general Western European cultural movement in which the realm of the numinous is translocated from heaven to earth - grand Nature - and from there further on into Man's inner Nature. In this metaphysical implosion the concept of the Sublime gradually comes to signify the mental, godlike powers of Man.
Wordsworth's early work represents a highly original contribution to this decisive evolution. In a chronologically ordered close reading of a number of key texts, especially The Prelude of 1799, Klaus P. Mortensen demonstrates how Wordsworth transforms the common notions of the Sublime by creating a deeply personal, anti-dualistic interpretation of the relationship of subject and object, Mind and Nature. In this process, culminating in 1798-1799, Wordsworth turns to his own youth and discovers how his imagination was created and shaped in early experiences of Nature prior to language and self-awareness - in the time of unrememberable being, as Wordsworth names it in a fragment from 1798. On that basis Wordsworth developed his own vision of correspondence between Mind and Nature in a recurrent figurative pattern involving landscape or natural phenomena reflected in water. The book concludes by describing how this pattern and the associated ideas of correspondence were literally shattered in 1804-1805, never to regain their original power.
Klaus P. Mortensen is a professor at The Royal Danish School of Educational Studies and the author of a number of books primarily on 19th century Danish Literature.
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