Wordsworth, Parody, Print and Posterity, 1814-1822

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Between 1814 and 1822 Wordsworth began to achieve a new status in the public eye: not the “simple” Wordsworth of the earlier part of his career, but a poet proudly superior to a degraded print culture that found little place for him. During the same period Wordsworth was subject to an astonishing number of parodies: 33. This article presents parodies previously unconsidered by scholars. It uses the relationship between Wordsworth and his parodists to explore the seeming paradox that a poet known for his rejection of publicity should be so publicly prominent, and that he should be subject to a form, parody, that depends on public recognition of its subject. I show, through discussion of these parodies and Wordsworth’s publications in this period, that rather than an opposition between high-minded poetry and parodies in the periodical press, the unstable nature of parody points to a far more flexible and mobile relationship on both sides. Wordsworth’s parodists parodied a poet who anticipated their methods; they help us see how tentatively, and humorously, Wordsworth engaged with his age’s popular print, and considered poetry’s capacity to reach an audience beyond the print market in which it first appeared.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601--618
JournalEuropean Romantic Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018

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