The Harmonic Conceit: Music, Nature and Mind in Wordsworth’s Prelude

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 63)


Phenomenology, as a theoretical framework applied to literature, has alerted us to the complex interrelation of reader and writer in the production, formation and reception of a text. My study of Wordsworth is here in the area of the poet’s own ideas about perception, and more importantly self-perception. The Prelude, Wordsworth’s long autobiographical poem, (I am working from the 1805 version) is itself a writing of the poet’s own life — a self-perception — though it is not traditional autobiography, in the sense of a linear rendering of experience and circumstance. Events are out of order, sometimes repeated, and experiences are conflated. There are aspects of the poet’s life curiously absent or reworked, confounding those readers past and present who expect a confessional autobiography like St. Augustine’s or Rousseau’s.


Unify Force Musical Harmony Natural Harmony Musical Line Linear Rendering 
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Works Cited

  1. Bartlett, Brian. “ `Inscrutable Workmanship’: Music and Metaphors of Music in The Prelude and The Excursion.” The Wordsworth Circle,1986 Summer, 17:3, 175–180.Google Scholar
  2. Common Bible. Revised Standard Version. New York: Collins, 1973.Google Scholar
  3. Frye, Northrop. “The Motive for Metaphor.” Influential Writing. Eds. William Connor and Maurice Legris. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1995.Google Scholar
  4. Wordsworth, William. “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintem Abbey.” Romanticism: An Anthology. Duncan Wu, ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. 240–244.Google Scholar
  5. Wordsworth, William The Prelude. Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams and Stephen Gill, Eds. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of FloridaEdmontonCanada

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