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Title: The Prelude as History
Authors: Shaw, Philip John
First Published: Jan-2015
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Citation: Shaw, P. J., The Prelude as History, ed. Gravil, R; Robinson, D, 'The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth', Oxford University Press, 2015
Abstract: This chapter examines major statements of Wordsworth and Coleridge on the faculty of imagination to elucidate that for both writers ‘imagination’ designates an active, productive, and non-representational mental process that should give access to forms of experience not available to habitual modes of reading and perception. This conception of imagination has its roots in the philosophical positions of German Idealism. While Coleridge’s concept of imagination emerges in immediate dialog with the philosophical tradition, a full understanding of Wordsworth’s view of imagination requires an analysis of the poetry of The Prelude. A close examination of central passages devoted to imagination in The Prelude demonstrates that imagination in Wordsworth’s text invokes both the transcendent and the uncanny, continually ‘vexing’ the unity of the poetic self even as the text seeks to produce it. Like the ‘voice of waters’ in The Prelude’s Snowdon episode, imagination and poetry are expressions of a fundamental ‘“homelessness’.
DOI Link: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199662128.013.0026
ISBN: 978-0-19-966212-8
Embargo on file until: 22-Jan-2017
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Chapter
Rights: Copyright © Oxford University Press, 2015. Deposited with reference to the Publisher's Self-archiving policy. This material was originally published in The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth edited by Gravil R; Robinson D, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press ; For permission to reuse this material, please visit
Appears in Collections:Books & Book Chapters, Dept. of English

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