English Research Seminar: Professor Philip Shaw, Leicester University
Professor Philip Shaw, Leicester University
Wordsworth After Byron: Conflict and Authority in Memorials of a Tour on the Continent, 1820
This paper considers Wordsworth's Memorials of a Tour on the Continent, 1820 as a response to Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Beginning with an account of the strained relations between Wordsworth and Byron, the paper will develop a reading of the Memorials that explains how individual poems in the collection engage with themes addressed in Byron's best-selling “Romaunt.” Like Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Wordsworth's Memorials uses the framework of a continental tour to address a range of contemporary problems, including the notion of the restorative value of nature, which, in Canto 3, Byron famously borrowed from Wordsworth, the ideological significance of the war against France, and the continuity of the self over time. The focus of the paper will be on the representation of the River Rhine, which emerges in both poems as an emblem of tranquility and permanence, and as a register of the effects of historical violence.