Date of Graduation
This study approaches the problem of the relation of man and nature in William Wordsworth's The Prelude from the phenomenological perspective developed in Martin Heidegger's early work, Being and Time. More specifically, I attempt to work out a detailed comparison between Wordsworth's description of nature as an environing and supporting presence and Heidegger's notion of "world" as an irreducible component of human existence. In contrast to most philosophically oriented critics of The Prelude, who locate Wordsworth's ideas within the metaphysical context of English empiricism or continental transcendentalism and idealism, I argue that the structure of experience presented in ThePrelude actually tends to subvert the categories of metaphysical thinking itself. Most importantly, I attempt to demonstrate Wordsworth's strategy of undermining the metaphysical separation of subject and object in favor of the kind of unitary experience that Heidegger characterizes as "Being-in-the-world." Although my concern with Heidegger's phenomenology centers on those sections of Being and Time dealing with Being-in-the-world, my argument also involves the notions of feeling, language, understanding and time developed in the later sections of the book and in later works as well. Chapter I, therefore, presents both a general introduction to Heidegger's inquiry into the problem of being and a short overview of the structure and argument of Being and Time as a whole. Chapter II examines Wordsworth's experience of "Being-in," that sense of intimate involvement with the world which Heidegger sees as the foundation of all our subsequent, epistemologically conceived acts of knowing. Chapter III goes on to develop this sense of involvement by showing how Wordsworth's relations to particular things and places in The Prelude often lead him to an experience of dwelling in a larger and more profoundly integrated world. Finally, chapter IV considers Wordsworth's broader sense of nature in The Prelude, as manifested in what Heidegger describes as the unique spatiality of human existence, and in the revelations that follow upon the poet's frustrated attempts to isolate and appropriate nature to his willful ends.
Hissom, James Preston, "World And Being In Wordsworth's "Prelude" (Phenomenology)." (1984). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9042.