The Language of the Senses: Sensory Perceptual Dynamics in by Kerry McSweeney

By Kerry McSweeney

McSweeney discusses the sensory acuity that knowledgeable Wordsworth's, Coleridge's, Thoreau's, Whitman's, and Dickinson's best achievements after which, while blunted through sickness or age, contributed to an attenuation in their inventive strength. He offers a "sensory profile" or sensory background for every writer and during shut readings indicates how this profile affected their dating to the exterior international and their powers of symbolic belief. utilizing views gleaned from the poets themselves and an figuring out of the physiological flooring of belief, McSweeney establishes a compelling theoretical foundation for his method. In transparent and stylish prose, he reviews the actual foundation for classy plenitude - resembling the sensory manifold of synaesthesia - not just within the Romantic writers pointed out above but in addition in Victorian poets, Hopkins and Tennyson.

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Extra resources for The Language of the Senses: Sensory Perceptual Dynamics in Wordsworth, Coleridge, Thoreau, Whitman and Dickinson

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How does one judge this matter? Is the experience Coleridge describes bona fide or bogus, sublime or mock sublime? For that matter, 34 The Language of the Senses how can a literary critic ever be certain of a correspondence between the after-the-fact verbal representation of an experience of expanded consciousness and the experience itself, or even be certain that there ever was an experience? In my view, there are three methodological keys to a successful consideration of these questions. (a) The first is to place the text under consideration in its biographical and literary context.

Consider, for example, a distinctive feature of a number of Tennyson's poems, to which several commentators have called attention: a glimmering shape or light, usually white, seen against a dark background evokes powerful feelings of reassurance and comfort. " Sublime or Mock Sublime? 35 How can this association be explained? L. Priestley uses a gambit common in literary-critical discourse - pseudo-explanation by means of learned allusion: "A dim whiteness gleaming in a dark background is always for [Tennyson] a symbol of reassurance, a faint but adequate glimmer of light in the darkness, analogous to the 'candle of the Lord' of the Cambridge Platonists" (161).

This lower/higher mode of Romantic symbolic perception of natural facts is no more new than the inner/outer mode. As Coleridge observes: "it has been the music of gentle and pious minds in all ages, it is the poetry of all human nature, to read [the natural world] in a figurative sense, and to find therein correspondences and symbols of the spiritual world" (SM 70). Had not Paul written in his Epistle to the Romans (1:20) that "the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made"?

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