Anahid Nersessian begins a discussion of “Wordsworth’s obscurity” in her new study The Calamity Form with a disarmingly candid admission. “I don’t like Wordsworth. I almost said I don’t care for him, but that’s not quite true,” because, after all, “a day spent writing about Wordsworth” or a class given over to exploring his poetry carries palpable rewards. But Wordsworth “leaves [her] cold,” and the only pleasure associated with him is that of reading him in the company of someone like Geoffrey Hartman, but never, it appears, on her own (58–59). By the end of a chapter given over almost entirely to the “pastoral” poem “Michael” (and to a ruined sheepfold on which so much depends), we finally learn the source of this disaffection. Wordsworth doesn’t like Nersessian and similar readers because they bring more to his texts than he can possibly give back. Terminally unhappy, willfully reticent, antisocial, Wordsworth...
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Book Review| December 01 2021
The Calamity Form: On Poetry and Social Life
The Calamity Form: On Poetry and Social Life. By Nersessian, Anahid.
University of Chicago Press,
Modern Language Quarterly (2021) 82 (4): 538–541.
William Galperin; The Calamity Form: On Poetry and Social Life. Modern Language Quarterly 1 December 2021; 82 (4): 538–541. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-9366022
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