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Analysis Interminable in the Other Wordsworth

  • Joel Faflak

…plus d’informations

  • Joel Faflak
    University of Western Ontario

Wordsworth said of The Prelude that it was "a thing unprecedented in Literary history that a man should talk so much about himself": "I had nothing to do but describe what I had felt and thought" and "therefore could not easily be bewildered."  [1] Freud repeats this self-initiated self- exploration a century later. Apparently favouring self-observation over contemplation, and thus choosing psychoanalysis over philosophy, Freud, in The Interpretation of Dreams, argues that the "success of psychoanalysis depends upon [the analysand] noticing and telling everything that passes through his mind." While contemplation "rejects some of the ideas which [the subject] has perceived, and cuts short others, so that he does not follow the trains of thought which they would open," self-observation is like the "tolerance . . . of poetic production"  [2] and does not limit the work of the unconscious. However, Freud assigns cognitive value to the 'tolerance' of self-observation only insofar as it assists in demystifying the psyche. Ultimately for Freud, only contemplation can produce the interpretive coherence demanded by analysis. The correct interpretation is all as Freud, like Kant, closes off the contemplativeness of the beautiful ego to the threat of the self's endless sublime confrontation with itself as a subject on trial/in process. Ironically, Freud thus turns free association back into a controlled or contained associationism that evokes in Wordsworth's own time empiricism's disciplining of the psyche, the imposition of a type of scientism upon a process that is otherwise inscrutable and interminable. The transference between analyst and patient generated during self-observation, however, eventually suggested to Freud that a therapeutic cure—the termination of analysis as the overcoming of the unconscious through interpretation and demystification—was unattainable. Psychoanalysis was interminable because the psyche's unreasonable and dark associationism did not lend itself to the reasoned terminability of philosophical contemplation.  [3]

In terms of his desire for philosophical closure, one might say that Freud is a card-carrying Wordsworthian. Even in Wordsworth's own poem of personal psychoanalysis, he prefers the contemplative "steadiest mood of reason" (5.1) to the chaos of self-observation. The latter confronts him with the trauma of a shapeless psyche that "Hath no beginning" (2.267) and with an endless transference between his conscious self and an imagination that proliferates in often obscure and uncontrollable ways, what Wordsworth calls "that interminable building reared / By observation of affinities / In objects where no brotherhood exists / To common minds" (2.402- 405). As Wordsworth asks, "Who knows the individual hour in which / His habits first were sown even as a seed? / Who that shall point as with a wand, and say, / 'This portion of the river of my mind / Came from yon fountain'?" (2.211-215). In answer to these questions, Wordsworth never stops talking; but at some point he does stop free-associating. Ultimately comfortable as the analyst of his own mind, he is seldom comfortable as analysand.

Ironically, of course, The Prelude was to have pursued the growth of Wordsworth's mind as "a theme / Single and of determined bounds" (1.668-669), and as a way of postponing The Recluse's "ampler and more varied argument" (671), in which he might be "discomfited and lost" (672). As what Wordsworth calls in the Preface to The Excursion a "preparatory poem," then, The Prelude was to be an analysis terminable, an extended but finite curriculum vitae for a greater "work that should endure" (13.278). The Prelude was to avoid what seems to be for Wordsworth the greater complexity of philosophical contemplation for the rather less complicated process of autobiographical observation, "[conducting] the history of the Author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous labour which he had proposed to himself" (Preface to The Excursion 589). However, having "retraced [his] life / Up to an eminence" (3.168-69) at seventeen, he continues for several more books until, at twenty-six, he breaks down. Yet by then talking in The Prelude had become both a way of approaching and avoiding, both mounting toward and shrinking from, the "devouring sea" (9.4) of his psyche, as he finds that the "motions retrograde" (9.8) of his project have produced an internal "revolution" (9.237), a "conflict of sensations without name" that he is unable to interpret. This "stride at once / Into another region" (10.240-241) leaves his "brain confounded" (378). And so he turns to "Reason in her most exalted mood" (13.170), and thus to a type of Kantian idealism, in order to terminate his analysis and thus to build a retaining wall against the "ravenous sea" (1850 9.4) of the endless process of his imagination, a philosophical and aesthetic compensation for and sublimation of his psychological turmoil. The Recluse was to have proven the rationale for this sublimation, the "Abundant recompense" ("Tintern Abbey" 88) for having transcended trauma.

Wordsworth's reading of his own psychic processes attempts to respond to the fact that the self-observational poetry of the psyche confronts him with the (textual) trauma of an identity lacking clearly definable empirical contours.  [4] He experiences this trauma in his analysis of solitude as he confronts the otherness of his own psyche, an otherness repeated in his transferential encounters with other subjects, most prominently with Coleridge. Continuing to revise The Prelude until his death, however, Wordsworth remains engaged in the analytical interminability of his radically divided imagination, the "corresponding mild creative breeze" (1.43) of the psyche that remains "A tempest, a redundant energy" (46). The Prelude is, then, the analytic scene of his inability to proceed with The Recluse. Wordsworth remains "Halted without a struggle to break through" (6.530) the psychic material of The Prelude to a realization that he has already looked into the "Mind of Man," as in the Prospectus he describes the "promised work" (1850 7.15) of The Recluse, by looking into the interminable darkness of his own. Yet this psychological complexity in fact repeats a similar conflict in The Recluse. Implicitly psychoanalyzing the Wordsworthian imagination of The Recluse, although remaining blind to its own analytical insights, The Prelude marks the idea of The Recluse as an analysis interminable that Wordsworth must interminably resist.

So aside from striking parallels between Wordsworth's 'talking so much about himself' and Freud's talking cure, talk, especially so much of it, is often cheap. Wordsworth, the poet of Romantic interiority, also spends a great deal of time, from very early on in his writing, avoiding the work of the psyche. Before he saw Coleridge as analysand, that is, he struggled himself to deal with the unreason within Reason, the obscure side of the imagination's life that demands in Wordsworth's writing the invention of a psychoanalytical apparatus that he both entertains and resists. In this respect, his attempt to work-through The Prelude is preceded, rather than superseded, by his attempt to write The Recluse. Because The Recluse was conceived early in Wordsworth's career and thus early in the genealogy of 'High Romanticism'—and because its Prospectus claims to inaugurate a poetry of the Romantic psyche—I want therefore to explore this preceding effort as the primal scene at which (the subject of) Romantic psychoanalysis as an analysis interminable—an 'other' Wordsworth—first emerges. I thus also want to consider in passing how Wordsworth attempts to turn psychoanalysis into philosophy and how philosophy is undone at the primal scene of its own making, and thus how the primal scene of Romantic psychoanalysis is the site of a philosophical contemplation that does not obtain.

Ned Lukacher argues that the primal scene is always already a scene of analysis, an "ontologically undecidable intertextual event that is situated in the differential space between historical memory and imaginative construction, between archival verification and interpretive free play."  [5] This site of difference unsettles and even renders absent the subject's empirical identity, which otherwise depends for its stability on a continuous association with the past. Yet two assumptions can be made about the primal scene's later, if indeterminate, textual effects: it precedes, either as a real event or in phantasy, the subject's reconstruction of it, and it is obscured as much as it is amplified epistemologically by this process. More anticipated than executed, The Recluse finds its 'origin' in the poems comprising the "undecidable intertextual event" of its conception in 1797 as a work in which Wordsworth would present his "views of Nature, Man, and Society" (WL 1.214). The Recluse is less the reality of its parts and more a trope for Wordsworth's desire to imagine a system that might give shape to his psychic life.  [6] More anticipated than executed, it therefore emerges in texts that suggest the troubled emergence of psychoanalysis as an essentially interminable enterprise. These texts take us back to the future of The Recluse and of Romantic psychoanalysis, a future that produced The Prelude and Freud, although this psychoanalysis, like Freud's, is a missed encounter with itself.

What concerns me, then, is not a psychoanalytical reading of Wordsworth or of Romanticism in general. Instead, I wish to explore how Wordsworth, at an early point in the genealogy of Romanticism, encounters a struggle between psychic determinism and self-making to which, for him, philosophy offers a limited response. The alternative of psychoanalysis as a form of psychic exploration offered within literature itself emerges from this struggle. As we shall see, Wordsworth appears to reject this alternative, precisely because it offers few limitations, or limitations which, as the development of his writings for The Recluse suggests, would not conform to his idea of the philosophical anthropos.  [7] Thomas Wieskel argues of The Prelude, "What must orient here is [Wordsworth's] discovery of a mode of conversation, now most easily recognized outside of poetry in the domains of the authentic psychoanalyst and a certain kind of expert teacher too tentative to know or say for sure what he 'really' thinks" (169). To push Wieskel's claim further, I maintain that psychoanalysis is invented, rather than merely anticipated, by Romanticism, and within rather than outside of its literature.  [8] The Romanticism that psychoanalysis forgets is a literary/aesthetic response to scientific/philosophic approaches to the subject—again, a literary response that Wordsworth entertains, yet in turn rejects. Romanticism is not, therefore, the disciplined child of a later theoretical parent; rather, Romanticism invents psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic scene, as well as the psycho-aesthetic apparatus by which they function, as a struggle for identity between psychic determinism and self-making.  [9] The current paper sketches, then, how Romantic psychoanalysis, at its beginnings in Wordsworth, emerges from its confrontation(with the unseen/scene of Reason—the unreason or unconscious of the philosophical anthropos. Reason is undone by a particular psychology of the Romantic subject which, in historically specific phenomena like Mesmerism, confronts the enlightenment with the spectre of Reason's absent psychosomatic body, the unsettled body of philosophy. In Wordsworth one can trace a literary response to this body—Margaret's body—which calls for Romantic psychoanalysis, but which, in Wordsworth's writings, gets put aside.


Wordsworth's desire to systematize the thinking of his poetry is intensified by Coleridge's conviction that Wordsworth would write the "FIRST GENUINE PHILOSOPHIC POEM,"  [10] and the genesis and history of The Recluse from their relationship is already common currency.  [11]The Recluse thus evolved in Wordsworth's writings as a paradigm comprehensive enough to recuperate all differences within the structure of his corpus. Where 'structure' suggests the anatomy of the conscious shaping of a shapeless imaginative content, however, corpus or 'body' suggests an interiority that takes on a life of its own, an aesthetic 'organism' functioning systemically within and beyond consciousness.

Wordsworth himself generates this ambiguity by refusing, even in his most public statement about The Recluse in the 1814 Preface to The Excursion, "formally to announce a system" (589) for the poem. By "conveying to the [reader's] mind clear thoughts, lively images, and strong feelings," he enjoins the reader to "[extract] a system for himself" (589 as though the text were a transparent medium of exchange between the reader and the author as subjects presumed to know. Locating the poem's system within the psychological structure of a reader response hermeneutic, Wordsworth thus precludes a divinatory reading that would presumably require a more substantive sense of the text's whole than he provides. He invites instead a speculative interrogation that reads against the grain of the text's aesthetic promise in order to locate the absent body of a desire that, at least (but not only) in terms of his writing of The Recluse, remains largely unfulfilled. Like Kant's aesthetic ideas, The Recluse is a "representation of the imagination which induces much thought, yet without the possibility of any definite thought whatever . . . being adequate to it."  [12] Kant recuperates this dissociation between form and content by privileging the transcendental function of genius and its participation in the aesthetic imagination, the "something evermore about to be" (6.542) that Wordsworth himself calls "clearest insight, amplitude of mind / And reason in her most exalted mood" (13.169-170) and that signifies the unconscious of the imagination as a site of transcendental potentiality rather than deconstructive negativity. The 'system' of Wordsworth's plan for the poem, however, produces no "definite thought . . . adequate to it" because it reproduces in the reader the poet's ambivalence regarding his own (in)ability to supply a structure adequate to his conception.

This ambivalence emerges in part from the idea of organicism, of central importance to the Romantic ethos. Using the metaphor of organic life to figure the imagination's invisible workmanship, Coleridge cannot entirely suppress how the unconscious of the imagination mutates organic form, how the beautiful form of the Mariner's tale is perpetually unsettled by the sublime and disturbingly gothic contents of his psyche. Ironically, in the Preface to The Excursion, Wordsworth, as if to avoid this aberrancy, uses gothic architecture itself as a metaphor for coherence, and thus foregrounds how the transcendental imagination regulates its own organic growth: the gothic cathedral built to the glory of an intellectual divinity. Wordsworth explains the relation between the disparate parts of his writings, both completed and projected, as that of "little cells, oratories, and sepulchral recesses" within the "body of a gothic church" (589). The church itself was The Recluse, of which The Excursion formed an "intermediate part" and The Prelude formed the "ante-chapel"; the Prospectus appended to the Preface was then intended to outline the "design and scope of the whole Poem," a blueprint for the finished structure. While the church itself is largely absent, however, we are left with the interiority of its body. The solitude that produces a functioning of the human imagination commensurate with the SUM also produces a psychic otherness incommensurate with this transcendental schema. The Prelude describes this otherness as "A tempest, a redundant energy": the gothic cathedral of dark "sepulchral recesses" of the human mind inaccessible to the intellect. Reading this psychic otherness requires a psychoanalysis of its more disturbing symptoms, which indicate a subject divided between consciousness and the unconscious.

The 1814 Prospectus to The Recluse appears to suggest this psychoanalysis by announcing a poetry that looks "Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man" (40), but it ends up resisting the psychoanalytical "fear and awe" (38) of this poetry by appealing to the "dread Power! / Whose gracious favour is the primal source / Of all illumination" (100-102). However, the text exists in a substantially different manuscript draft of 1800, written shortly after the psychic genesis of The Recluse in MSS. B (March 1798) and D (February-November 1799) of "The Ruined Cottage." But the genealogy extends before this to MS. A, the first incomplete draft of "The Ruined Cottage," and to miscellaneous pieces from this manuscript, most particularly "The Baker's Cart" and "Incipient Madness," and from the Racedown Notebook, all of which date from 1795 to early 1797, a year before Wordsworth's first manuscript drafts for The Prelude. These earlier writings constitute the first sustained composition related to The Recluse, and its history is written over the palimpsest of their early heterogeneous and conflicting textual presences. As the Prospectus looks forward to a systematic philosophical account of "Nature, Man, and Society" (WL 1.214), these fragments evoke a (receding) textual origin in the "self-sufficing power of solitude" (2.78) that also produces madness and psychic errancy—an ongoing pathology of poetic vision in Wordsworth's writings. The later 1814 Prospectus obscures this conflicted textual (pre-)existence of The Recluse by marking itself as the 'natural' origin of the texts generated by the (non-)writing of The Recluse. These original writings for The Recluse, however, inscribe within the body of Wordsworth's poetry a psychoanalytical content about which he is ambivalent and that pervasively unsettles his corpus. These early writings are the unconscious of The Recluse, an unconscious with which his later corpus, most problematically The Prelude, is a missed encounter.

"Incipient Madness," "The Baker's Cart," and the original manuscript versions of "The Ruined Cottage" and the Prospectus suggest the subtext of an other Wordsworth. They form the unconscious or psychic pre-text of his conflict between a desire for a system that will discipline the aberrant empirical phenomena of psychic life and his fascination with those phenomena. Put another way, Wordsworth is fascinated by the unreason of psychic pathology at the same time that he struggles to suppress the death of Reason that this pathology implies. He had experienced this breakdown in the Reign of Terror, wherein the suspension of reason resulted in social apocalypse. More traumatic, however, was his own psychological collapse, "the crisis of that strong disease" (1850 11.306), that was the result of this suspension in 1796. Wordsworth, that is, was necessarily fascinated with, and simultaneously feared, the other within himself. This otherness produced the double consciousness he begins analyzing in The Prelude, a creative schizophrenia between writing an allegory on the Mind of Man and analyzing this mind's often disturbing growth.

The root of this schizophrenia can be traced to "The Ruined Cottage." The hermeneutic/therapeutic structure of conversation that Wordsworth will develop in The Prelude to 'cure' himself emerges in MSS. B and D of "The Ruined Cottage" in the conversation between the Narrator and Pedlar. These texts evolve a hermeneutics of containment—a psychotherapy—as a means of dealing with the spectre of psychic dis-ease in "The Baker's Cart" and "Incipient Madness." The evolution of "The Ruined Cottage" from these fragments explodes the distinction between philosophy/psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, however, as the text struggles to find a narrative apparatus to mediate the abject content of Margaret's life. In "The Ruined Cottage" the Narrator and the Pedlar emerge as the ur-Romantic co-analysts attempting to deal with Margaret, the ur-Romantic analysand. And like Freud and Fleiss deciding the fate of Emma Eckstein, they botch Margaret's therapy in ways which reveal how the boundary between the authority of the analyst and the psychic pathology of the analysand is collapsed into the interminable process of transference.

Of more than symptomatic importance for the invention of a Romantic psychoanalysis, then, is the fact that the "The Ruined Cottage" reconstructs these fragments as a primal scene whose trauma the later text then (uneasily) systematizes or interprets away. "Incipient Madness" and "The Baker's Cart" inscribe psychic pathology alone as part of an indeterminate textual identity shared between a speaker and a woman, or the psychic suffering she signifies. Within the transferential instability of this process, Margaret (as yet unnamed) and the speaker (as yet unidentified) are caught within a trauma that neither can speak. In the speakers of both texts, the Narrator and Pedlar are conflated before being distinguished in "The Ruined Cottage," as Wordsworth attempts to constitute himself as a bounded subject, only thereby splitting himself into mutually supplementary egos, all in an effort to avoid his identification with the position of the analysand and therefore with Margaret's madness. With "The Ruined Cottage," Wordsworth decidedly, yet conflictedly, turns the psychoanalytical heterogeneity of his writing in "Incipient Madness" and "The Baker's Cart" toward the psychotherapeutic homogeneity that makes his vision of the philosophical anthropos in The Recluse fit to tell. By suppressing an analysis interminable, that is, Wordsworth would declare his textual identity 'fit' for its social role as Bard and Prophet.

"Incipient Madness" and "The Baker's Cart" present the story of (Margaret's) madness through a speaker's visits to the cottage and through the decay of the cottage itself. In "The Baker's Cart" the speaker approaches a "wretched hut" (9) with five children who appear "not born to live" (5). A "loaded wain" (3) has just passed by, its abundance suggesting the 'wholeness' of a social order from which they are abjected. As he watches "with involuntary look" (9) as the cart disappears, he is addressed by a woman who, speaking only once, says, "'That waggon does not care for us'" (16). The rest of the text mark his attempt to make sense of the bare phenomenology of the scene as told in the woman's 'simple words.' In "Incipient Madness," the emerging psychoanalysis of "The Baker's Cart" becomes a repetition compulsion as the narrator visits a "hut" (2) three times and, in an attempt to narrate within solitude the first text's ambivalence toward narrative self-difference, appropriates the woman's disturbing interiority as his own. Although he physically enters the primal scene as if psychically to penetrate beneath the first text's disturbing social veneer, the effects of solitude are both recuperative and repetitive.

Both texts, then, barely contain the disturbing phenomena they relate. As metonymies of a particular frame of mind they exist outside of any explanatory process of telling a life, except as telling is symptomatic of an inability to make sense of experience. Suspended between the public and the private, the fragments cannot suppress 'fears in solitude,' which return through the incursion of the social other through a dialogue or conversation that repeats internal difference.  [13] In "Incipient Madness," this other, the psychic residue of Margaret's suffering signified in the "speck of glass" (13) from a "broken pane which glitter'd in the moon / And seemed akin to life" (6-7), is interiorized, as the narrator attempts to work through the "grief" (8) that, because it is more repeated than remembered in the text, has now "Become an instinct" (9), a "settled temper of the heart" (8) unsettling his identity. In "The Baker's Cart," the narrator's description of the woman mobilizes a process of transference between subjects that both implicates his identity in the de-stabilization of hers at the same time that it secures, through her 'discourse of the other,' his authoritative speaking position within the text. The suppression of conversation within the text (the speaker never replies to the woman) thus functions ambivalently to secure the narrator's own fragile sense of identity and thus to avoid psychoanalysis.

These fragments suggest within Wordsworth's corpus a trauma or primal scene that makes psychoanalysis imperative. Like Wordsworth's "spots of time" (11.257), they are psychic pathologies which, like the drowned man of Esthwaite, erupt "bolt upright" (5.471) into a textual landscape, but without an aesthetic framing that would suppress their trauma as "Grecian art and purest poesy" (5.481). Instead, they encrypt their own psychic contents through an intratextual psychodynamics that repeats as much as it remembers trauma. Both texts unfold diachronically as a narrative that allows for the distraction of the other at the same that they are lyrically compressed in an attempt to suppress this distraction, an ambiguous history focussed somewhere between the external scene of trauma and its interior reconstruction within the narrator. Both texts are ambivalent about either the woman's or the narrator's psychological distraction, displacing pathology through a narrative process that relativizes the boundary between madness and sanity. As primal scenes, "The Baker's Cart" and "Incipient Madness" comprise "ontologically undecidable intertextual events" within the broader metonymy of The Recluse.

They function as what Tilottama Rajan calls textual abjects, paraphrasing Kristeva's notion of the abject as that which "does not fit, and which therefore produces a sense of dis-ease in the body of the Kantian or Cartesian subject,"  [14] psychic aberrations within the transcendental structure of Reason that are nonetheless part of its organic shape. The texts evoke the errancies of an individual psyche that Wordsworth will attempt to absorb organically into the larger symbolic structure of a transcendental ego or SUM that The Recluse was intended to express as a guarantor of the individual discourse of subjectivity. They therefore unsettle the metaphysics of this prospective structure before it is erected in that they give the experience of the psyche a discernible narrative and thus explanatory shape, beginning with their absorption into "The Ruined Cottage," at the same time that this experience exceeds philosophical containment. Unable to distinguish between trauma and its recollection, the texts reproduce the impossible conditions for an analytic scene. In "The Baker's Cart" the narrator attempts to establish himself as a subject presumed to know, both invulnerable and responsive to the woman's distraction. In "Incipient Madness" he appears to negotiate her 'pathology' as part of his own psychic makeup. Yet the psychoanalytical potential of both texts, their attempt to look with "fear and awe" into the "Mind of Man," remains untapped.


Although one anticipates a fuller exploration of this potential in "The Ruined Cottage," which incorporates the trauma of the fragments within its larger structure, they explode rather than relieve the latter text's tension between philosophy and psychoanalysis. The version of MS. A suggests Wordsworth's continued fascination with Margaret's psychology.  [15] Yet in revisions between MSS. B and D, a philosophical and aesthetic ethos, to which I have already alluded, emerges to resist the abject content of her life. Margaret's story is displaced within the Narrator's encounter with the Pedlar, who recounts his visits to Margaret's cottage. This framing relocates dialogue with Margaret as a triangulated exchange that recuperates the alterity of her story dialectically between the Narrator and Pedlar. Together they evolve a model of 'correct' interpretation by transforming narrative into metadiscourse and personal history into a cautionary tale about psycho-social disorganization. Moreover, the Narrator's conversation with the Pedlar incorporates the philosophical case history of the Pedlar to counter the psychological case history of Margaret.  [16] The psychic ambiguities of the earlier fragments are now displaced into a hermeneutic that locates the Narrator's analytical voice externally in the philosophical reflectiveness of the Pedlar, who emerges at the text's epistemological center. As his telling acquires cognitive authority, the disturbing phenomenology of the cottage is bent toward a different purpose: to teach the Narrator, through the therapeutic example of the Pedlar's meditative life, about the dangers of solitude. Refiguring Margaret's story as a philosophical lesson upon, rather than a psychoanalysis of, her psychic etiology, however, does not altogether alleviate these dangers, and the attempt to preempt within The Recluse the threat of psychoanalytical interminability does not adequately obtain. Intended to attenuate the threat of Margaret's story and thus to secure the Narrator's identity, conversation instead mobilizes the return of a psychic content that the manuscripts cannot entirely repress.

In both texts the Narrator, who "Could find no rest" (23) while being "stretched . . . / On the brown earth" (21-22), encounters an "aged Man, / Alone, and stretched upon the cottage bench" (33-34). This bench stands at the threshold of "four naked walls / That stared upon each other" (31-32) as silent observers of the primal scene within. The spectral mirroring of analytical repose and solitude between the Narrator and Pedlar in MS. B leaves the boundary between analyst and analysand unexplored. Where they share a dialogue as "fellow-travellers" (40-41) in both texts, however, in MS. D the Narrator first recognizes the Pedlar "With instantaneous joy" (36), a rhetorical manoeuver that preempts working-through psychic complexities in the later text. This shift marks the immediate transfer of philosophical authority to the Pedlar, who makes clear, as if by the telepathy of a higher universal affect, what the Narrator "'cannot see'" (68) within the (primal) scene: the transience of life. As a compensation for this loss, the Pedlar uses the example of lyric "Poets," who "in their elegies and songs" (73) "call upon the hills and streams to mourn" (74). This appeal to lyric, however, turns mourning into melancholy by only tranquillizing the "foolishness of grief" (119). Lyric closes off the poet to a dialogue with himself and with others by expressing the philosophical or intellectual mediation of "Sympathies . . . / . . . / That steal upon the meditative mind / And grow with thought" (79-82).  [17] Grief is not so much worked-through as it is contained within the 'One Life,' which sublimates grief as pathetic fallacy.

The appeal to lyric in MS. D performs two functions. It preempts the affective pull of Margaret's life by contextualizing the Pedlar's transference with her in analytically terminable philosophic and aesthetic terms: her case history becomes merely illustrative, its analytical challenge displaced through the conscious dialogue between two fully constituted subjects. Lyric also 'instantaneously' suspends a transference between the Pedlar and the Narrator, thus maintaining the Pedlar's analytical authority within the Narrator's own telling. In both cases, lyric suggests the monologic telling of no more than one which excludes the dialogic threat of the other. MS. B, however, establishes the Narrator's identification with the Pedlar through his case history of the Pedlar's moral and spiritual education, thus figuring also the Narrator's attempt to work-through his own experience of solitude through that of the Pedlar. In both drafts, the Pedlar is a type of autochthonic poet who emerges as if fully-developed at the breast of (mother) Nature and in the absence of the (social) father. MS. B's genealogy of the Pedlar as a wanderer "untaught, / In the dead lore of schools undisciplined" (74-75) supports this identity while also repressing its oedipal history. Yet the telling of his story by the Narrator grants the otherness of the Pedlar's solitude a psychic content, exposing his philosophical authority to psychoanalytical interrogation by the Narrator as a subject presumed to know (himself).

The Pedlar's life purports to teach the reader by example what the Pedlar's account of Margaret has taught the Narrator. Through his isolation with the "feelings . . . / Essential and eternal in the heart" (62-63), he has learned a higher reason, supposedly born of a self-reflection lacking in Margaret. He has thus become the prototype of the Wordsworthian poet who, in the language of the Preface to Lyrical Ballads, is "possessed of more than usual organic sensibility" (735), having "thought long and deeply" in solitude. In passages from the Alfoxden Notebook,  [18] however, the Pedlar is also in touch with a primal "spontaneous overflow" (734) of feeling that functions outside of intellect in a realm of "strange meaning" (MS. B 85), where lyric is disrupted by the internal otherness of its own solitude, suggesting that he has encountered the unreason within Reason. The Pedlar's narcissistic isolation also suggests psychic and social marginality. "He had a world about him—'twas his own, / He made it—for it only lived to him" (87-88), although "Some called it madness" (93). Here the threat of Margaret's madness returns to unsettle Wordsworth's attempt to redeem the transcendental imagination from the threat of solitude. Even the Pedlar's 'dialogue' with Nature produces, not divinatory communication, but a type of externalized Natural meta-transference that subsumes and destabilizes his identity. Oddly conflating intellectual power and dissociative affect, the Narrator's case history of potential madness in the Pedlar thus becomes symptomatic of a desire to suppress its psychic difference, for Wordsworth removes it from MS. D, where the Narrator and Pedlar together become impartial interpreters of Margaret's story.

Even their joint meditation, however, does not maintain its reflective composure. As the Pedlar tells Margaret's story in MS. B, he is frequently overwhelmed by his own description, so that "the foolishness of [his] grief" (119) overcomes exposition. Refiguring his affective response in MS. B ("I feel") as intellectual contemplation ("I muse") in MS. D., Wordsworth suppresses psychoanalysis in favour of aesthetics and philosophy. Conversation, however, creates a troublesome and destabilizing transference. Both drafts, for instance, break the "unrelieved" distress of Margaret's story into two parts. Yet this call for relief, part of the rational therapeutic containment of Margaret's story, unintentionally occasions a transference between the Narrator and Pedlar which unsettles the philosophical stability of this apparatus. At the end of part 1, the Pedlar asks if, "feeding on disquiet," he and the Narrator should "disturb / The calm of Nature with [their] restless thoughts?" (197-198). As an evasion of what devolves into self-perpetuating grief, the question is partly an admonition and partly an appeal to the Narrator. Yet in both versions he 'begs' the Pedlar to continue. In MS. B, "impelled / By a mild force of curious pensiveness" (276-277), he registers the mesmerizing effects of the Pedlar's telling, so that he is both 'pensively' drawn inward and 'curiously' drawn toward the Pedlar. Then distinguishing the conscious "reason" (MS. D 226) of philosophy from the unconscious mesmerism of "An idle dreamer" (231), the Pedlar defends his narrative's analytical authority from the shapeless psychic content of Margaret's life, a "tale of silent suffering, hardly clothed / In bodily form" (233-234).

His subsequent responses to Margaret's story in part 2, however, suggest how the affect of her speech mesmerizes his own reflection. He remains drawn into her grief, which "seemed to cling upon [him]" (256) parasitically at the same time that it infects his heart virally from within. Implying that it has worked-through this melancholy—and thus purged its narrative of its affective taint—MS. B closes with the death of Margaret, "Last human tenant of these ruined walls" (528). Yet this final phenomenological marker of the cottage itself takes us back to the future of the Pedlar's opening stance outside its "four naked walls / That stared upon each other," his visits having become a repetition compulsion echoing Margaret's own. Drawn to Margaret's life as a trauma he appears unable to work-through (he remains, unlike the narrator of "Incipient Madness," 'outside' the cottage) the Pedlar repeatedly confronts himself with a psychic conflict he is unwilling to examine. In MS. D the Pedlar's last visit is a terminable "final parting" (444), and the text's narrative coda, as if to cure the "impotence of grief" (500) transferred to the Narrator, dismisses Margaret's story as "an idle dream" (523). "Admonished thus," the Narrator and Pedlar enter a "rustic inn" (538), presumably to resume their meditative lives.

This retreat from psychic interiority at the end of the text completes a narrative symmetry begun with MS. D's opening sequence, which foregoes the digressive case history of the Pedlar's solitude and interpolates him with the Narrator into the social order as "fellow-travellers." Yet this framework glosses over the inherently transferential encounters between the Pedlar, Margaret and the Narrator. He would teach the Narrator how to 'mourn' by externalizing the interiority of Margaret's psychic content through the meditative stance of lyric poet. He appears able to do this only insofar as he can abject the threat of lyric's internalized grief, a threat associated in the text with the madness of solitude, so that lyric mourning becomes lyric melancholy. Generated in their mutual attempt to deal with Margaret's madness and reproducing the transferential effects of the Pedlar's encounter with Margaret, the transference inscribed between the Pedlar and the Narrator does not allow the philosophical authority of the Pedlar's contemplativeness to settle. Like Freud and Fleiss, they devolve into projecting psychic responsibility for the tale onto one another. The Pedlar emerges as a subject only presumed to know, one who paradoxically secures his identity only by exposing it to interminable psychic unsettling through the discourse of the other. Conversation between the Narrator and the Pedlar attempts to reduce Margaret's affective body to pathetic fallacy: she is absorbed into Nature's 'one life' as spear-grass. Essentially, by abjecting Margaret the Narrator and Pedlar mutually reassure one another they are not alone, in the way that Wordsworth uses the textual persona of Coleridge to reassure himself that the real Coleridge, as well as the psychic disturbance he signifies for Wordsworth, does not exist.


While Wordsworth's attempt in "The Ruined Cottage" to preempt within The Recluse the threat of interminability is not successful, its failure in the Prospectus is, perhaps, most profound. Marking itself as the origin of The Recluse, the Prospectus obscures the psychic complexities of earlier texts which breed within Wordsworth's corpus as a psychoanalytical presence that he is unable to diagnose. The Prospectus attempts once and for all to resurrect philosophical stability out of Margaret's solitude: to build a gothic cathedral on the site of a ruined cottage. But it is a conflicted effort to subdue the interminable nature of Wordsworth's project: how to level the cottage to make way for the church when one has a madwoman for a tenant. Hence, one is not sure if he writes the Prospectus to announce the invention of psychoanalysis or to move beyond its failure. Is the Prospectus Wordsworth's prolegomena for a future Romantic metapsychology or an epitaph to its demise? The shift to epic sublimates the internal division of the mind through its marriage to Nature, but, paradoxically, Wordsworthian psychology also then moves away from its own interiority, thus turning psychoanalytical life-writing into meditative epitaph, psychic exploration into epic ritual, psychic motility into aesthetic form. The Prospectus revisits the dangers of solitude, but through the challenge of epic poetry. The Pedlar's solitude was, we can now see, a preparation for Wordsworth's second coming as solitary Bard.

Where the 1814 version begins by "Musing in solitude" (2), however, the manuscript begins by "Thinking in solitude" (2),  [19] so that Wordsworth is talking to himself through a radical (psycho)analysis of Milton that in the later text reads only as an attempt to surpass him, what Theresa Kelley calls his attempt to "out-sublime"  [20] Milton. The manuscript suggests that Milton does not venture far enough into his own psyche, but it also then exposes epic to the interminable process of the poet wandering in the semiotic and "shadowy ground" of his own thoughts. By changing "Thinking" to "Musing" Wordsworth resists psychoanalysis and uses "moral strength" (17) and "intellectual power" to sustain the "the law supreme / Of that [humanizing] Intelligence which governs all" (21-22). Anthropomorphism thus emerges as a way of collapsing psychic interiority because it suppresses the autonomous imagination as a free-associating mechanism—what Wordsworth in the manuscript calls the "soul of man." The pathology of solitude, however, returns as the pathology of imagination.

The work of the soul signifies a psychic excess that threatens Wordsworthian identity. Soul signifies a complex of forces, both intellectual and affective, physiological and psychological, personal and social, conscious and unconscious. For Wordsworth it exerts a profoundly de-humanizing influence, what Keats calls the negativity of the "wordsworthian or egotistical sublime." This "negative capability" or "poetical Character" defines the interminable deconstruction of identity within the world as a "'vale of Soul-making',"  [21] which reproduces the absent psychosomatic body of the subject at the site of emotional and psychological struggle. Keats, that is, would give Margaret her voice. But where the 1800 Prospectus entertains this dehumanizing potential of the imagination, the 1814 text resists it, re-reading imagination as inspiration, a transcendental "dread Power! / Whose gracious favour is the primal source / Of all illumination" (100-102). Yet the trace of psychic autonomy still exists in the later text's "fair trains of imagery," which inscribe the mind's unconscious potency and which, through the "blinder vacancy" of dreams, work against the grain of the text's millennial vision. Wordsworth "must [still] tread on shadowy ground" (16), his identity (dis)located between the sublime movements of sinking deep and ascending aloft, where as a "borderer of his age" (70) he emerges "unalarmed" (23) through the dark psychology of poetic vision, the frontier where psychoanalysis and philosophy both meet and diverge from one another.

But the 1814 text also changes "soul" to "Mind," thereby humanizing the indeterminacy of the 'shadowy soul' as "genuine [philosophic] insight" (88). Instead of wedding heterogeneous "minds" (38) to "this outward frame of things" (39), Wordsworth proposes the marriage of the "discerning intellect" (52) to "this goodly universe / In love and holy passion" (53-54). And upon the potentially shapeless psychic "region" of his "song," he imposes the doctrinal shape of his "high argument." The "creation" that emerges from poetic vision in solitude becomes a 'fitting' or 'blending' of psychic difference. This "great consummation" (58) dialectically recuperates the transferential structure of man's dialogue with nature and thus of the imagination with itself. By personifying the dehumanizing psychic process of "Thinking in solitude," that is, Wordsworth also suppresses as anthropomorphism the de-humanizing potential of transference and so represses the interminable identity of the anthropos he constructs, the psychoanalytical subject of "fear and awe" whose empirical identity, like the affective body of Margaret, lacks definite contours. Avoiding "those mutations that extend their sway / Throughout the nether sphere!" (92-93), Wordsworth, like Locke and Hume, sets aside the pathology of the imagination.  [22] The limitless psychic topography of "profoundest hell, night, chaos, death" in 1800 becomes in 1814 the Miltonic "Chaos" (35) and "the darkest pit of lowest Erebus" (36), and psychic self-observation is disciplined within an epic metapsychology that would give a terminable shape to an interminable process.

In the early Prospectus the organicism of the mind is a psychic 'breeding' of its limitless potential rather than a static aesthetic or intellectual object of contemplation. In the later Prospectus identity is a process of (self-)enlightenment that produces the stable cogito untainted by the "nether sphere" of what it will not confront within itself. In his note to "The Thorn," Wordsworth writes that poetry is a "science of feelings" (701), and in the 1802 Preface to Lyrical Ballads he humanizes the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" as the "countenance of all Science" (738), hence associating the Poet's solitude with the "solitude" of the "Man of Science." The "infinite complexity of pain and pleasure" produced by poetry becomes instead "the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge" that suppresses within the abstract and homogeneous philosophical identity of the poetic mind the heterogeneous psychosomatic body of poetry. Wordsworth's (social) science of the mind, like Kant's pragmatic anthropology, closes off psychic interminability—the sublime encounter with the unconscious—by diverting the threat of the other within the subject.

That Wordsworth must at some point deal with this internal threat seems inevitable: his attempt to humanize psychic interiority remains conflicted, for by emphasizing the radically antithetical movement of how Nature is 'fitted' to the Mind, he implicitly disrupts, rather than completes, the dialectic between them. The negativity of another type of analysis attempts to emerge in these texts. Their primal scene is the pathology of solitude: the fear of being alone with one's own mind. The Prospectus searches for an image of the mind that will suffice, a prototype for Wordsworth's examination of the mind in The Prelude as the psychological vestibule of The Recluse. But in The Prelude this work of "single and determined bounds" threatens to proliferate, "like the overflowing Nile" (6.448), into an interminable psychoanalysis. So Wordsworth chooses the contemplative life of the mind over the "ravenous sea" of the mind's psychic life as a way of intellectualizing the pathologized body of his thought. Yet in so doing, his gothic cathedral becomes four walls staring at themselves, wondering where all that life has gone. The power of this 'life,' however, resides in its madness, which Wordsworth resists. Derrida suggests that psychoanalysis poses an impossibly interminable idea which always resides beyond psychoanalysis, and thus beyond the thematization, history, or "'age of psychoanalysis'" itself. This idea is "where psychoanalysis finds . . . its greatest speculative power, but also the place of the greatest resistance to psychoanalysis (death drive, repetition compulsion, and so on, fort/da!)."  [23] The very thing which psychoanalysis purports to analyze is precisely that which precludes the possibility of psychoanalysis. The 'madness' of this madness is what Wordsworth encounters in poetry, an imaginary response to psychic determinism where the subject is never at one with himself. Wordsworth's encounter with, and swerving away from, the impossible psychoanalysis of this subject—who is not a subject—is, perhaps, a self-imposed Wordsworthian limitation.

Parties annexes