How does the life and work of a noted English poet comment on the two very different ways people get satisfaction: one way that strengthens us and another that makes for guilt? This urgent question is answered in “Wordsworth–& the Fight in Everyone,” the current issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by editor Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
Here is part 5 of Eli Siegel’s great 1963 lecture Romanticism and Guilt. Mr. Siegel is in the midst of speaking about the poet William Wordsworth, and describing, as no other critic did, a fight that went on within him. That fight is literarily important—it has to do with why some of Wordsworth’s poems are much better than others. But it corresponds to a battle going on right now in every person. And one of the contenders is the cause of guilt.
The Battle, & Art
“The greatest fight man is concerned with,” writes Eli Siegel, “is the fight between respect for reality and contempt for reality” (TRO 151). From the desire to respect the world—from the desire to know it and give it justice—has come all art, and, mightily, that movement in art at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, romanticism. For example, as Wordsworth, in his 1800 Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, describes a new approach in poetry, we see him respecting what others had spurned, belittled, taken for granted: the ordinary. >>Read more