Absence of Maternal Presence in Nature: A Reading of Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey"

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Lee, KyungSoo
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서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
영학논집 12(1988): 96-101
"Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey", "a miniature of the long poem Wordsworth never quite wrote, the philosophical and autobiographical epic of which The Prelude, the Recluse fragment, and The Excursion would have been only parts", is famous for its alleged insistence upon the power of nature to 'soothe and nourish' the human mind. In other words, the poem has been read, mainly, as a powerful verbal expression of what nature can do for man; what nature can give him, etc. In this connection, nature has mostly been credited with a positive function. This paper puts into question such 'positive' interpretations concerning the relationship between man and nature in "Tintern Abbey". Does nature give man real solace, real soothing, real comfort? In a word, does nature give him 'unillusory' sweetness or joy? That the poem, seeming to provide 'yes' for those questions, in reality denies such an answer, is the point of my argument in this paper. Or, in other words, in Derridean terms, the point might be put: "Tintern Abbey" shows powerfully, and painfully, the irrepressible human desire for 'Presence' ('too human a desire, as Nietzche, a 'Derridean' thinker, put it), at the same time testifying to the absence of presence, thus rendering futile the search for presence. I will discuss the futility inherent in such desire or search, with special reference to the 'Maternal Presence' in nature, as Leslie Brisman terms ie).
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College of Humanities (인문대학)English Language and Literature (영어영문학과)영학논집(English Studies)영학논집(English Studies) No.12 (1988)
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