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Wordsworth's Excursion : narrative memory and the 'Minds of Men'.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2004
JournalLiterature Compass
Journal number1
Volume1
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article explores the ways in which narratives of The Excursion are different from those of The Prelude not only in the manner of their telling, but in terms of their internalised meaning for both speakers and listeners. The piece looks at the main speakers in the poem – the Wanderer, the Pastor, the Solitary and the Poet – in terms of the ways a man's profession and daily life shapes his use of memory in relation to others. Where, for the Wanderer, life is a spatial map which he himself draws, the Pastor's internalised memory embodies a fixed community. The figures of Solitary and Poet, are less straightforward, in terms of their own relationship with the memories they carry and their representation of others through its externalisation. The final part of the article looks closely at the role of the Poet as translator and outsider – the only one for whom the journey is an 'excursion'– and considers the implications for Wordsworth's own understanding of the poet's role.