Essays in Romanticism

Wordsworth Back in France Again: Reading The Borderers with Badiou and Rancière

Essays in Romanticism (2014), 21, (1), 89–106.

Abstract

Commentators of differing stripes agree that William Wordsworth’s verse drama, The Borderers, both reflects on and produces the post-revolutionary subject of the major poems. Yet since the play was not published until 1842—almost fifty years after Wordsworth’s composition of an initial finished draft, and a few more since the encounters in politics and love in France that biographers descry behind the text—all readings of the play have been tortuous re-readings. This essay renews the implications of politics, aesthetics, and the autobiographical subject. It exposes Wordsworth to France again, placing The Borderers in the philosophical company of Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière. What does The Borderers have to say about current French philosophical theory’s exchange over the terms of politics and aesthetics? I argue that maintaining The Borderers’ anxiety around issues of risk in subjectivation helps to re-open the space of an event in our long moment of liberal-conservative intransigence.

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Lindstrom, Eric