Essays in Romanticism

Hartman’s Westering and Hartman’s Wordsworth

Essays in Romanticism (2015), 22, (2), 151–166.

Abstract

This essay explores the ambivalence underlying Hartman’s theme of “westering” toward “evening lands.” It begins by showing the basis of this theme in autobiography. The westering theme is most prominent in Hartman’s early books of essays, Beyond Formalism and The Fate of Reading, but it persists and darkens in his later cultural criticism. The whole range of the theme can be evoked in reading Keats’s Hyperion poems, which Hartman himself reads in other contexts. The somber tones of the cultural criticism can already be heard in Wordsworth’s Poetry and The Unremarkable Wordsworth. Hartman does not linger over the westering theme in these books, but it can certainly be heard in Wordsworth himself as an already-accomplished westering; this essay concludes by reading Hartman with the aid of his favorite poet.

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Author details

Fry, Paul