Title page for ETD etd-0328102-102651

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Haltrin Khalturina, Elena V.
Author's Email Address ekhalt1@lsu.edu, veeomi@mail.ru
URN etd-0328102-102651
Title "Uncouth Shapes" and Sublime Human Forms of Wordsworth's the Prelude in the Light of Berdyaev's Personalistic Philosophy of Freedom
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jim S. Borck Committee Chair
Anna K. Nardo Committee Member
Dave Smith Committee Member
Devoney Looser Committee Member
Sharon A. Weltman Committee Member
Yvonne Fuentes Dean's Representative
  • the human sublime
  • freedom
  • independence
  • existentialism
  • william wordsworth
  • liberty
  • nicholas berdyaev
  • personalism
Date of Defense 2002-03-12
Availability unrestricted
In complementary response to socio-historisists who discuss the concept of "freedom" in William Wordsworth's poetry as determined from without — be it by socio-historical conditions, gender, or imposed ideology — I draw from the theory of Nicholas Berdyaev, one of the prominent continental existentialists of the twentieth century, tracing the development of Wordsworth's understanding of freedom towards "genuine liberty" as progressively determined from within. Thus focusing on "existentia" rather than "essentia," I pay particular attention to shaping inner efforts and developing visions of the growing and conscious personality as they are described in The Prelude. Wordsworth hinges his ability to perceive — and make perceivable — the "external man" upon his own evolving understanding of inner freedom, claiming that his theme is "no other than the very heart of man." In The Prelude, especially of 1850, I find a direct link between the degree of personal freedom gained by the poet and the perfection of the human gestalten he depicts, the connection detailed by this dissertation.

The dissertation offers the following chapters: (1) "Introduction. 'To be young was very heaven:' Two Thinkers Bred by Two Revolutions: Wordsworth and Berdyaev;" (2) "The Human Form and Human Independence in Wordsworth: A Link;" (3) "'Man Ennobled Outwardly Before My Sight;'" (4) “‘Uncouth Shapes' and Their Progress from Transgression to Transcendence;" (5) "Wordsworth's Trans-Figuration on Mount Snowdon and 'Genuine Liberty.'"

My conclusion suggests that increasing degree of growing personal independence, gained by the developing poet and, possibly, by his reader, is manifested, on the level of imagery, by way of the perfecting of the human gestalten, from one Spot of Time to another, until the poet himself gets into a position to be seen as "an index of delight." Also, agreeing with Herbert Read (p. 210 of The True Voice of Feeling), I see Wordsworth among the first existentialist poets, a position which my comparison with Berdyaev supports. Visually, in The Prelude, the perfect, sublime, human form signals a shift to and back from transcendence, which equals "genuine liberty."

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