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William Gilbert and Esoteric RomanticismA Contextual Study and Annotated Edition of 'The Hurricane'$
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Paul Cheshire

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941206

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941206.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

The Calenture

The Calenture

Gilbert and Wordsworth

(p.89) Chapter Five The Calenture
William Gilbert and Esoteric Romanticism

Paul Cheshire

Liverpool University Press

Wordsworth acknowledged Gilbert’s ‘admirable’ prose ‘description of the Calenture’ – a delirium affecting seafarers – as a source for a passage in ‘The Brothers’. Wordsworth’s fascination with extreme psychological states incurred on long sea voyages was the seed idea behind ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, which was to have been his joint project with Coleridge. Wordsworth’s aesthetic goal was to find ‘the genuine language of passion’, a language freed from the conventions of polite literature. Although the rapture of Gilbert’s voice had that quality of freedom from convention,for Wordsworth it ran too close to madness.In Wordsworth’s most successful adoption of Gilbert’s prose, the quest for ‘Primeval Nature’s Child’ (Excursion, III: 928) in the American wilderness, Wordsworth’s character, the Solitary, finds only savagery and degeneration.

Keywords:   Calenture, Wordsworth, Gilbert, Madness, America

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