Wordsworth, Commodification, and Social Concern: The Poetics of Modernity

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This reading of Wordworth's poetry by leading critic David Simpson centres on its almost obsessive representation of spectral forms and images of death in life. Wordsworth is reacting, Simpson argues, to the massive changes in the condition of England and the modern world at the turn of the century: mass warfare; the increased scope of machine-driven labour and urbanisation; and the expanding power of commodity form in rendering economic and social exchange more and more abstract, more and more distant from human agency and control. Reading Wordsworth alongside Marx and Derrida, Simpson examines the genesis of an attitude of concern which exemplifies the predicament of modern subjectivity as it faces suffering and distress.