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Wordsworth's Fun$
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Matthew Bevis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226652054

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226652221.001.0001

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(p.154) Naturals
Wordsworth's Fun

Matthew Bevis

University of Chicago Press

The Borderers was Wordsworth’s apprenticeship in the dark arts of foolery. The question of whether the poet was to be the agent provocateur or the representative of his public, its unconscious or its conscience, continued to be a source of agitated fun for him, and the question is complicated by the sociopolitical commitments that helped to shape Lyrical Ballads. One of the poet’s avatars for the Fool was the balladeer or minstrel himself, and this chapter uncovers the awkward, persistent presence of the Fool in Lyrical Ballads. In particular, the chapter offers a sustained reading of "Simon Lee," a poem that offers a key (or a clue) to the bewilderment that the Fool inspires in him.

Keywords:   folly, Simon Lee, minstrel, the comic body, Laurence Sterne, Charles Lamb, The Brothers

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