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The Majesty of the PeoplePopular Sovereignty and the Role of the Writer in the 1790s$
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Georgina Green

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199689064

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689064.001.0001

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Wordsworth and the People as Original Power

Wordsworth and the People as Original Power

(p.168) 7 Wordsworth and the People as Original Power
The Majesty of the People

Green Georgina

Oxford University Press

Wordsworth’s early efforts to reconcile the violence of revolution with his reverence for the popular cause in the case of the French Revolution in his ‘Letter to Llandaff’ and the 1805 Prelude are unconvincing; it is only with the 1808 uprising of the people of the peninsular against Napoleon that he is able to successfully sublimate the concept of the people as constituent power, in his tract on the Convention of Cintra. With reference to Hannah Arendt, this chapter discusses how, in the wake of the peninsular uprising, Wordsworth finally achieves a narrative of the majesty of the people where the social question does not eclipse purely formal political concerns. In continuity with the preface to the Lyrical Ballads, in the 1808 quest to associate the majesty of the people with a moral force, poetry ultimately becomes the true representative of the true people.

Keywords:   Wordsworth, Prelude, Peninsular uprising, Convention of Cintra, Lyrical Ballads, Letter to Llandaff, constituent power, French Revolution, Arendt

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