워즈워스와 초기 예이츠: 자아와 나르시시즘의 역설


The Narcissistic Predicament of the Self in Wordsworth and Early Yeats


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Analysis of how texts’ rhetorical strategies endanger or sustain the narcissistic structure of the self is an important approach in recent deconstruction criticism. This criticism carries out a challenge to the analogy between the mind and nature that is to establish a coherent image of the mind and the self. By taking Wordsworth’s the Prelude and a few poems in the earliest Yeats, this essay focuses more centrally on threats to the self and the possibility of self-representation posed by the process of representation itself. In Book IV of The Prelude, the dynamic of passion and memory operates through the image of self-knowledge as a ‘reflection.’ The motion from past to present is a totalization of the self by means of metonymical substitution: the mere eye that looks into the water receives a whole image. But as the word hang, deeps, and gleam suggest, the motion is not necessary to lead to a totality of the self. Passion and prop of affection is always already involved in the self-reflection, preventing it from closing upon itself. The complex dynamic of passion and memory thus is inimical to self-representation. The Blessed Babe passage in Book II is also governed by the figure of passage, present here in the word passion as a sort of originary movement. The self-recognition of the poet is structured as crossing between past and present relations. Here substitution occurs as a transformation of the negation of the mother into a positive gain of nature. But the phrase ‘unknown cause’ and the reference to a ‘trouble’ imply the disruption of the passage from the maternal props to natural properties. The dominant mood of Yeats's earliest poetry is one of narcissistic self-contemplation. The poet in the mood does not contemplate a thing in nature but the working of his own mind. The outside world is used as a pretext and a mirror for self-representation. In “The Song of the Happy Shepherd,” the shell is not sheer nature, impressing itself upon a passively receptive consciousness, but the subjective dream of a human imagination. In spite of the apparent replacement of all the substance of the object by its reflection, however, the image of the shell remains altogether conditioned by the existence of this object. The reflection can be left to exist as a mere phantom of the self without substantial existence of nature. The failure is made explicit in “The Sad Shepherd” where the same shell shatters his song into confusion. Yeats is well aware of this paradox. In order to escape from this narcissistic predicament, for example, he uses the image of a parrot in “The Indian to His Love” who rages “at his own image in the enamelled sea.”


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  • 윤일환 Yoon,Ilhwan. 부산대


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