Buried Communities

Wordsworth and the Bonds of Mourning

By Kurt Fosso

Subjects: English Literature
Paperback : 9780791459607, 308 pages, January 2007
Hardcover : 9780791459591, 308 pages, December 2003

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Table of contents


Abbreviations and Editions


1. A "World of Shades": The Birth of Community in the Juvenilia

2. Grief and Dwelling in the Cambridge Poems, including An Evening Walk

3. Genre, Politics, and Community in the Salisbury Plain Poems

4. Shades of Mourning and the One Life in The Ruined Cottage

5. Elegies, Epitaphs, and Legacies of Loss in Lyrical Ballads

6. Grieving and Dwelling in the Five-Book Prelude and Home at Grasmere

7. "A New Controul" in Poems in Two Volumes and The Excursion


Selected Bibliography


Offers an explanation for the poet's mysterious and longstanding preoccupation with death and grief.


Kurt Fosso's Buried Communities analyzes the social relationship between mourning and community in William Wordsworth's writings from 1785 to 1814. In close readings of such major works as The Ruined Cottage, Lyrical Ballads, The Prelude, and The Excursion, Fosso uncovers the idea of mournful community, or what Wordsworth cryptically proclaimed to be a "spiritual community binding together the living and the dead. " In addition to offering an explanation for the poet's mysterious, longstanding preoccupation with death and grief, Fosso discovers a poetry insistently social in orientation—and consistently social in character—and uncovers significant coherence between the poet's early and later works. Buried Communities situates Wordsworth as a reformist during a time of social and political crisis, for whom mourning promised to bind together his disaffected countrymen and disjointed world. With its sociological vantage and strong commitment to historical explanation, the book illuminates an important, previously unseen vista for understanding this Romantic poet's representations of death and grief and significantly reframes the cultural dynamics of the Romantic period in Britain.

Kurt Fosso is Associate Professor of English at Lewis & Clark College.