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Abstract

In his article "Reading Wordsworth with Hegel and Deleuze" Douglas Berman reexamines Wordsworth poem, The Ruined Cottage, in terms of the importance of the Pedlar, who serves as the witness and singular moral authority in the text. Berman focuses on the inherent tension between impermanence, as exemplified by the trope of wandering, and the redemptive vision which shapes the ending of the second version of the poem (1798). While recognizing the strength of earlier critics, particularly the New Historicists, who emphasized Wordsworth's displacement of social and material reality into nature, Berman argues that wandering, both in its physical form, and as metaphor for impermanence, undermines the quest for permanence, complicating thematically and linguistically, our efforts to wrest any coherent interpretation from the text. Instead of relying on the Hegelian Aufhebung as dominant paradigm, a critical interpretation based on a "Deleuzian" structure may be more fruitful in helping us understand the challenges Wordsworth faced when writing the poem – and, in particular, his conceptualization of nature – and better appreciate its power, even while acknowledging that, to adopt this paradigm works against the grain of Wordsworth's own text.