Friday, April 25, 2008

Drabble, Margaret. "Poor Dorothy Wordsworth." TIMES April 23, 2008.

Wilson, Frances. The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth. London: Faber, 2008. Dorothy Wordsworth wrote much and published little, but despite her reticence much has been written about her. Frances Wilson gives us a new and at times startling reading of this enigmatic woman, and does not shy away from discussing what the editor of her letters, Alan G. Hill, described as the “peculiarly insensitive and maladroit” post-Freudian interpretations that have clustered round Dorothy’s relationship with her brother William. Wilson is neither insensitive nor maladroit. She is bold, witty, scholarly and speculative. She is not always respectful, but she is always interesting. She takes on incest, migraines, voyeurism and, at one point, what she describes as a note of “post-coital intensity” in Dorothy’s prose. This gripping narrative presents a character more subtle than the devoted, self-effacing amanuensis of tradition, or the later feminist stereotype. The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth does not claim that Dorothy was a better writer than her brother, or that he repressed her talent by demanding sympathy and giblet pies. What really went on in Dove Cottage remains mysterious, and, as Wilson says, there are parts of the story which we will never know. . . . The rest is here:

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