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The Romantic poetas exemplified by Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keatsis attracted to and made anxious by two opposite ideas of the self. On the one hand, he identifies with the inner self as a mind wholly at one with its perceptions and with the world as an image within it. On the other hand, since this inner self is wholly private, the poet turns to others for confirmation of its reality, either literally in direct confrontations, or figuratively, in the "voice" and workmanship of his text. Because his dependence on others for a sense of his own reality jeopardizes the poet's feelings of self-possession, however, he tries to minimize this threat by manipulating of preempting others' responses to him. Previous discussions of the Romantic self have focused on the self as a mental power immanent in the vision of the world it shapes. Charles Rzepka now draws our attention to the poet's attitude toward the self as socially formed and confirmed, and the effects of this attitude on Romantic poetry and perception.
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