The Romantic political economy of reading: Or, why Wordsworth thought Adam Smith was the worst critic ever

Thomas Hugh Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Why did Wordsworth call Smith the worst critic ever? It wasn t because he thought economics and literature were radically distinct: both men saw these domains as interfused. Nor was it because Wordsworth opposed Smith s argument that mass education defused workingclass unrest: Wordsworth himself advanced this argument in The Excursion. Nor was it because Smith s argument, drawing on Hume, implied the historicization of readerly experience: This historicization was central to Wordsworth s poetics. But Smith s debt to Hume meant that his theory also implied the feminisation of the mass readership. This formed the kernel of Wordsworth s oppositionwhich was as much to himself as to Smith. (c) 2013 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575 - 595
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Cite this