Fall 1987 • Vol. IX No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 1987 |

The Idea in the Mirror: Reflections on the Consciousness of Consciousness

I Hamlet's speech to the players in which he admonishes them to hold "the mirror up to nature" has given us one of the criteria for literary art that has prevailed to this day: … the purpose of playing … was and is to hold, as 'twere the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. (III, 2, 21-25) By the nineteenth century, particularly in the poetry of Wordsworth, the emphasis on art as imitation was augmented by an equal emphasis on what the artist added to what he perceived. In The Prelude, Wordsworth describes the artist's fabricating power in relation to God: That through the growing faculties of sense Doth like an agent of the one great Mind Create, creator and receiver both, Working but in alliance with the works Which it beholds. (The Prelude, II, 257-260) Wordsworth implies here that works of art are an extension of nature and must be regarded as part

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