chapter  5
Mary Jacobus 'Splitting the Race of Man in Twain': Prostitution, Personification and The Prelude
Pages 27

What notions of language, of speaking and of writing, are involved in the writing of autobiography, and how and why are they gendered? These are the fundamental questions Mary Jacobus pursues in Romanticism, Writing, and Sexual Difference: Essays on The Prelude (1989). The chapter included here focuses on the peculiar vicissitudes of prosopopoeia or personification, the form of figurative language identified by Paul de Man (in The Rhetoric of Romanticism) with autobiography. Jacobus posits that both the self-difference involved in language or representation and sexual difference itself threaten the subject's illusion of integrity, and she traces the very diverse ways in which these threats are represented and displaced and made to stand for one another, in writings of Freud as well as in nineteenth-century texts. In this essay Jacobus makes us see the immense and complex effort that goes into the repression of sexual difference in Wordsworth's autobiographical poem.