William Wordsworth: A Literary Life, 1st Edition by John Williams (auth.)

By John Williams (auth.)

In William Wordsworth, John Williams presents an in depth account of Wordsworth's evolution as a poet. This contains his earliest identified writing whereas a student at Hawkshead Grammar university, and his later poetry, frequently almost neglected by way of critics. Wordsworth's ambivalent angle in the direction of looking for a public readership past his instant circle of neighbors and admirers is a principal hindrance of the publication. This includes an review of the poet's transferring experience of his political allegiances along the pressures of non-public relationships and circumstances.

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They were travelling through France in the early, heady days of the Revolution. Without fully entering into the politics of the event - considered, no doubt, to be primarily a French affair - the message was once more one of freedom, an ideal for him at this stage rather than a political credo, but no less significant for that. The Prelude, of course, offers us a reconstruction of the experience relevant to the time at which it was being written in 1804-5; what we have from 1790 is the journal letter he wrote to Dorothy dated 28 September.

2 Wordsworth's reference to his meeting with Charlotte Smith offers us at least two possible narratives. The first has been indicated; she reinforces the image of Wordsworth preparing himself for an exciting voyage of discovery into Revolutionary France. The second is the narrative suggested by the style of the letter to Richard. 3 There is more than a hint of this in the way he finishes his account of his meeting with her; he wants to be sure that the right people know about it: 'This with my best affection you will be so good as to mention to Captn.

For all that, Paris was clearly where the action was, and Wordsworth's sense that he was an observer rather than a participant in events must have been shared by many others in the town; it is not to be considered as peculiarly the fate of a foreigner. 'The truth is', he wrote to Mathews in May 1792, 'that in London you have perhaps a better opportunity of being informed of the general concerns of France, than in a petty provincial town in the heart of the king[dom] itself (EY 77). This is not to say that Wordsworth could find nothing to do.

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