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7 July 1983
William WordsworthThe Borders of Vision 
by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Oxford, 496 pp., £25, February 1983, 0 19 812097 4
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William WordsworthThe Poetry of Grandeur and of Tenderness 
by David Pirie.
Methuen, 301 pp., £14.95, March 1982, 0 416 31300 0
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Benjamin the Waggoner 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Paul Betz.
Cornell/Harvester, 356 pp., £40, September 1981, 0 85527 513 8
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... One evening, declares Jonathan Wordsworth as he begins his new critical book, a poet happened to be walking along a road, when the peasant who was with him pointed out a striking sight:         ’Twas a horse, that stood Alone upon ...
20 April 1989
William WordsworthA Life 
by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, 525 pp., £17.50, March 1989, 0 19 812828 2
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... if only in indirect ways, offer some representation of their own life, but the biographer faces a particular problem where interpretation has already been shaped by his subject in autobiography. Wordsworth was not the only writer of his period to dislike the public appetite for private information, or to seek to forestall the biographer’s ‘abominable use’ of letters and personal anecdote by ...

A Regular Bull

Christopher Hitchens

31 July 1997
Whittaker Chambers: A Biography 
by Sam Tanenhaus.
Random House, 640 pp., $35, February 1997, 0 394 58559 3
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... presence waiting behind a desk. ‘Sit down Mr Bellow. Tell me, what did you study at university?’ Bellow replied that his study had been English literature. He was asked to give his opinion of WilliamWordsworth as a poet. He responded that he had always thought of WilliamWordsworth as one of the Romantics. ‘There is no place for you,’ said Chambers on hearing this, ‘in this organisation ...
2 May 1985
Letters of Dorothy WordsworthA Selection 
edited by Alan Hill.
Oxford, 200 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 19 818539 1
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Dorothy Wordsworth 
by Robert Gittings and Jo Manton.
Oxford, 318 pp., £12.50, March 1985, 0 19 818519 7
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The Pedlar, Tintern Abbey, The Two-Part Prelude 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Cambridge, 76 pp., £7.95, January 1985, 0 521 26526 6
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The Ruined Cottage, The Brothers, Michael 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Jonathan Wordsworth.
Cambridge, 82 pp., £7.95, January 1985, 0 521 26525 8
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... Wordsworth’s genius lay in its own sort of negative capability. The most striking feature of his poetry, as of his personality, is their intense and intimate relations with what always remained outside them ...

In the Turner Gallery

Peter Campbell: Coleridge’s Note-Taking

26 February 2009
... In the first volume of his Coleridge biography, Richard Holmes describes Coleridge and Dorothy and WilliamWordsworth working ‘like plein-air painters, taking elaborate notes on the varied effects of light on the landscape, of plants and water, of wind and cloud and starlight’. They were under surveillance ...

Reticulation

Frank Kermode: Wordsworth​ at Sea

6 February 2003
The Wreck of the ‘Abergavenny’ 
by Alethea Hayter.
Macmillan, 223 pp., £14.99, September 2002, 0 333 98917 1
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... she really does illuminate the culture and society of her chosen moment. Her interest in the wreck of the East-Indiaman Abergavenny arose primarily from the circumstance that its captain was John Wordsworth, brother of the more famous William and Dorothy. His death in 1805 at the outset of what was to have been his last voyage before he retired (at 34) caused convulsions of sorrow at Grasmere, where he ...

Wordsworth​ in Love

Jonathan Wordsworth

15 October 1981
... the game to a literary scene, one would have no trouble at all with the later Romantics – Byron, Shelley, Keats. Among the older generation, Blake and Coleridge might be a little more difficult. Wordsworth for most would be impossible. To Shelley he seemed ‘a solemn and unsexual man’ (‘Peter Bell the Third’), and even the revelation early in this century that he had a French girlfriend, and ...
8 December 1988
Wordsworth​ and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 306 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 19 812868 1
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... I am of that odious class of men called democrats,’ Wordsworth wrote to his friend William Mathews in 1794. Much the same can be said of Coleridge, on the evidence of his letters and publications of the mid-1790s. By the early decades of this century, British, French and American ...
19 June 1997
The Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £25, December 1996, 0 631 18746 4
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Coleridge: Selected Poems 
edited by Richard Holmes.
HarperCollins, 358 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 00 255579 4
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Coleridge’s Later Poetry 
by Morton Paley.
Oxford, 147 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 19 818372 0
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A Choice of Coleridge’s Verse 
edited by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 232 pp., £7.99, March 1996, 0 571 17604 6
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... even for Coleridge himself, had he simply ceased to exist during the first years of the 19th century. In certain respects it is as if he had. After the first glorious days of his friendship with Wordsworth, Coleridge set about – or perhaps only resumed – a course of procrastination and ruin from which it seemed decent to avert one’s eyes. His life grew complicated and his poetry sparse, and his ...

Bumming and Booing

John Mullan: William Wordsworth

5 April 2001
WordsworthA Life 
by Juliet Barker.
Viking, 971 pp., £25, October 2000, 9780670872138
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The Hidden Wordsworth 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Pimlico, 690 pp., £15, September 2000, 0 7126 6752 0
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Disowned by Memory: Wordsworth’s Poetry of the 1790s 
by David Bromwich.
Chicago, 186 pp., £9.50, April 2000, 0 226 07556 7
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... vérité is Lurie’s class on Book vi of The Prelude, the crossing of the Alps, delivered to sullen and silent students. The more they refuse to respond, the more excitable becomes his commentary on Wordsworth’s exploration of ‘the limits of sense-perception’. ‘For as long as he can remember, the harmonies of The Prelude have echoed within him,’ but in the classroom the echo stays inside his head ...

One Bit of Rock or Moor

Susan Eilenberg: Wordsworth​ and the Victorians

3 September 1998
Wordsworth​ and the Victorians 
by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, 300 pp., £25, April 1998, 0 19 811965 8
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The Five-Book Prelude 
by William Wordsworth, edited by Duncan Wu.
Blackwell, 214 pp., £40, April 1997, 0 631 20548 9
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... Durability was what mattered. Wordsworth founded his poetry on what he called ‘the beautiful and permanent forms of nature’ and built it according to ‘the primary laws of our nature’. It cleaved stubbornly to facts, to countable ...
20 April 1989
A Culture for Democracy: Mass Communication and the Cultivated Mind in Britain between the Wars 
by D.L. LeMahieu.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, June 1988, 0 19 820137 0
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... victory to the newspaper proprietor). At a certain level their function is to compete with one another for public attention, rather than acting as the spokesmen for inherently incompatible values. WilliamWordsworth, whose essays and prefaces originated much of the rhetoric of high-cultural debate, distinguishes between a taste for poetry – which involves active mental participation by the reader ...

I am a false alarm

Robert Irwin: Khalil Gibran

3 September 1998
Kahlil Gibran: Man and Poet 
by Suheil Bushrui and Joe Jenkins.
One World, 372 pp., £18.99, August 1998, 1 85168 177 9
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Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran 
by Robin Waterfield.
Allen Lane, 366 pp., £20, August 1998, 0 7139 9209 3
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... figure. In Paris he knew Debussy, while Rodin went so far as to acclaim him as ‘the Blake of the 20th century’. As it happened, Gibran could remember not only his previous reincarnation as William Blake, but also a subsequent incarnation as Dante Gabriel Rossetti. During the First World War he was offered a high-ranking political post and agents of the Ottoman Empire tried to assassinate him ...
8 November 1979
Field Work 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 64 pp., £3, June 1979, 0 571 11433 4
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... There are no exclamations, even of gratitude, just a sense of gratitude. What could be less novel than those new potatoes? Some may think that this is bathos, but the presence within these poems of WilliamWordsworth (Dorothy and he at one point make a fleeting appearance, grave comic spectres not lightly to be called up for comparison) is a reminder that after the Augustans had derided it there really ...
16 April 1981
Ideas and the Novel 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 121 pp., £4.95, February 1981, 9780297778967
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... the 1780s and 1790s, which produced a range of writers for whom explicit political comment within works of art was not merely allowable but necessary? They included Blake, Burns, and the younger Wordsworth and Coleridge, as well as a host of lesser figures, some of whom were novelists. In William Godwin’s Caleb Williams the era produced a novel of ideas that not only did without a conventional love ...

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