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Wordsworth: A Life

by Juliet Barker

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1301209,602 (3.89)8
Orphaned and dependent on the charity of unsympathetic relatives, Wordsworth became the archetypal teenage rebel. He went to Revolutionary France, where he fathered an illegitimate daughter and became a committed republican. His poetry was as revolutionary as his politics, challenging convention in form, style, and subject, and earning him the contempt of critics. Only the encouragement of a group of supporters, above all Coleridge, kept him true to his poetic vocation. In the half-century that followed, his reputation was transformed. His advocacy of imagination and feeling touched a chord in an increasingly industrial, mechanistic age, and his influence was profoundly felt in every sphere of life. In the last decade of his life, his home became a place of pilgrimage for people who came to pay their respects to his genius. His legacy, as a poet and as the spiritual founder of the conservation movement, remains with us today.--From publisher description.… (more)
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A detailed biography that is sympathetic to the great Romantic poet. A huge amount of research. Vast supply of notes and references. Juliet Barker treats her subject with respect and objectivity. I enjoyed it, despite having to make a determined effort to complete the reading.
The cast of relations and friends is massive, so much so that often one is lost for remembering who is related to whom, in a welter of cousins, in-laws and the families of friends.
What stands out is the prodigious walking these Lakeland people did; the elaborate and long trips they made (before and after the introduction of the railway) and the truly exhaustive hospitality that they provided and expected. The Wordsworths were so often at the mercy of sudden debt or financial misfortune that one must admire their resilience and unfailing ability to assist each other when illness, death and disaster struck.
Alongside this of course, is the creation of the poetry by WW himself and Barker plots this progress thoroughly.
  ivanfranko | Oct 26, 2020 |
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Orphaned and dependent on the charity of unsympathetic relatives, Wordsworth became the archetypal teenage rebel. He went to Revolutionary France, where he fathered an illegitimate daughter and became a committed republican. His poetry was as revolutionary as his politics, challenging convention in form, style, and subject, and earning him the contempt of critics. Only the encouragement of a group of supporters, above all Coleridge, kept him true to his poetic vocation. In the half-century that followed, his reputation was transformed. His advocacy of imagination and feeling touched a chord in an increasingly industrial, mechanistic age, and his influence was profoundly felt in every sphere of life. In the last decade of his life, his home became a place of pilgrimage for people who came to pay their respects to his genius. His legacy, as a poet and as the spiritual founder of the conservation movement, remains with us today.--From publisher description.

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