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Disowned by Memory: Wordworth's Poetry of the 1790s
     

Disowned by Memory: Wordworth's Poetry of the 1790s

by David Bromwich, Bromwich
 

Although we know him as one of the greatest English poets, William Wordsworth might not have become a poet at all without the experience of personal and historical catastrophe in his youth. In Disowned by Memory, David Bromwich connects the accidents of Wordsworth's life with the originality of his writing, showing how the poet's strong sympathy with the

Overview


Although we know him as one of the greatest English poets, William Wordsworth might not have become a poet at all without the experience of personal and historical catastrophe in his youth. In Disowned by Memory, David Bromwich connects the accidents of Wordsworth's life with the originality of his writing, showing how the poet's strong sympathy with the political idealism of the age and with the lives of the outcast and the dispossessed formed the deepest motive of his writings of the 1790s.

"This very Wordsworthian combination of apparently low subjects with extraordinary 'high argument' makes for very rewarding, though often challenging reading."—Kenneth R. Johnston, Washington Times

"Wordsworth emerges from this short and finely written book as even stranger than we had thought, and even more urgently our contemporary."—Grevel Lindop, Times Literary Supplement

"[Bromwich's] critical interpretations of the poetry itself offer readers unusual insights into Wordworth's life and work."—Library Journal

"An added benefit of this book is that it restores our faith that criticism can actually speak to our needs. Bromwich is a rigorous critic, but he is a general one whose insights are broadly applicable. It's an intellectual pleasure to rise to his complexities."—Vijay Seshadri, New York Times Book Review

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The poetry of the first decade of Wordsworth's career is some of his most memorable. According to Bromwich (English, Yale), Wordsworth turned to poetry after the French Revolution to articulate the ideals of human dignity and solidarity. Bromwich engages in dazzling close readings of poems like "Tintern Abbey," "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal," and "The Old Cumberland Beggar" as he contends that Wordsworth's early poetry has "radical acts of human solidarity" as its theme. Bromwich combines the of psychology, history, and biography to uncover the contexts for these poems, but his critical interpretations of the poetry itself offer readers unusual insights into Wordsworth's life and work. Highly recommended for both large public libraries and academic libraries.--Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., OH
Booknews
Bromwich (English, Yale U.) reinterprets the British poet's early work in terms of personal catastrophe's and political opinions as a child and young man. He points out poems that reflect how Wordsworth lost both parents when young, grew up in the company of vagabonds on English country roads, left for France at age 21 to take part in the Revolution, and left a lover and child when he returned to England. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Vijay Seshadri
This is in a sense the real story of the growth of Wordsworth's mind, and Bromwich tells it with an intricate moral discrimination....His skepticism and his stringently moral critical bias serve Bromwich brilliantly in his close readings of the poems...
The New York Times Book Review
Times Literary Supplement
David Bromwich's reading [are] sensitive, startling and persuasive. Wordsworth emerges from this short and finely written book as even stranger than we had thought, and even more urgently our contemporary.
Scott McEathron
Bromwich's subtlety and finesse as a close reader of individual poems can hardly be overstated, and the book is full of marvelous formulations about poems whose gradations of tone and argument are notorious difficult to judge.
Charles Lamb Bulletin

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226075563
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
11/15/1998
Pages:
193
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Frank Kermode
Like all of David Bromwich's work, Disowned by Memory is calmly and judiciously original. It's careful appraisal of Wordsworth's responses to guilt and sorrow constitutes a far more impressive reappraisal of the poetry than we have repeatedly been offered in recent years, as any impartial reader can decide by reading the chapter on the Tintern Abbey poem. But the book is equally persuasive elsewhere.

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