Studies and Appreciations

Studies and Appreciations

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Studies and Appreciations

Studies and Appreciations

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The era of modern life, in England as in France, dates from 1789. The nineteenth century began in the year in which the shock of the French Revolution went crisping over the nerves of the nations of Europe, stirred all men to novel thoughts and new moods, and startled them into fresh ways of envisaging life. If, however, the student of English literature wants a specifically literary and a national date for the beginning of the new era, the year 1800 offers itself as curiously apt; in that year appeared Wordsworth's Preface to the Lyrical Ballads , which as truly though not so consciously as Hugo's Preface to Cromwell nearly thirty years later, was the manifesto of a revolutionary movement. Wrong-headed as was Wordsworth's declaration that the Muse ought to speak with the burr of Cumberland peasants, and absurd as was the tangle of inconsistencies into which his acceptance of metre and his rejection of all other differences between prose and poetry betrayed him, yet even these parts of his Preface, because of their plea for veraciousness in poetry and their insistence on poetry as the natural idiom for deep . . .

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