Wordsworth: Lectures and Essays

Wordsworth: Lectures and Essays

Wordsworth: Lectures and Essays

Wordsworth: Lectures and Essays

Excerpt

Not modesty, but common decency, obliges me to say that this book was provoked by two much better ones. Whether this gives it an excuse, or deprives it of one, I am not sure. The book is an amplification of a course of lectures delivered in Oxford, at the invitation of the Professor of English Literature, so long ago as the summer of 1919. When the lectures were first prepared, Mr. Harper William Wordsworth still ranked as a new book. When I began to shape them for publication, M. Émile Legouis had just produced a second edition of his Jeunesse de William Wordsworth. What I owe to the stimulus of these two books (of which, however, I know the second only in its first edition) will be obvious, and is, I hope, sufficiently acknowledged in the text. I trust at the same time that I have reacted upon the stimulus with what I may call a manly, but not unmannerly, self-assertion. What my debt is to other books, I should find it difficult to say--some of them, that I might not be too much tied to better talents than my own, I have deliberately forborne to re-read. But I am moved to put on record here the ineffaceable impression left upon my mind by the period, now some thirty years since, when I first made acquaintance with Matthew Arnold Poems of Wordsworth. As a critic of poetry Matthew Arnold is now thought, I am told, somewhat démodé. I think it a pity; for even if he marred by some degree of affectation . . .

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