From the Editor: Landmark Works and Commemorations

Wordsworth Circle, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

From the Editor: Landmark Works and Commemorations


Landmark Works and Commemorations: For the 2005 meeting of the Wordsworth-Coleridge Association in Washington D.C., we invited contributions on "Landmark Works," books and articles published during the 20th century that characterized and shaped the discipline. As a model, we cited Seamus Perry's article in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of The Mirror and the Lamp (Essays on Criticism 54[2004] 260-82), an insightful and eloquent reminder of the special gifts our community has for, as Wordsworth called it, a "song of thanks and praise." One certainly can't over-rate a book of literary scholarship and interpretation that, at age fifty, inspires a worldly and influential newsweekly, Time Magazine, to revise its defining metaphor. As reported in the New York Times (September 4, 2006), "'We've traditionally been a mirror, and to me, we more and more have to be a lamp,' Mr. Stengel [the new managing editor] said invoking the title of the study of Romantic literature by M. H. Abrams. 'As a lamp, you're shining a light on something'." Thanks to Mike Abrams, Romanticism rules.

Missing from our contributions were the journals either founded or revived such as SiR, TWC, Blake Quarterly, The Charles Lamb Bullelin, The Byron Journal, European Romanticism, NCC, Keats-Shelley Journal, Friends of Coleridge, and so many more. Also, missing were the many monumental editions of all the poets, novelists, and prose writers, men and women, editions of letters and journals, biographies, bibliographies, facsimiles, collections of fugitive reviews and newspaper articles, and the textbooks, some, such as Russell Noyes, English Romantic Poetry and Prose (1957) still in print and widely used. There will always be room in TWC for contributions to Landmark works.

Shortly after TWC began, one of the first advisors, Earl Wasserman died. Writing an appropriate eulogy to this brilliant and generous man, indeed writing any eulogy seemed impossible. As if we could keep everyone alive by avoiding eulogies, we began publishing "Profiles of Contemporaries," celebrations of living scholars to share the pleasure of admiring those who inspired us. Nina Auerbach's "Profile" of Carl Woodring (XI [Summer, 1980], 180-183), was in itself a landmark work, and the basis of the paper on Woodring (below), presented at the MLA meeting in place of a paper on Tom McFarland, which was dropped due to illness. A Profile of McFarland, written by the late Father Robert Barth, originally published in TWC, Summer, 1984, will appear in the much-delayed issue, summer, 2006, devoted to the history of the Wordsworth Summer Conference in which they participated. Again, because our readers enjoyed them, we invite Profiles of distinguished contemporaries, any length at any time.

Commemorations: This belated spring issue of TWC marks the end of what has been a winnowing year in our community--starting with the loss of Father Robert Barth (October, 2005), Robert Woof a month later, Jonathan Wordsworth in June, Betty Bennet in August, followed by my colleague and advisor, Paul Magnuson. While writing eulogies is still the most difficult task, his is one I can hardly express at all. It is brief, terse, spare, much as many of us remember him--except his students whose songs of thanks and praise, his concern for their works and their lives, his high standards, rigor, and focus continue to energize them. On September 6, 2006, after lecturing on the French Revolution, his first class of the term in English Romanticism, his students eager, as they always have been, for all the classes to follow, Paul Magnuson died in his sleep. His books include Coleridge's Nightmare Poelry (1974), Coleridge and Wordsworth: A Lyrical Dialogue (1988), Reading Public Romanticism (1988), and, as editor with Raimonda Modiano and Nicholas Halmi, the Norton Critical Edition of Coleridge's Poetry and Prose (2004). The author of numerous essays himself and book reviews, he served as review editor of TWC during a crucial period, his attentive and understated style eliciting such famous reviews as E. …

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