Wordsworth in Early American Criticism

By Annabel Newton | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

In the criticism which has been presented, we have seen that while Wordsworth was appreciated by the discriminating few from the beginning of his poetic career, America, on the whole, either neglected him altogether or regarded him with an aspect of indifference until 1824. In that year, the magazine reviewers, taking their cue partly from the changed attitude of the English critics, awoke, as if from a long Rip Van Winklish sleep, during which they had been oblivious of what was taking place in the poetic world, to the realization that Wordsworth really was a great genius whose poems were worth reading. They proceeded to peruse these productions carefully and thus discover for themselves their intrinsic worth. These American critics were now no longer afraid to speak out, since they had the favorable criticism of the leading English magazines to give them moral and intellectual backing. Some of them were probably humiliated by being obliged to confess their tardy recognition and thus acknowledge their lack of independent aesthetic appreciation.

In 1824, the American magazines came forth with apologies for the neglect of Wordsworth, a neglect which had been common to their countrymen, and, giving much space to Wordsworth reviews, succeeded in overcoming the indifference of the reading public and helped to awaken an interest in the English poet and his works,

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