Cover image for Disowned by memory : Wordsworth's poetry of the 1790s
Disowned by memory : Wordsworth's poetry of the 1790s
Bromwich, David, 1951-
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Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xi, 186 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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PR5888 .B76 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

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.¬ĎHenry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this excellent, closely reasoned book, Bromwich (Yale) argues that it is a mistake to try to ascertain what kind of thinker Wordsworth was; rather, "his work is more primary than that; it is a portrait of the conditions for thinking." This is a Wordsworth who in his poetry written during the 1790s betrays the influence of his involvement in the French Revolution; who struggles with the role of memory in the creation of a mind and an identity; and for whom finally experience and the attempt to understand it come to seem sufficient. Thus, Bromwich believes, recent critics who stress the poet's retreat from radicalism as the key to many of his great poems have oversimplified and even misunderstood his mental and poetic life. The author's analyses of "Tintern Abbey," "The Old Cumberland Beggar," The Borderers, and "Michael" are original and provocative, challenging such critics as Jerome McGann in The Romantic Ideology (CH, Nov'83) and Marjorie Levinson in Wordsworth's Great Period Poems (1986). Notes, but no bibliography. Readership: upper-division undergraduate and above. M. Minor; Morehead State University