on 19 April 2006
Besides being a wonderful poem, "The Prelude" gives us a unique insight into the life of the poet through his own words. The four versions give us a chance to appreciate how the poet grows and develops and how his views change over time. In many cases, changes to the 1805 manuscript appearing in the final 1850 publication do not seem to be improvements at all, but attempts to cover up previous indiscretions or to subdue outbursts of passion. The sentiment of the newer portions is often far from that of the earlier drafts. The two much shorter initial drafts, "Was It for This" and the Two-part Prelude of 1799, are very different to the later books and show a superb command of language.
Not surprisingly, Wordsworth's relationship with nature is a major theme throughout the poem. The direct effect of growing up in the countryside is perhaps revealed more plainly than in his other poems and a quasi-religious philosophy is evident.
This Penguin version seems to me to offer as much as one could want for a non-academic reader. The 120-odd pages of notes are quite sufficient to understand the poem thoroughly.
This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys romantic poetry, nature or autobiography. Not a book to be rushed though. Highly recommended.
on 17 November 2011
Sadly disappointed to find that the two main versions of The Prelude are unreadable on the kindle. They are merged and the breaks between the two versions are not navigable except by paging down until you find the next instance of the version you are reading. Until there is a new digital format buy the book. Amazon, to whom I am grateful, have refunded the purchase.
I wrote to Penguin two and a half weeks ago questioning the formatting, but have had no response; a pity I think.
on 22 November 2000
This is an astonishing poem. It ranges over vast tracts of mankind's existence - in following the life of one man, Wordsworth himself, he allows us glimpses of universal themes and ideas. Schooldays, childhood, adolescence, university, adulthood, death, nature, joy, sadness, fear, the city, revolutions, wars, betrayal, hope, idealism, friendship, love - everything is here. Partly a memoir, partly reportage (of the French Revolution), partly a love story, a justification, a conversation . . . This is Wordsworth's way of wishing for a better mankind, his way of showing us that we are better than we think we are. We are "of fabric and of substance more divine". Not all the passages of this poem grip you, but stick it out - you can find meaning everywhere. It educates you, as literature should. This edition is excellent - the notes and introduction are full, interesting and illuminating; the parallel texts show the sadness of Wordsworth's revisions. The Prelude was his life, in more ways than one - it is his gift to posterity, and what a gift!
on 24 October 2001
To close the book...means nothing. the Prelude is sill so fresh in your mind, every word echoes the other in a sort of unison of...divinity. There is so much in this book, you are plunged in his intimacy, sharing like an old friend the good and the bad, love, joy, fear, tragedy. Life is almost palpable in every line, in every word, in every feeling, in every tear Wordsworth is capable of drawing from you telling his life, preparing the stage of his death, like a prelude to his death. This is an amazing book. How not to feel the Sublime and the Beautiful, how not to admire a peaceful and caring Nature, how not to imagine those landscapes Wordsworth describes? Reading the book again, closing it again and reshelving it again, I realise that I am very close to him, and that I would have liked to meet him, just once, just to walk a while with him, just to smell the sacred daffodils. I am almost certain he would have smiled at me and said: "For oft...".
His genius is alive through his lines, the beauty is alive through his verse, and poetry is alive through the Prelude.All that was in him is in the Prelude, obvious and ciphered, like the palimpsest of his memory. The Prelude is dedicated to all those who feel Nature`s throbbing heart, those who can hear poetry`s divine melody, those who love honesty, simplicity and complexity, those who want to recollect any feeling, any sensation forgotten or hidden in them. The Prelude is an ode to Nature, Youth, Joy, Love, War, Peace, Friendship, God, Poetry and any thing that composes Life. The Prelude is an ode to Memory, Remembrance, and to the memory of this incredible "Uber" man who, not hubrystically, succeeded in touching the grace of the God and of the Divine with the tip of his finger. He is one of these men who will never die, like Dante or Shakespeare, because even in the darkest future, there will ever be a line by him quoted for the eternity of time. Thank you, William. Et genius facta est.
on 7 March 2015
A terribly convoluted style this 'poet' has. In no way should this be counted among the great works of the romantic poets. Wordsworth is a shallow, abstracted man with a propensity for supreme laziness in his style: the frequent repetition of phrases seems just simply for the sake of it. When speaking on his childhood he manages to display flourishes of emotion; it was when reaching his ramblings on the French Revolution that my urge to throw this book against the wall reached fever-pitch - no clarity of position, just endless circumlocution and incongruent talk of 'nature'. Perhaps I am missing something, though I don't think I shall ever try reading again in the hope of getting it.