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Touchstone of Romanticism
on 1 October 2013
Lyrical Ballads is a very important piece of work, not just within the Romanticism movement but within English Literature. This book is exceptionally useful in that it sets contains both the 1798 and 1802 editions.
As is to be expected, this OUP edition contains a useful introduction, extensive endnotes, well presented line numbers alongside the verses.
I would say that this ediion is probably more aimed at the A-Level of undergraduate student studying Romanticism in some detail. There is considerable overlap between the 1798 and 1802 editions (of course, the latter contains extra poems and a useful preface which aren't in the 1798 edition). Where verses differ, the editor often draws the reader's attention to this in the notes. This is very interesting from an acadmic perspective and provides fertile ground for anyone looking to understand how Romanticism developed within those four years, or even do a comparison between different versions. But as something to plonk on the bookshelf at home and delve into from time to time... it's slightly unecessarily too much. There was of course an 1800 edition which, although alluded to from time to time, does not feature completely in this edition. If I were back at university studying Wordsworth, Coleridge or Romanticism more generally, this book would be at the top of my list. In this way, it is similar to the Penguin Classics edition of "The Prelude" (all four editions from 1798, 1979, 1805 and 1850 in one book!).
The only reason I have given this four stars is because, if someone is merely after a tome they can place in their coat pocket and dip into/read while commuting, this is probably ever so slightly too specialist in its contents. I think the OUP edition of "The Major Works" by Wordsworth and the separate OUP edition of "The Major Works" by Coleridge would perhaps be a better introduction into either/both of these two poets.