13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Prelude: The Four Texts (1798, 1799, 1805, 1850) (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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.