Dr. Nicholas Halmi

Texts | Evaluation | Syllabus | Group project | Further reading (Wordsworth and Shelley)


Proceeding from the sonnet "To Wordsworth," in which Shelley at once identifies with Wordsworth as an observer of human loss and castigates him as a political apostate, this course will examine selected poetical and prose works of the two poets in the contexts of Romantic-era history and twentieth-century criticism. Issues to be considered include the poets' conceptions of the relationship between humanity ands nature, their responses to the major political events of their time, their definitions of the poets' role in society, and their transformations of the poetic tradition. One goal of the course is to determine how much the two poets have in common despite Shelley's publicly and privately expressed disappointment with Wordsworth.

TEXTS: William Wordsworth, ed. Stephen Gill (Oxford Authors); Shelley's Poetry and Prose, ed. Donald Reiman and Sharon Powers (Norton Critical Edition). Additional texts will be provided in photocopy. A bibliography of primary and secondary material is provided below.

EVALUATION: class participation (20%), group project (20%), five-page essay (25%), ten-page essay (35%)

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Jan. 8 Introduction; Shelley, To Wordsworth
Jan. 15 Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1802); Shelley, Preface to Laon and Cythna (xerox)
Jan. 22 Wordsworth, The Ruined Cottage

Shelley, Alastor

Feb. 5 Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey, The Prelude (1805) 6.332-54 and 453-572, 13.1-119
Feb. 12 Shelley, Mt Blanc
Feb. 26 PRESENTATIONS (group project)
Mar. 5 Wordsworth, Intimations Ode (p. 297); Shelley, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty
Mar. 12 Wordsworth, Peter Bell
Mar. 19 Shelley, Peter Bell the Third

Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805) 9.81-293, 10.176-380

Apr. 9 Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

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FURTHER READING (see also my general Romanticism bibliography)


EDITIONS: The Poetical Works (5 vols., 1940-49), for everything but The Prelude; The Prose Works (3 vols., 1974), abridged as Wordsworth's Literary Criticism, ed. W.J.B. Owen (1974); The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth (rev. ed., 8 vols., 1967-93). Many of the poems (including the Lyrical Ballads, Poems in Two Volumes, Peter Bell, and the Preludes) are now available in the meticulously edited (though controversial) Cornell Wordsworth series (1975-). The three versions of The Prelude are printed together in two good paperback editions, both prepared by Jonathan Wordsworth: a Norton Critical Edition (1979) and a Penguin Classic (1996). Numerous first editions of the poetry have been reprinted in facsimile by Woodstock Press.

BIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM: Mary Moorman, William Wordsworth (2 vols., 1957-68), and Stephen Gill, William Wordsworth: A Life (1989), are the standard biographies (the latter more readable, with useful discussion of the poems); Kenneth Johnston, The Hidden Wordsworth (1998), a much-publicized biographical and critical study of the poet's first thirty-five years; Jonathan Bate, Romantic Ecology (1991), on the "green" Wordsworth; Alan Bewell, Wordsworth and the Enlightenment (1989); S.T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817), esp. chaps. 4, 14, 17, and 22 (the best modern edition is by J. Engell and W.J. Bate in vol. 7 of Coleridge's Collected Works, 1983); Geoffrey Hartman, Wordsworth's Poetry, 1787-1814 (1964), an excellent study of the poet's most productive period, and The Unremarkable Wordsworth (1987), a deconstructive study; Mary Jacobus, Tradition and Experiment in Wordsworth's "Lyrical Ballads" (1976); Herbert Lindenberger, On Wordsworth's "Prelude" (1963), a classic study; John Jones, The Egotistical Sublime (1954); Paul Magnuson, Coleridge and Wordsworth: A Lyrical Dialogue (1988); Alan Liu, Wordsworth: The Sense of History (1989), an influential historicist study; Lucy Newlyn, "Paradise Lost" and the Romantic Reader (1993); David Perkins, The Quest for Permanence (1959); Nicholas Roe, Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years (1988), an account of their political involvement in the 1790s; Susan Wolfson, The Questioning Presence: Wordsworth, Keats, and the Interrogative Mode in Romantic Poetry (1986); Jonathan Wordsworth, The Borders of Vision (1982). Dorothy Wordsworth's Journals, ed. E. de Selincourt (2 vols., 1941), contain valuable biographical information, while Duncan Wu's Wordsworth's Reading (2 vols. 1993-95), documents WW's reading up to 1815. Wordsworth: Contemporary Critical Essays, ed. J. Williams (1993), collects nine recent representative essays.

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EDITIONS: Shelley's Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical Edition, 1977; revised edition forthcoming, 2001), not just the class text but the best one-volume edition available; The Letters, ed. F. Jones (2 vols., 1964), includes an appendix listing PBS's reading (but a more reliable list appears in The Journals of Mary Shelley, ed. P. Feldman and D. Scott-Kilvert [2 vols., 1987]). New editions in progress: the Longman annotated Poems, ed. G.M. Matthews and K. Everest (vol. 1, 1989; vol. 2, 2000); and the Oxford Prose Works, ed. E.B. Murray (vol. 1, 1993). The numerous and various documents in the Pforzheimer Collection of Shelleyana (including vegetarian recipes) are being published in the well-edited Shelley and His Circle (8 vols. to date, 1961-), and Oxford's collection of MSS by both Shelleys are being reproduced photographically in The Bodleian Shelley Manuscripts, gen. ed. D. Reiman (23 vols., 1986-). A long-awaited critical edition, The Complete Poems, ed. D. Reiman and N. Fraistat, has begun to appear (vol. 1, 2000); it will supersede all earlier editions of the poetry.

BIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM: Kenneth Neill Cameron, Young Shelley: Genesis of a Radical (1950), and Shelley: The Golden Years (1974), two excellent studies, together covering the whole of PBS's life and works and emphasizing his political thought; Richard Holmes, Shelley: The Pursuit (1974; reissued 1994), a lively biography; William St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys (1989); W. Kim Blank, Wordsworth's Influence on Shelley (1988); Harold Bloom, Shelley's Mythmaking (1959); Nathaniel Brown, Sexuality and Feminism in Shelley (1979); Stuart Curran, Shelley's "Cenci": Scorpions Ringed with Fire (1970) and Shelley's Annus Mirabilis: The Maturing of an Epic Vision (1975); P.M.S. Dawson, The Unacknowledged Legislator: Shelley and Politics (1990); Paul de Man, The Rhetoric of Romanticism (1984), an influential deconstructive study; T.A. Hoagwood, Skepticism and Ideology: Shelley's Political Prose and Its Context from Bacon to Marx (1988); William Keach, Shelley's Style (1985); Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East (1992); Anne Mellor, Romanticism and Gender (1993); Timothy Morton, Shelley and the Revolution in Taste (1994), on PBS's vegetarianism; David Perkins (see above); Donald Reiman, Percy Bysshe Shelley (1969; rev. ed., 1988), a good brief introduction; Stuart Sperry, Shelley's Major Verse (1988); Earl Wasserman, Shelley: A Critical Reading (1971), an exhaustive study of the poetry; Timothy Webb, Shelley: A Voice Not Understood (1977), an excellent general study, and The Violet and the Crucible: Shelley and Translation (1976); Carl Woodring, Politics in English Romantic Poetry (1970); W.B. Yeats, "The Philosophy of Shelley's Poetry", in Essays and Introductions (1961). Shelley: Poet and Legislator of the World, ed. B.T. Bennett and S. Curran (1995), is an important collection of essays by divers hands. Contemporary reviews of PBS are gathered in Shelley: The Critical Heritage, ed. J. Barcus (1975).

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