Central to the creative process of the Romantic poets that followed him, Wordsworth's Preface to the Lyrical Ballads has been both a gift and a thorn in the side of critics for over a century. Readers find themselves drawn back to the essay repeatedly as they seek to untangle the ideas and contradictions within it. The Preface is a statement of Wordsworth's poetic vision and offers an explanation of the poetic process behind the poems, which fused the rusticity of the ballad form with the psychological introspection of modernity.
But to the generation of Romantic writers that emerged in its wake, the Preface announced a new understanding of the creative process and of the high purposes of poetry: to reveal the human condition, and to awaken in its readers the profoundest emotions and the most enduring truths of existence.
Dr. Alex Latter completed his PhD at the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre at Birkbeck, University of London, where his thesis looked at postwar British poetry. He is the author of Late Modernism and The English Intelligencer: On the Poetics of Community (2015). Rachel Teubner is a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia. She teaches courses in Christian thought and in religion and literature, and is the author of A Macat Analysis of T.S. Eliot's The Sacred Wood (Routledge, 2014).
Ways in to the text Who was William Wordsworth? What does Preface to the Lyrical Ballads say? Why does Preface to the Lyrical Ballads matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited