Saturday, 16 December 2006

A joint biography of Wordsworth and Coleridge is reviewed in The Guardian by Jonathan Bate. Adam Sisman's The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge doesn't quite live up to the reviewer's expectations. But the review provides a very good introduction, in itself, to the Romantic revival that powered through the nineteenth century until World War One knocked it soundly on the scone.

Previous biographers have tended to favour either Wordsworth or Coleridge, so it is Sisman's great achievement to have approached the relationship in an even-handed way; but the reader is left wanting to know more about the dynamic of the wider household and the domestic life of Alfoxden and Dove Cottage, that could offer both inspiration and admonition for the post-nuclear family.

Unfortunately, Bate considers these two worthy writers to have been the first Romantics. Many academics call this flowering of artistry the Romantic Revival, in consideration of the many poets of earlier decades whose work holds the seeds — already sprouting with unquenchable vigour — of a Romantic sensibility.

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