Over a dramatic six-month period in 1802, William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, Wordsworth's sister Dorothy, and the two Hutchinson sisters, Sara and Mary, formed a close-knit group whose members saw or wrote one another constantly. In this fascinating book, Worthen recreates the group's intertwined lives and the effect they had on one another. 20 ...
Over a dramatic six-month period in 1802, William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, Wordsworth's sister Dorothy, and the two Hutchinson sisters, Sara and Mary, formed a close-knit group whose members saw or wrote one another constantly. In this fascinating book, Worthen recreates the group's intertwined lives and the effect they had on one another. 20 illustrations.
Fine in fine dust jacket. 344 p. Includes: illustrations, index. B&W illustrations; heavily annotated
Publishers Weekly, 2001-02-26 "What would a biography be like which managed to include everything surviving a life? Every document, letter and journal entry?" University of Nottingham professor Worthem asks at the outset of his "group biography" of the poets S.T. Coleridge and William Wordsworth, William's sister Dorothy, and their friends Mary and Sara Hutchinson. And he answers the question, for this biography may not consist solely of intimate details drawn from letters and diaries, but those details suffocate much of the text. Worthen argues that during a six-month period in 1802 a time of intense written and oral communication among the members of "the gang" the two poets created some of their most extraordinary and celebrated work, such as Coleridge's "Dejection: An Ode" and Wordsworth's "Immortality Ode." In part I, tackling both public and private issues such as the mystery of nature, the importance of children and the meaning of friendship that inspired certain poems and even particular stanzas and lines, Worthen thoroughly defends a valid argument about the relation between an artist's daily life and his work, but he fails to arouse his reader's interest in each of the three families' circumstances, laden as the section is with pedestrian detail ("On the last day of February... Dorothy had started a letter to Sara Hutchinson; on 1 March she would finish it, write a letter to Mary Hutchinson, and start another letter to Sara"). In parts II and III, the author accomplishes his goal to write a group biography that gives all its figures an equal amount of authority. In these eventful six months, Wordsworth marries Mary Hutchinson, and Coleridge falls in love with her sister, Sara, neglecting his wife and children. Despite the excess detail, Worthen does a fine job balancing the personal with the critical and offers those who idolize one or both of the poets much to consider. 20 illus. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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