The literary sources of William Wordsworth's works, 10 July 1793 to 10 June 1797

Kelley, Robert Paul

Wordsworth, William,1770-1850; Literature
September 1987

Thesis or dissertation

© 1987 Robert Paul Kelley. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Wordsworth's works between his departure from London on 10 July 1793 and the visit by Coleridge on 10 June 1797 are key documents in any discussion of the development of his poetry as they span the transition from Descriptive Sketches to Lyrical Ballads. Despite the key critical question of
the originality of Lyrical Ballads, no exhaustive examination of Wordsworth's use of literary sources during this period has yet been undertaken.

In this thesis a pattern of sources for each poem written during the period 1793-1797 is established, especially Wordsworth's developing use of his own verse as a source. There are many literary sources that had not previously been discovered, and this necessitated a reassessment of the role of sources in Wordsworth's poetry generally. In particular, the importance of certain eighteenth-century authors and ideologies had been underrated as influences on Wordsworth's poetry.

An overview of Wordsworth's use of his sources shows significant changes during the period. In earlier poems they were incorporated into his poetry with little modification, but in later poems they were often radically transformed and complexly assimilated. Literary sources played a key role in the development of Wordsworth's works, critical theories, and world view. Finally, a brief examination of passages from The Prelude confirms the view that the importance of literary sources in Wordsworth's changing poetry and the workings of his poetic imagination was not confined to the period 1793-7.

Department of English, The University of Hull
Michie, James; Chapple, J. A. V. (John Alfred Victor),1928-
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