The Prelude, William Wordsworth’s masterful autobiographical work, composed in blank verse, is generally considered the poem at the heart of the Romantic movement and one of the great poems in the English language. In this fully illustrated and annotated edition, it finally receives the treatment it deserves. Inspired by his dear friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poem charts the development of the author’s mind, from childhood to Cambridge, London, the Alps, and France, touching on subjects ranging from leisure to literature, nature to imagination, and everything in between. A meditation on the self, this work still stands as a masterpiece of English literature, and is here complemented and enhanced by 200 contemporary color plates that both illuminate and elucidate the text. Scrupulously selected and edited from the definitive manuscripts in existence, the marginal notes and glosses provide an extra touch that makes this a truly enlightening reading experience.
Meanwhile, my hope has been that I might fetch
Invigorating thoughts from former years,
Might fix the wavering balance of my mind,
And haply meet reproaches, too, whose power
May spur me on, in manhood now mature,
To honourable toil.
A marvelous book — the great poem magnificently illustrated with 130 full-color paintings, drawing, maps and other visual aids contemporaneous with its writing.
—Lloyd Schwartz, WBUR & NPR’s The ARTery
The Prelude is the greatest and most original of English autobiographies.
—Sir Frank Kermode
Regarded as Wordsworth’s masterpiece, and one of the great long poems in English literature . . .
It was therefore with startled joy that I encountered the glorious new edition of The Prelude by my Harvard colleague James Engell, working in collaboration with the independent scholar Michael D. Raymond (who sought out the invaluable illustrations). Handsomely produced by David Godine in a broad horizontal format (twelve by nine and a half inches), the volume is illustrated on almost every other page by paintings or drawings contemporaneous with the poem itself.
These offer to the American reader’s eye an array of scenes indispensable to an understanding of Wordsworth’s world—lakes, crags, nocturnes, ships at sea, the Alps, Stonehenge, Revolutionary France, Cambridge, London. At last—with Engell’s eloquent and succinct introduction, helpful marginal glosses, notes, a chronology, and maps—American readers and students have a Prelude of their own.
—Helen Vendler, The New York Review of Books
Set in a handsome, hardbound edition that equally fits in a coffee table display or upon a scholar s desk, this new edition is appropriate for the amateur and expert alike…There are no faults to be had with this book. It is aesthetically pleasing, intellectually rigorous, and completely satisfying.
—The News and Times