Author(s): William Wordsworth
There are no fewer than seventeen manuscripts of The Prelude in the Wordsworth library at Grasmere. Working with these materials, the editors have prepared an accurate reading version of 1799 and have newly edited from manuscripts the texts of 1805 and 1850-thus freeing the latter poem from the unwarranted alterations made by Wordsworth's literary executors. The editors also provide a text of MS. JJ (Wordsworth's earliest drafts for parts of The Prelude) as well as transcriptions of other important passages in manuscript which Wordsworth failed to include in any fair copy of his poem. The texts are fully annotated, and the notes for all three versions of The Prelude are arranged so that each version may be read independently. The editors provide a concise history of the texts and describe the principles by which each has been transcribed from the manuscripts. There are many other aids for a thorough study of The Prelude and its background. A chronological table enables the reader to contextualize the biographical and historical allusions in the texts and footnotes. "References to The Prelude in Process" presents the relevant allusions to the poem, by Wordsworth and by members of his circle, from 1799 to 1850. Another section, "Early Reception," reprints significant comments on the published version of 1850 by readers and reviewers. Finally, there are seven critical essays by Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams, Geoffrey H. Hartman, Richard J. Onorato, William Empson, Herbert Lindenberger, and W. B. Gallie.
M. H. Abrams (1912-2015) was Class of 1916 Professor of English, Emeritus at Cornell University. He received the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Prize for The Mirror and the Lamp and the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize for Natural Supernaturalism. He is also the author of The Milk of Paradise, A Glossary of Literary Terms, The Correspondent Breeze, and Doing Things with Texts. He is the recipient of Guggenheim, Ford Foundation, and Rockefeller Postwar fellowships, the Award in Humanistic Studies from the Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984), the Distinguished Scholar Award by the Keats-Shelley Society (1987), and the Award for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1990). In 1999 The Mirror and the Lamp was ranked twenty-fifth among the Modern Library's "100 best nonfiction books written in English during the twentieth century." Stephen Gill is Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Lincoln College, Oxford. He holds an M.A. and a B. Phil. from Exeter College and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh and has taught at Edinburgh and at Cornell. He has edited the volume on The Salisbury Plain Poems for the Cornell Wordsworth series. Jonathan Wordsworth was a Fellow of Saint Catherine's College, Oxford, and Faculty Lecturer in Romanticism in the English Faculty, Oxford University. He was also Chairman of the Trustees of Dove Cottage, Grasmere (the Wordsworth Archive). The author of The Music of Humanity and William Wordsworth, The Borders of Vision, and editor of Bicentenary Wordsworth Studies, he was at work on several other Wordsworth editions and studies.