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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines the compositional history of ‘The Recluse’ and attempts to imagine what this ambitious work, if completed on schedule in 1799, might have argued. Noting that by the time of the publication of The Excursion, the ideal form of the project supposes a four-part structure (of which The Prelude is Part 1, and The Excursion Part 3) the essay considers what contribution ‘Home at Grasmere’, ‘The Tuft of Primroses’ and other supposed ‘poems for The Recluse’ make towards realising the agenda propounded in the ‘Prospectus’. The chapter proposes that Wordsworth may have relinquished any serious ambition of completing either of the missing parts, as early as 1814. While Coleridge complained that The Convention of Cintra seemed like a ‘self-borrowing from some borrowing from some great philosophical poem’, neither poet seems to have grasped that the project as outlined in its ‘Prospectus’ came closest to realization in its Prelude.

Keywords: The Recluse, millenarianism, nature philosophy, stoicism, Home at Grasmere, The Prospectus, Tuft of Primroses, Basil of Caesarea, Nab Well.

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