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date: 11 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Books nine and ten of Wordsworth’s thirteen book Prelude (1805) focus on the poet’s visits to revolutionary France in 1790 and 1791–2 and on his conflicted response to Britain’s entry into the war against France in 1793. This essay reads the representation of history in the Prelude as an aspect of the poet’s fascination with revolutionary violence and biblical apocalypse. In addition to considering key critical responses to Wordsworth’s treatment of history (e.g. Gill, Gravil, Johnston and Liu), the essay considers the poem’s investment in classical literature and myth. In conclusion, the essay argues that the poem’s claims to narrative consistency are baffled by the return of historical ‘contrarieties’ (Prelude, book ten, l. 899) and, in particular, by the exigencies of war.

Keywords: Wordsworth, Romanticism, Prelude, Recluse, history, French Revolution, war

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