Abstract and Keywords
Wordsworth remained compelled by narrative forms such as the ballad and the tale. He often achieved his characteristic effects by playing against conventional narrative expectations, a manoeuvre made possible by his understanding of the conventions he was then revising or rejecting. Later years show a more complex relationship to prevailing tastes. The White Doe of Rylstone draws from Wordsworth’s relationship to the ballad traditions, accentuated by the success of Walter Scott’s Border Minstrelsy and The Lay of the Last Minstrel. Later works show Wordsworth experimenting with Arthurian or Miltonic materials and with romantic tales set in eastern Europe: The Russian Fugitive and The Armenian Lady’s Love. These lightenings of Wordsworth’s style reflect his engagement with the annuals and his attention to the literary marketplace; they need to be read not simply against the ‘Great Decade’ but also laterally against early Tennyson and popular verse of the late 1820s and 1830s.