Some contexts for William Wordsworth's 'Recluse, 1770-1798' : education, politics and literature
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The principal aim of this thesis is to illuminate some prefigurations of The Recluse from January 1793 (the publication of An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches) to early March 1798 (the first announcement of The Recluse in his letters). Three chapters and an appendix assert the importance of this period for Wordsworth's ideas of Nature, Man, and Society in referring to the social, political, and literary background 1770 -1798, and in particular to the influence of less well-known figures - John Langhorne, John Thelwall, and James Losh. Chapter One focuses on debate about the social utility of education in the explicitly radical milieux of the early 1790s, and suggests that educational interests provided Wordsworth, Thelwall, and Coleridge with a coherent frame into which the Recluse scheme would fit. Chapter Two explores similarities in Langhorne's, Thelwall's, and Wordsworth's ideas of Nature, Man, and Society, in particular in their treatment of the poor, and relates these contexts to The Recluse. Chapter Three and my Appendix suggest broad similarities between The Recluse and The Œconomist magazine, in which Wordsworth showed a keen interest in his letter to Losh of 11 March 1798. The thesis concludes by suggesting that the first announcement in early March 1798 of the 'utility' of The Recluse was retrospective - an expression of hopes, ideals, and more practical purposes that Wordsworth had perhaps already outgrown.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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