“EMOTION RECOLLECTED IN TRANQUILITY”: THE IMPORTANT LYRICAL BALLADS, ONE OF ONLY 500 COPIES, WITH WORDSWORTH’S FAMOUS PREFACE—MANIFESTO OF THE ROMANTICS
WORDSWORTH, William and COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor. Lyrical Ballads, with Other Poems. London: T.N. Longman and O. Rees, 1800. Two volumes. Small octavo, early 20th-century full dark green crushed morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. Housed together in a custom slipcase.
First complete edition of this touchstone of English Romanticism, containing the first appearance of Wordsworth’s landmark Preface, defining his revolutionary theory of poetry—“his revolt against 18th-century artificiality” (PMM). Handsomely bound in full morocco-gilt by Wood.
In the 1798 one-volume first edition of Lyrical Ballads the poets rejected the classical principles of beauty and formal style, choosing instead to elevate the lives of ordinary men and women, and to write in the language of ordinary people. Amazingly, that edition was such a financial disaster that Longman, upon purchasing the printer’s rights from Joseph Cottle, valued it at “nothing” and sent it back to Wordsworth for revision. This is the complete, two-volume second edition (the preferred edition), containing for the first time Wordsworth’s famous Preface, in which he argues that poetry “takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” It should provide access to the emotions contained in memory, and promote “the worth and dignity of individual man.” Moreover, its first principle should be pleasure— through a rhythmic and beautiful expression of feeling— as all human sympathy is based on a subtle pleasure that is “the naked and native dignity of man.” Wordsworth’s Preface became the revolutionary manifesto of the Romantic poets and is now considered to mark the beginning of the Romantic Movement in English literature. First state of Volume II, with ten lines on page 210, omitting 15 lines of “Michael.” Volume I bound without errata nor leaf of advertisement. PMM 256. Broughton 7. Rothschild 2603. Wise, 6-8. Small dealer description tipped to front free endpaper.
A fine copy.