Lyrical Ballads

Lyrical Ballads


Description: FIRST COMPLETE EDITION (comprising the second edition of the first volume, and the first edition, first issue of the second volume). The preferred edition, for the second edition of the first volume contains the first printing of Wordsworth's famous Preface, "the revolutionary manifesto of the romantic poets of the next generation" and perhaps the most influential work of literary theory in the English language (Printing and the Mind of Man 256). "To the first edition of Lyrical Ballads, published jointly with Coleridge in 1798, Wordsworth prefixed an 'Advertisement' which asserted that the major number of the poems were 'to be considered as experiments' to determine 'how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure.' In the second, two-volume edition of 1800, Wordsworth... expanded the Advertisement into a Preface which justified the new poetry not as experiments, but as exemplifying the principles of all good poetry... The Preface deserves its reputation as a revolutionary manifesto about the nature of poetry... [It serves] not only as a turning point in English criticism but also as a central document in modern culture" (Norton Anthology of English Literature). In addition to the first appearance of the Preface, the second edition contains all the poems in the first edition plus one additional poem in the first volume, and the first printing of the forty-one new poems in the second volume. The poems in Lyrical Ballads proved to be extraordinarily influential, for "no other book of poems in English so plainly announces a new literary departure" (Norton). Lyrical Ballads includes some of the most famous poems in the English language: in the the first volume appears Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", "The Foster-Mother's Tale", "The Nightingale", "The Dungeon", and Wordsworth's "Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey", "The Thorn", "The Idiot Boy", "Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman", and "Lines written in early spring"; the second volume added many of Wordsworth's most characteristic works such as the "Lucy Poems", "The Old Cumberland Beggar", "Michael, a Pastoral", and others. London: T. N. Longman and O. Rees, 1800. Small octavo, contemporary full calf with original red and green morocco labels. Two volumes. Housed in custom half-leather box. Evidence of bookplates removed on pastedowns. Light spotting to five leaves in volume two, otherwise text exceptionally clean; a few skillful repairs to bindings, minor surface imperfection (noticeable only up-close, at an angle) to board of volume II. A rare copy in handsome contemporary calf of one of the most important books in English literature.
Artist or Maker: Wordsworth, William; Coleridge, Samuel Taylor
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