Summer 1954 • Vol. XVI No. 3 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1954 |

The Prelude Sans Coleridge

Wordsworth's Prelude: A Study of Its Literary Form by Abbie Findlay Potts. Cornell Univ. Press. $6.00. Professor Potts has entitled her work a study of literary form. It is in fact somewhat more than this since she has made a very careful study of Wordsworth's early reading, skillfully detecting and interpreting the way in which one poet absorbs, echoes or transforms the work of another. She has, however, prefaced her study with an interesting exercise in literary definition, where she looks for the essence or "quiddity" of Wordsworth's masterpiece. Here, Miss Potts wisely reminds us that The Prelude stands alone as a poem, a story, and an argument. Thus it does not very readily submit to the stricter categorizing of a Polonius or, for that matter, to the classifications of Wordsworth himself, if we consider the categories set forth in the Preface of 1815. The Prelude, like that "incomparable cloud" indicated by Hamlet, will tolerate a goodly number of descriptive predicates, no

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