The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge

Adam Sisman, Author . Viking $25.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-670-03822-0

The close (but ill-fated) friendship between William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously spawned England's Romantic revolution in poetry. Although the men barely meet until almost halfway into this narrative, Sisman (who won a National Book Critics Circle award for Boswell's Presumptuous Task ) provides an extensive background to their relationship, delineating in particular the political landscape that so influenced both men's thinking. The book opens with Wordsworth's travels through revolutionary France and his growing intimacy with his sister, Dorothy. But as soon as the charismatic Coleridge enters the scene in 1797, Wordsworth recedes—perhaps because, as a reluctant letter writer, he left fewer resources for Sisman to draw on. Still, Sisman elegantly weaves the two men's stories together. Knowing how people tend to justify their own actions, Sisman is appropriately skeptical of their own accounts of their lives, using them to propose the most likely scenarios rather than as hard fact. Though lengthy, this book engages the reader's attention, freely mixing larger questions of politics with gossip, which helps bring to life figures long reified in the public imagination. At times there is too much detail, which doesn't enhance an already overloaded story explored extensively elsewhere. But Sisman does open up to the general reader the personal interactions that led to the birth of Romanticism. 16 pages of photos. (Feb. 19)

Reviewed on: 11/20/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-00-716053-2
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-1-4295-5932-4
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 512 pages - 978-1-4295-5933-1
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-0-00-716052-5
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-14-311296-9
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-1-101-20201-2
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