英文学研究
Online ISSN : 2424-2136
Print ISSN : 0039-3649
ISSN-L : 0039-3649
THE 'PREFACE' TO LYRICAL BALLADSの社会史的背景
磯田 光一
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ジャーナル フリー

1961 年 38 巻 1 号 p. 63-79

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Wordsworth's 'Preface' has been usually considered as the first manifestation of the Romantic innovation of poetry against the eighteenth century classicism. But the historical position of the 'Preface' is, it seems, a more complicated one. At least, from the socio-historical point of view, the 'Preface' has two factors in it-the one, natural, organic and traditional; the other, individualistic, mechanic and modern. The former is shown in Wordsworth's sympathy with the communal life of the rural society; and the latter, in his identification of verse with prose and his insistence on the individualistic self-expression. Then, what is the historical source of the two? The eighteenth century has been often called the "Age of Reason." This is probably true as to the industrial and commercial cities in England. But, as for the country district, we know, there was no readiness to accept the Newtonian and the Lockian doctrines. There still remained the traditional 'ethos,' and it is this that fostered Wordsworth's mind. The prototype of the Wordsworthian ideal society was the traditional rural community, which he later called in his Guide to the Lakes "a perfect Republic of Shepherds and Agriculturists." Wordsworth's strong sympathy with the French Revolution was, it seems, much owing to his belief in the "perfect Republic of Shepherds and Agriculturists," which he believed to be re-built by the revoltuion. Therefore it was the matter of course that, through his disappointment in the revolution, Wordsworth was getting more and more aware of his love for the innocence of the rustic people. Lyrical Ballads was no doubt the best monument of Wordsworth's rural vision; and the 'Preface,' its best commentary. The second point of ours is the individualistic and modern factors in the 'Preface.' These elements in Wordsworth's works are, it seems, inseparable from the structure of the poet's imaginative mind. The opinion that Wordsworth's visualization of Nature is the result of his intimacy with her is somewhat questionable; for biographically we know he wrote very conventional poems in his boyhood and early youth. The Prelude tells us that his visualization of Nature started with his consciousness of separation from Nature. Wordsworth, who was educated at Cambridge, was not a natural man but an extremely self-conscious poet. Even Lyrical Ballads, therefore, must be considered as a product, not of a natural and innocent mind, but of extremely self-conscious one; and this paradoxical principle of creation is, more or less, applicable to all the Romantic poetry. The Romantic Movement is in all respects a Romantic 'Revival.' The poet, who consciously wished to be romantic, had no romantic mind at all but a morbid soul possessed of the modern intellect. The duality of the 'Preface' is nothing but a sign of the paradoxical character of the romatic isolation.

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© 1961 一般財団法人 日本英文学会
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