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Spectator Books: when Coleridge met Wordsworth

7 August 2019

1:26 PM

7 August 2019

1:26 PM

In this week’s books podcast, we’re getting Romantic. I’m joined by the writer Adam Nicolson and the artist Tom Hammick to talk about their new book The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, Wordsworth and their Year of Marvels. In it, Adam describes how — inspired by Richard Holmes’s ‘footsteps’ approach — he attempted to imaginatively inhabit the worlds of Coleridge and Wordsworth in the crucial year in the late 1790s when they lived near each-other in the Quantocks in Somerset. That meant, for him, living in the same landscape, walking the same paths, reliving the struggles with lines of verse in manuscript. It’s a passionate attempt to fully understand the relationship between the two, and the influences that had their issue in Lyrical Ballads, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Kubla Khan’ and the ‘Prelude’. The book also contains the woodcuts Tom made from fallen trees where they lived, and which form a complex commentary on Adam’s text and on the texts it traces. I ask them to expound on such highbrow issues as: who was the Daddy? Wasn’t Wordsworth a bit of a rotter? And: what about Dot?


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