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Wordsworth, Social Reform Literature, and Politics of the 1790s Writer

Project id 1009851
Subject area Writing
Document type Essay
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Wordsworth, Social Reform Literature, and Politics of the 1790s The historic mixture of social fictions in England and France towards the end of the 1780s greatly impacted the literature of the period. Tom Paine's The Rights of Man (1791) and Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1791) were the two most widely read works that spurred a decade long debate on how the state of England was to be governed and by whom. As a young man during this period, William Wordsworth formed a part of the circle of authors that fought for the Republican cause of democracy and its ideals. Like the poet William Cowper, Wordsworth's early poetry led to a larger frame of social reform literature that the publisher Joseph Johnson promoted throughout his career from the late 1770s until his death in 1809. A number of Wordsworth's early prose works indicate what he was to later reflect upon in his poem, "Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, 13 July 1798". "Tintern Abbey" reminds Wordsworth's readers of their solitude and "sad perplexity" (61) which its author experiences five years after his fantasies of a democratic republic and adore for Annette Vallon are dashed by France's Reign of Terror and war with England. He recounts: Five years have passed five summers, with the length Of five long winters! .... . So I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was once I bounded o'er these hills,... Flying from something he dreads than one Who sought the thing he loved. (1-2, 66-67, 72-73)[1] "Tintern" indicates Wordsworth's desire to move past the sentiments and views he once held, as represented in his unpublishe...

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