The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850: Authoritative Texts, Context and Reception, Recent Critical Essays
There are no fewer than seventeen manuscripts of The Prelude in theWordsworth library at Grasmere. Working with these materials, theeditors have prepared an accurate reading version of 1799 and havenewly edited from manuscripts the texts of 1805 and 1850—thus freeingthe latter poem from the unwarranted alterations made by Wordsworth'sliterary executors. The editors also provide a text of MS. JJ(Wordsworth's earliest drafts for parts of The Prelude) as well astranscriptions of other important passages in manuscript whichWordsworth failed to include in any fair copy of his poem. The textsare fully annotated, and the notes for all three versions of ThePrelude are arranged so that each version may be read independently.The editors provide a concise history of the texts and describe theprinciples by which each has been transcribed from the manuscripts.
There are many other aids for a thorough study of The Prelude and itsbackground. A chronological table enables the reader to contextualizethe biographical and historical allusions in the texts and footnotes.
"References to The Prelude in Process" presents the relevant allusions tothe poem, by Wordsworth and by members of his circle, from 1799 to1850. Another section, "Early Reception," reprints significant commentson the published version of 1850 by readers and reviewers.
Finally, there are seven critical essays by Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H.Abrams, Geoffrey H. Hartman, Richard J. Onorato, William Empson,Herbert Lindenberger, and W. B. Gallie.