Wordsworth’s The Prelude: Poetry Through the Means of Philosophy

  • Tanya Lohan University of Delhi
Keywords: Wordsworthian epic, Romanticism, The Prelude, circularity, Kantian philosophy


William Wordsworth’s epic poem The Prelude was not intended by its author to be an epic, rather a precursor to an upcoming work only comparable to Paradise Lost. However, the small self-reflective piece intended for his then friend S.T. Coleridge was expanded over the course of about 40 years. In the poem, Wordsworth proposes to Coleridge and effectively to himself the matter of his intended epic. The Prelude is the germ that translated into The Recluse but in itself it supplanted all other works of his for being deeply philosophical. Wordsworth’s style is elliptical as he hovers around the center of his own psyche, in attempt to understand the subject of his epic i.e. man. This essay proposes that Wordsworth achieves a Copernican turn in likeness to Kant’s philosophy when he makes himself the object of study and through this transposition, the modern human subject is conceived.


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1. Abrams, Meyer Howard, et al. The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850: Authoritative Texts, Context and Reception, Recent Critical Essays. United Kingdom, Norton, 1979.
2. Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things. United Kingdom, Taylor & Francis, 2005.
How to Cite
Lohan, T. “Wordsworth’s The Prelude: Poetry Through the Means of Philosophy”. Contemporary Literary Review India, Vol. 9, no. 2, May 2022, pp. 148-54, https://literaryjournal.in/index.php/clri/article/view/820.
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