William Wordsworth, The Idiot Boy

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Wordsworth’s ballad “The Idiot Boy” (1798) and the other poems that he and Samuel Taylor Coleridge included in

Lyrical Ballads

(1798) have probably suffered from conventional tributes to their revolutionary quality. Such praise encourages us to disregard their genuine strangeness as the product of eccentricity or inexplicable inspiration. Yet scholars such as Mary Jacobus and Stephen Parrish demonstrated long ago that Wordsworth and Coleridge were heavily indebted to their surrounding literary culture. “The Idiot Boy”, then, needs to be studied through its intersection with literature and attitudes of Wordsworth’s time before judging whether it really was unusual—whether he was justified in predicting in his 1798 “Advertisement” to

Lyrical Ballads

that “Readers [of…

5388 words

Citation: King, Joshua. "The Idiot Boy". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 March 2012 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=33517, accessed 15 April 2024.]

33517 The Idiot Boy 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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