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The story of the legendary friendship between Wordsworth and Coleridge The friendship between William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge produced dazzling results. From it came Lyrical Ballads, the volume that kick-started the Romantic Movement in England. Rarely have two such gifted writers cooperated so closely. They met in 1795 when both were in their early twentieThe story of the legendary friendship between Wordsworth and Coleridge The friendship between William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge produced dazzling results. From it came Lyrical Ballads, the volume that kick-started the Romantic Movement in England. Rarely have two such gifted writers cooperated so closely. They met in 1795 when both were in their early twenties, and in the euphoria of mutual discovery these brilliant and idealistic young men planned a poem that would succeed where the French Revolution failed—a poem that would, quite literally, change the world. In this wonderfully lively and readable account, acclaimed author Adam Sisman explores their passionate and tempestuous bond and the way in which rivalry bred tension between them. Though much has been written about this extraordinary duo, no previous biographer has considered them together. The result offers insights into the rich yet neglected topic of friendship and tantalizing glimpses of the creative process itself....

Title : The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge
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ISBN : 9780670038220
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 512 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge Reviews

  • Margaret
    2019-03-17 11:07

    This is a well-written, well-researched dual biography. Sisman places them in the context of the eventful political and social times and traces the course of their unusually close friendship, showing the poets' relationship not only to each other but also to their other friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Neither poet was wholly admirable (though I ended up liking Coleridge much more than Wordsworth), especially in their relationships with women (good bio of Dorothy, anyone?), but Sisman does a good job presenting a balanced account of their ups and downs, from the height of their closeness to the eventual break-up.

  • Amedeo
    2019-03-09 06:15

    There is more to this book than a consideration of one famous friendship. It succeeds in giving us a look at the idea of friendship as well as how it has been transformed over the last two centuries. There is also much about Wordsworth's relationship with his sister Dorothy, also a friendship of great intensity. We are reminded that one thing that hasn't changed in friendship is how easily it can be shattered by the play of egos. Perhaps Coleridge summed up his with Wordsworth in Christabel: "Never either found another to free the hollow heart from paining."

  • Angela
    2019-02-26 08:20

    Sisman balances both scholarship and story and Wordsworth and Coleridge's lives in a way that allows for an intricate and readable portrait. As someone who knows quite a bit about the lake poets - and has read several biographies recently - I probably enjoyed this book less than it deserves. Overall, its focus on friendship grounds the work and confirmed my feelings that Wordsworth was not a great friend.

  • Tucker
    2019-03-06 06:21

    A biography of the friendship between William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the less well known Robert Southey.The book opens with the French Revolution and its influence on the youthful Coleridge and Southey, who dreamt up a political vision they called Pantisocracy ("rule by all as equals") that involved a communist property system, no slavery, and the equal participation of women. The two men developed romantic interests in two sisters, a pursuit which fed their sense of themselves as brothers. After a few years, however, Southey's interests began to drift toward the practicalities of marriage and away from the communist idealism, to Coleridge's great dismay. When Southey suggested that only a few acres in Wales should be owned communally and everything else should be owned privately, Coleridge wrote, "I locked up my heart from you.""Between ourselves, the Enthusiasm of Friendship is not with S[outhey] & me. We quarrelled – & the quarrel lasted for a twelvemonth – We are now reconciled; but the cause of the Difference was solemn – & 'the blasted oak puts not forth its buds anew' – we are acquaintances – & feel kindliness towards each other; but I do not esteem, or LOVE Southey, as I must esteem & love the man whom I dared call by the holy name of FRIEND!" (p. 150, citing Samuel Taylor Coleridge to J Thelwall, 31 December 1796; Collected Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. E. L. Griggs, (Oxford, 1956-71), 6 vols, 1, 294.)In 1801 Coleridge and Southey were excited to reunite. Coleridge wrote that their old dreams "may be auguries of something really noble which we may yet perform together," and Southey wrote "Time & absence make strange work with our affections; but mine are ever returning to rest upon you. I have other & dear friends, but none with whom the whole of my being is intimate – with whom every thought & feeling can amalgamate." After they spent time together, however, Coleridge admitted in a subsequent letter to Southey that he did not so much "enjoy your society" after all. (p. 336)Entering his thirties, Coleridge was an opium addict and alcoholic, fat and prematurely aging. Southey reported that he "does nothing which he ought to do, and every thing which he ought not." (p. 383) Coleridge also felt himself to be in creative and literary decline – he lionized the truth and beauty of the poetry of his friend Wordsworth and ended up trying to mimic his writing. Once again, Coleridge found himself and a male friend interested in a pair of sisters. And Coleridge and Wordsworth, too, had their interpersonal difficulties."Years later, Coleridge scribbled on a printed version of the poem that this had been written before he had ever seen Wordsworth, and then added bitterly in Latin, 'and would that I had known only his works.'"p. 114. Citing: Robert Woof, "Wordsworth and Coleridge: Some Early Matters" in Jonathan Wordsworth (ed.): Bicentenary Wordsworth Studies(1970), 83-7.In his forties and fifties, Coleridge did not see much of Wordsworth, either, and Coleridge died at 61, fondly remembered by Wordsworth.Wordsworth wrote poems about Coleridge including the Two Book Prelude ("For thou hast sought / The truth in solitude, and thou art one / The most intense of Nature's worshippers, / In many things my brother, chiefly here / In this my deep devotion.") and "A Complaint" ("Now, for that consecrated fount / Of murmuring, sparkling, living love, / What have I? shall I dare to tell? / A comfortless and hidden well.")

  • Jaylia3
    2019-02-21 09:04

    During the early, idyllic stage of their friendship Wordsworth and Coleridge spent long days wandering around in the natural beauty of the English countryside deep in discussion. Talking for miles and miles they covered philosophy and the nature and purpose of poetry, then interrupted those thoughts to make note of some particular aspect of their surroundings—images of flowers, leaves, light or clouds that they used to turn their philosophical insights into poetry. Accompanying them was Dorothy, Wordsworth’s lively, devoted sister who was something of a writer herself. The three of them spent days and weeks almost continually in each other’s company. Wordsworth and his sister moved across the country just so they could live within walking distance of Coleridge, and even then they often slept over in each other’s homes talking deep into the night. There was no rivalry or reserve. As Coleridge explained it they were “three people but one soul.”Later things went out of balance. Coleridge’s abundant praise of Wordsworth’s brilliance seemed to sap his own ability to write. Compounding this was his growing addiction to opium, which was considered a medicinal not a dangerous drug. The dazzling energy, intelligence and perception of Coleridge’s conversation amazed people, but he went years without composing much of anything. Wordsworth continued to write, but his life became weighted down with family responsibilities. Coleridge, who had a spectacularly unhappy marriage, felt that the adoration of Wordsworth’s wife, his wife’s sister and Dorothy put blinders on Wordsworth’s eyes and kept him from achieving his full measure of greatness. The Recluse, the lengthy philosophical poem Coleridge imagined for Wordsworth, was never finished. Wordsworth attempted parts of it and sought Coleridge’s guidance for the rest, but a falling out kept them apart and by the time Coleridge did write down his thoughts for Wordsworth it was long past the time when Wordsworth could take up such an all-consuming project. Neither man completed the poems they felt were their life works and they never were as close again.The sadness of this was mitigated for me by the fact that late in their lives they took one more long ramble together. They toured Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands with Wordsworth’s daughter Dorothy, who was named after her aunt but called Dora to avoid confusion. They no longer were “one soul” and they irritated each other sometimes, but still Dora was able to report that the three of them got along “delightfully.” This book begins with the early lives of Coleridge and Wordsworth, before they meet, including the time of the French Revolution whose ideals influenced both men, and it continues until Coleridge’s death in 1834 at the age of sixty one. The portraits of the poets seem balanced, each is presented as both talented and flawed, and I found the book fascinating and moving.

  • David
    2019-02-28 04:07

    Full disclosure - I pretty much skimmed this book. But then, coming in at well over 400 pages, it's clearly written for true W and C fans, a group which doesn't include me. I just picked it up on a whim because it was marked down and I have little or no impulse control where books are concerned. In the general scheme of things, my level of interest in Coleridge and Wordsworth is doomed to remain at a fairly modest threshold. But this is certainly not Adam Sisman's fault - this is a decently written, reasonably engaging account of the relationship between C and W. The level of detail certainly suggests Sisman has done his homework - it's to his credit that he writes like a human being and not an academic.Well, OK. I'll admit that I did have one ulterior motive when I bought this book. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I got the basics of Wordsworth's biographical details down, it might just possibly help me overcome my complete aversion to his poetry. It didn't. I still think he's a whiny, tree-hugging, milquetoast whose work manages to be both uninspired and uninspiring. Finding out that he was also apparently an insufferable, pompous jerk doesn't rehabilitate him. I'm more than willing to be educated otherwise, but for now I'd have to say that Coleridge was the giant in this particular relationship, both in terms of talent and generosity of spirit. I'd choose a session in the opium den with Coleridge and DeQuincey over tea with the Wordsworths any day.

  • Peter
    2019-03-21 11:18

    This book was my companion for the better part of six months, perhaps longer. It became clear early on that Sisman’s prose was thoroughgoing, providing plenty of context for Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s relationship. I was going to have to take it in small doses, as one might (one might, though not Coleridge unfortunately) a tincture of opium. A fitting style, the thoroughgoingness, given the staggering amount of source material and anecdotal baggage that accompanies these gentle giants of Romantic poetry who thought nothing of walking 40 miles (!) in a day.My envy of those who knew Coleridge while he was still bright-eyed only increased as I neared the end; all firsthand accounts, even from those who didn’t like the man, did not disparage his genius, especially as a conversationalist. And of course there is never enough Dorothy, William’s sister, without whom it's likely none of this would have happened.

  • Nicole Kapise-Perkins
    2019-03-03 08:53

    It feels like this book took me forever to get through. I am glad I made myself finish it, as I was unaware of the circumstances leading up to Coleridge and Wordsworth's split. I knew they had been close friends and collaborators on much of their planning and some works, and then they weren't. It is so sad that they ended the way that they did; how much more brilliance would have been bestowed on this world had they remained close?

  • Laura
    2019-03-07 08:59

    Although I am not much of a poetry reader, and the only poem of Wordsworth I really know is the one about the daffodils, I am a lover of history and I enjoyed this dual biography of the two men and their inspiring (to each) friendship -- a friendship that came at great cost one of them.Adam Sisman is a very good writer and brings to life this nineteenth-century friendship, and the emotions and relationships (and letter writing!) of the times.

  • Mark Bruce
    2019-03-21 08:51

    Interesting examination of the friendship between two seminal English poets. Wordsworth, who later became somewhat conservative, was a firebrand in his youth who supported the French Revolution despite societal disapproval. Coleridge was mercurial, somewhat unreliable, and a drug addict. Still, these two had a very close relationship, even publishing a book of poetry together.The author has done his research. Further, his prose is clear and lucid. Recommended.

  • Mark
    2019-03-23 08:03

    Oustanding dual biography of the two legendary poets. Both are presented in context, and both are depicted (in their own words, and each other's) warts and all. Modern poetry had its birth in "Lyrical Ballads" and here we get the backstory to it all. Sisman is a capable nonfiction writer, though his prose doesn't sparkle nearly as much as his subjects' verse does. Oh well. Still recommended.

  • Mary Buford
    2019-03-15 09:21

    While I liked this book, I wish it had included more about the effect on their wives and children brought about by the two poets' intense and unusual friendship and then their parting of ways. Perhaps the historical records don't provide for this, but it would have vastly enriched the story, I believe.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-16 07:07

    I enjoyed this, particularly the early years for both writers which created a much clearer context for understanding their lives than I'd had previously. Treating the two together made it less intense and detailed than a traditional biography, the development of their friendship being the focus, and I found it very readable.

  • Colin
    2019-02-23 06:07

    A biography of the relationship between Wordsworth and Coleridge, two poets I quiet enjoy, this book made for dry reading at times but was nevertheless quite educational. I'm not sure that I would have found it quite so intriguing were I not a fan of the two poets, especially Wordsworth. Certainly the book seems well-researched and appropriately scholarly.

  • David Anthony Sam
    2019-03-18 11:03

    Sisman writes a balanced and fascinating biography of a poetic collaboration and deep friendship.The intense friendship these two poets had brought the best out in both of them. When their fiendship collapsed, they both would never again produce the superb poetry that their collaboration engendered.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-15 09:14

    Good book as far as literary bio goes. Dry at times to be sure, but interesting nonetheless. I am a fan of Coleridge in particular, so a better understanding of what made him tick (aside from laudinum!)was helpful at understanding his magnificent poetry.

  • Anne
    2019-03-23 11:52

    I have had a lifelong interest in Wordsworth and romanticism. I am drawn to literary biographies and find this one compelling in its focus on the two great geniuses of poetry (and politics).

  • Marie Grassick
    2019-03-16 04:58

    Run like the wind

  • Mariya
    2019-02-22 07:19


  • Catherine Siemann
    2019-03-05 04:58

    Well-written and engaging dual biography of both poets' early years.