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This review is taken from PN Review 146, Volume 28 Number 6, July - August 2002.

THE AGE OF THE ANTHOLOGY The New Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry edited by Jonathan and Jessica Wordsworth (Penguin) £25

This is the age of the anthology: by my count there are no less than six devoted to the literature of the Romantic period currently in print (one of which, I should declare at the outset, is edited by me). Which makes this the seventh - The New Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry edited by Jonathan and Jessica Wordsworth, containing the work of fifty-one poets within the space of 1000 pages.

As all editors of such anthologies discover (often to their dismay), the task of selection is tortuously difficult. What you gain in depth you lose in diversity, and vice versa. The Wordsworths opt for diversity. Within twelve section headings determined both by genre and theme ('Protest and Politics', 'The Romantic Sonnet'), they arrange individual works in order of composition or publication, gathered from as wide a range of writers as possible and giving priority to females - Mrs Hemans, Letitia Landon, Ann Batten Cristall, Mary Robinson, Mary Tighe and Caroline Norton are all included.

But variety comes at a price. Here we have Mary Bryan's 'The Visit', Landon's 'The Indian Bride' and Jane Taylor's 'The Star' but must seek abroad for Lamia, Manfred, Thel, Urizen, Christabel Part II, Anecdote for Fathers, The Last of the Flock, Expostulation and Reply, The Tables Turned, Lines written among the Euganean Hills, Hyperion: A Fragment, Hart-Leap Well, The Pedlar, The Brothers or The Flitting. Anyone wishing to read Don Juan, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, The Fall of Hyperion, Michael, ...


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