The Story of the Storyteller: The Ruined Cottage and the Arc of Wordsworth's Poetic Career (thesis)
The Ruined Cottage, as we read it in anthologies today, is the tragic story of a young country woman who spends the final decade of her life slowly wasting away, tortured by the enduring hope that one day her husband will return to her. But on a much larger scale The Ruined Cottage is the story of its storyteller—more than fifty years of Wordsworth’s career preserved in a series of over a dozen meticulously revisited manuscripts. It is a far more complicated story than Wordsworth scholars advertise, because it is far more than the story of a once-revolutionary poet whose theories and goals outpaced his abilities and led to his decline. It is the story of a man whose seminal poetic theories shaped the course of English Romanticism, who would later be condemned, at times rightly and at times wrongly, for verbosity and obliqueness and atheistic tendencies, but who would eventually enjoy the poetic immortality he had once been convinced he would never find. [From Epilogue]
Honors Thesis; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Scott A. Sugden is a member of the Class of 2015 of Washington and Lee University.