Despite its impact in generating a more positive reception toward Wordsworth's work among his contemporaries, The River Duddon volume has received comparatively little critical attention in recent scholarship. On some level, this is unsurprising given the relative unpopularity of Wordsworth's later work among modern readers, but I believe that the relative shortage of critical scholarship on The River Duddon is due, at least in part, to a symptomatic failure to read the volume in its entirety. This essay takes up the challenge of following Wordsworth's directive to read The River Duddon volume as a unified whole. While I cannot account for every inclusion, I set out to explore how the idea of collection functions as the unifying force governing the volume's organizational and thematic structure. I argue that although the individual pieces that make up the collection are distinct from each other in their style, subject matter, and date of composition, together they constitute an exploration of the beauty of Wordsworth's native region and his interest in harmonizing aesthetic principles of variety and unity. When read as parts of a dialogical exchange rather than as self-contained units, the individual texts in The River Duddon collectively present an array of perspectives through which Wordsworth not only celebrates the rich diversity of the Lake District's local customs and landscapes, but also theorize a sophisticated poetics of collection which he hoped would help justify his poetic program and reinforce the literary and cultural weight of his future work.



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Humanities; English



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William Wordsworth, collection, The River Duddon, unity, tourism, Romantic volumes, middle years, The Excursion, Poems (1815), travel, sonnet, aesthetics