Can preface to lyrical ballads be considered as a manifesto of romantic criticism?

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Yes, the Preface to Lyrical Ballads can be understood as a manifesto of Romantic criticism. In it, Wordsworth lays out his vision for a new kind of poetry, a poetry that sets itself in opposition to the Neo-Classical verse of writers, such as John Dryden and Alexander Pope. Neo-Classic poetry...

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Yes, the Preface to Lyrical Ballads can be understood as a manifesto of Romantic criticism. In it, Wordsworth lays out his vision for a new kind of poetry, a poetry that sets itself in opposition to the Neo-Classical verse of writers, such as John Dryden and Alexander Pope. Neo-Classic poetry relied on models provided by the writers of Ancient Greece and Rome. It also used very regular, measured rhyme schemes, often employing heroic couplets, and showed emotional restraint and rationalism. It often focused on heroic, aristocratic individuals: the great men of the world.

In contrast, Wordsworth (and Coleridge, though he later repudiated the Preface) envision a new kind of poetry. Influenced by revolutionary current, especially in France, and ideals of liberty, fraternity, and equality, the Preface extolls a poetry that celebrates the best in the lives of common people. It calls for using simple, everyday language and for the abandonment of rigid rhyme schemes. It celebrates nature, as well as the folkloric and the supernatural. It puts a strong emphasis on feeling and advocates for capturing emotions "recollected in tranquility."

Much of this type of poetry seems completely commonplace to us now, but at the time it represented a new direction. It did not arise in a vacuum: poets such as Gray and Cowper were already heading down this path, but it crystallized a set of poetic ideas in a way that had a great impact on a new generation of poets.

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Indeed, the Preface can be considered a type of manifesto of Romanticism.  It serves a declaration of intent as to what Wordsworth and Coleridge see as the direction of Romanticism as a movement.  The idea of being able to construct language and meaning in a different way, one that features a "certain colouring of imagination," helps to reconfigure how these thinkers were going to change the role of art and the artist in its creation.  The Preface goes a long way in being able to provide a sense of structure to Romanticism.  The entire tone of the Preface is declaratory.  There is little in way of complexity offered.  It is a statement, a bold and constructive element that makes no hesitation about its intent to change people's minds about how they view art and how individuals view themselves.  In this light, one can see this as a manifesto of Romanticism.

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