Saturday, 6 November 2010

Red White Chapel

I am here, in the dark with you. The tall man dressed in black, a wicked silver knife in my hand. My face is unseen. I absorb the light, turning no one away. I am everywhere, in your mythologies and perversions. I am in your children’s books, because children always know. They say I am a deep cultural myth, weaved countless times over; a hybrid of truth, lies, fear and imagination. Some say that I am a priest, wandering between the worlds of the living and the dead. What does the knife of an immortal do to mortal flesh?  Agonies and shadows, liquid fire, and the arcing light of divine silver.



September 9th, 1888

My wife’s name is Anna. She frightens me. She does not yield as I thought at first she would. I feel I am in the presence of some divine confluence of events. London is dying, and my peers remain oblivious. As the lower classes succumb to this disease and corruption so does our once great city. Anna is dying also, slowly, slowly dying, and yet still she dares to softly question me. Oftentimes I am inclined to think of this world as an intricate puzzle-box, a child’s game of infinite complexity or simplicity. All things are connected to all things, but this is talk unfit for public consumption. Our Great Queen, she is unperturbed by the destruction of my Londinium that, as a child, I had so loved and despised.
     When I first met Anna she was kneeling at her father’s side.
     They took shade beneath a mighty tree on Hampstead Heath, sharing wine and pastries as other couples did. I saw the possibilities even then, during those summer months, when she was a breathtaking seventeen years of age. She had a skin like alabaster. Her father and I became acquaintances of a sort. He told me an illness in his daughter’s blood had long made itself known to his doctors. There was nothing to be done, he claimed. His wife had befallen the same fate. He felt the Lord had abandoned him, executed his wife and left him with this gorgeous, sickly child who was the singular image of her mother.
     It is funny the way men play games with men.
     I am not an enemy of Christ or the Church. In fact, though I am a man of reason, I do not believe our new enlightened age signals the death throes of the Almighty. Our pen and scalpel alone will not tear God so easily from the heavens. I told her father that we could come to some arrangement. He seemed pleased enough, realising that I was a man of considerable familial wealth. His recompense was sizable. No, I am not an enemy of God. But perhaps this thing stalking Whitechapel and Spitalfields, perhaps this may immolate the Christian spirit in many years to come.
     They have already begun weaving tales. I have heard them in the raucous public houses and gas-lit corners of the East End. If ever he were a man when he first put his blade to the whores, he is a man no longer. Already their lurid fictions have made him something else, their Penny Dreadfuls filled with gleeful superstition; these have drifted into the London nights and the air is thick now with mythical imagination. I cannot allow my tender Anna to know the recent truths of this ugly city; the truths of The Decameron, Baudelaire, or de Sade. I have locked her in our most handsome Georgian home in Bloomsbury. She is most ill, and I fear it would be too much. I have forbidden any visitors, or servants. Anna looks at me in such a way, with the complicity of the damned, but also a jutting mysterious power beneath it. She frightens me in ways I am hesitant to describe. They have given this hero, this destroyer of whores, a name.
     They call him Jack.

The diary of Elliot Crane
Professor of English & Rhetoric Studies
Bentham College, London

***

Men do not kill for the pleasure, for the sheer craft and joy involved. Men only pretend that they do. In truth men kill because they are angry and weak and beautiful and afraid, so utterly afraid of being alone.  That is why men destroy. But angels, ah, angels seek beauty everywhere. The divine takes pleasure in all things, even the darkest, most abhorrent of things. I am so old that I am young, and I have been seen so often that I am anonymous.



1st November, 1888

Jack the Knife, Jack the Knife
He’ll take your heart an’ steal your life
Jack the Knife comes back for more
Out of the shadows to gut the whore

I heard illiterate street-children singing this near Mitre Square. This new hero has made a comfortable home in their merciless imaginations, as though they are just waiting for the Whitechapel murderer to slaughter again. They are flinty-eyed and cold of heart, these dirty ragged urchins. They desire blood to light up the night and flow with the sewage through the streets.
     He has many folk-names now. Old Jack, Red Jack, Demon Jack. I pity the man that actually raises the blade. He cannot compete with his mythical counterpart. This heinous coward, he kills women because they disgust him, because he is so afraid of them. He hates them utterly, these whores; their witchlike toothless faces, their desperate hidden strength, their sheer human ghastliness. Perhaps finally he sees too much of himself in them. Anna has been asking more questions in that quiet, forceful way of hers. Recently I awoke to find her vacant from our bed, methodically walking the dark corridors of our home. I have found her twice in my study, with gaslight burning, leafing calmly through books of Greek mythology. She tells me softly that she is like Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods, and I pretend I do not understand. If I were not such a reasonable man, I would swear that she is touched with some terrible magic. I cannot abide it. My anger swells. I commanded her to bed. She does not fear me. I try to make love to her as forcefully as possible, crushing the pale buds of her breasts in my palms, but it is a fitful, embarrassing experience, and she is somewhere else besides. In the night I hear her laughing softly to herself.
     Jack the Knife, with his anointed silver, he baptised those horrid women with their own scarlet life, and whisked them away from this rotting carapace. I can imagine what he does. He wanders the streets as only the bourgeois can, with the unassailable confidence that all of London is his leisure. He dons his Sunday-finest, as though he is attending church, and in a way he is. I imagine that he wears a wedding ring on a long chain of silver around his neck. He offers this ring to the toothless whores in grimy alleyways and back gardens, where the light is poor and the shadows thick. They laugh at him, or call him ‘sir’, and some of them play along. But some of them understand, in a flash of insight, and try to scream. They do not accept him as one of their own.
     If this Whitechapel murderer is not caught by the Inspectors of Scotland Yard, then he will soon become a terrible immortal, if he is not one already. Then he will truly be Jack the Knife. In the newspapers this morning I read of more ghastliness; two murders in one night. Elizabeth Stride and Cathy Eddowes were opened up like crimson treasure chests, the uterus and kidney taken swiftly from their broken, brokered flesh. Those two unfortunates are not the last. I suspect more women will fall, carved at the delicate hands of Jack. There is a monster hiding in the shadows of Whitechapel. Anna did not come down for tea this morning, instead she pondered in our room, still clad in her torn nightdress. Before leaving for work I lit a fire in our hearth, and tossed the newspapers into the crackling, spitting flames. I write too much in these pages, I fear, or not enough.

The diary of Elliot Crane
Professor of English & Rhetoric Studies
Bentham College, London

***

You are fascinated with me only because I am within you, as all things are. The blood is the life. It can be shared or it can be spilt; liquid fire, knowledge of the gods, running through the veins of men. I know the hot crimson. I know how it sings when it is released, humming from ruined flesh. But the murders of men are lazy, cowardly and ugly. Unlike the beauty they imitate. You see, I am in love with my chaos. I am in love with you, all of you. The angels you pretend to be, the devils you wish you were. I have a wicked silver knife, and I dress in black. You cannot see my face. I am an angel. I can take your breath away.


10th November, 1888

There has been another murder. They are calling him the Ripper now. Jack the Ripper. On the streets of Whitechapel there is talk of the Ripper being something other than human. A ghost perhaps, an old-world demon of vengeance sent to reap the vice-ridden, or even the cleansing hand of the Lord himself. Delusional fantasies always gather around violence and mystery; the city whispering to itself. They want Jack the Ripper to be a monster, an evil serpent with burning silver blades, not an inadequate mortal. But he is both of these things, surely? I head another rhyme near Hanover Street, sung by a miserable-looking little girl. She had hair like dirty straw and eyes like black stones. Jack the Ripper will bleed the moon, of silver knife and silver spoon. She peered at me as I passed her, threatening to devour me with her awful gaze. She muttered something about how she could not cry any more.
     At dinner I told Anna not to defy me with her strange silences, her glances and frowns, and still this magic seemed to emanate from her pale dying frame. She said nothing in her defence. Angered, I moved to strike her across the face, yet despite her weakness she caught my hand firmly at the wrist, halting me, peering at me like the girl in the street. My heart trembled, I think, with utter desire and fear. I dared not let her see my reproach and left the table immediately.
     Identity is like gold to the civilised world. The white man lives in a realm of time and space and reason. There must be logic present in his world or, unlike some primitive races, he will descend into madness. We desire cold, dead fact. Anything warm and ambiguous is not fit to be entertained by our superior intellect. But Jack the Knife; the Ripper, he escapes our definitions, having no identity. He is only what we have allowed to happen, to Londinium and our psyches. Anna knows this somehow. I can see it in her eyes. It has been almost a year since we were wed. She is only eighteen. Still there is this love of words, this fascination with language that her father said was ‘inevitable’ since all she did was read through the worst periods of illness; a silent, bookish girl. But it is more than that. There is some horrible intelligence in my exquisite alabaster wife. I suspect that in medieval times my Anna would have been lashed to a tree and burned alive. In fear this morning I left her a key on our mantle. I do not know if she will use it to venture from our house, into the truth of the city, or even if she will touch it. But I am afraid of her, and I must bring this to an end.

The diary of Elliot Crane
Professor of English & Rhetoric Studies
Bentham College, London

***

At first she is horrified at what she is about to do, but the fear passes quickly, for she is a brave girl. She has not been outside for almost a year. The noise of carriages and the smell of horseshit assail her senses. The wind bites her cheek. She pushes onward, amidst men, women, and the cold London air.
     Her husband has planned all this. She knows there is something wrong. She knows that there is a great wrongness somewhere in the city, and in her husband’s heart. Even now as she wanders in her wasting flesh, she resolves to find that wrongness. She will not stand before St Peter without answers; she will not falter at the Gate. She does not have much time left in this world, she reasons, perhaps a few years, perhaps far less.
     Eventually she notices a newsstand. An older man is watching his little worker beat his trade to the passers-by. The child is successful, since today’s paper is full of horror. A young Irish whore butchered beyond all recognition in her bed. Anna shoves a coin into the little worker’s palm and tears a paper from his grasp. The boy grins and forgets her immediately. She reads the gruesome article, of how the whore’s heart was taken. I listen to her silent reading voice and notice how beautiful it is, how fierce and earnest. She becomes sick with certainty and wonders suddenly if she is in some terrible dream. I smile at this.
     She is in the secret place now, my domain. I am not the architect of this horror, but I shall be remembered for it. Standing there she realises she has slipped through a crack into the place below the world. She is strange, this Anna. She glances up from the pages in her hands, and somehow she notices me.
     I am taken aback, angel that I am. I did not expect this. She sees me watching her, only a few feet away, dressed in black and faceless, a wicked silver knife in my hand. She quickly realises that no one else can see me. There is something in her eyes that I am enchanted by. It fades, that fierceness, and she lowers her gaze, unimpressed with me somehow. She lets the paper fall to the ground and turns, heading back towards the handsome Georgian house.
     I realise something. She is leading me home. She knows I am following her. She glances across the street, and sees her husband standing in front of a jeweller’s shop. There is finality in his eyes and his thoughts. He has been following her too. He has met her in this place below the world, at last. He thinks she will run, and he resolves to slaughter her there in the open, no matter the consequences. But he does not know her. She crosses the street, avoiding carriages and horses, and silently takes his hand. Shaken, he leads her back to the house.
     He leads her into the bedroom. Curtains are drawn, gaslight is ignited. He orders her to disrobe. He tells her he will fuck her now, violently, and slit her throat at the moment of his liberation. She does not disrobe. Instead she tells him that she loves him, and that she cannot allow him any longer. She glances at me, uncertain, and despite her heavy garments I see that she has never been more naked than she is now.
     There are moments when angels can make themselves known to men, when the invisible can breach the visible world. You have read about such moments, in scripture and fairytale, and secretly you believe such moments to be real. You are like children in this secret belief, and children always know.
     I step from the shadows, taken with the solemn radiance of this Anna. I click my silver knife against the bedpost. Elliot turns and sees me. For a moment he is dumb-struck, not quite believing what he sees, and glances at his wife. Although I am faceless, he knows that I am smiling. He begins to scream, this killer, as though horrified of the things he dreams. There was a time when he thought I was beautiful. I fall upon him, and Elliot Crane, the Whitechapel murderer, is lost amidst whirling silver and flowing crimson. Not a drop of his blood hits the floor, and in the next moment Anna is left standing alone in the empty bedroom. She is awed, but she will live another few years.
     There is magic in the world.
     There are those who wish they had never seen it, but Anna is not one of those.
     I love you, you see. That is why I am here in the dark with you. I am the Knife.
     Call me Jack.

***********************

Red and the Black

Her motivation was like ice, surprising after the horror in her wake. The determination howled in her blood. Bethany was running so fast that she had left behind all sense of genuine space. She stumbled, fell, got up again, without any loss of the duty that drove her forward. She was clad in a hooded crimson shawl, bleeding and barefoot, thinking that her life was gossamer, a thread whose pearls were these merciless flights from a maelstrom that hung like a wraith at her shoulder.
     Her feet no longer hurt. She felt nothing in her body. She was pale and thin, as mama had been, with quick, dark eyes that belied her sixteen years. After the Templar Knights came with fire and burned everyone she felt nothing for the Word of God. Those soldiers of Christ, previously heroes in her dreams, became gargoyles and demon-kissed. Bethany knew well of her mother’s affront to Catholicism, her secret workings with the ancient painted-lady of the shoreline caves. Secrets could not be kept from the devoted. When one of the knights forced mama onto the hay-strewn floor of the stables she cursed in a foreign tongue and spat in his face. The horses bucked and snorted, pawing the earth as though it were them about to be defiled. Bethany hid, as she was told. The terrible knight began reciting a Latin remonstration as he cupped at mama’s breast, forcing her thighs open with his knees.
     His face had changed then, it quivered, becoming momentarily feline, then canine, then again the ruthless mask of Man. She remembered her mother’s words just before the knight breached their hiding place, words like a sliver of quartz in her head – you must watch everything.
     She watched it all.
     Nearly three days now she had been running, resting, keeping close to the imagined spirits of the forest trees. She had found a journal once from Father Calhill, hidden within a bible-binding, talking of the elder guardians of the green places. It was heresy to speak openly of such things, so mama and the priest kept their devotion concealed from all but the inner circle of the Memoria Sol – the Memory Sun. Rome was at war with itself, as it had been since the birth of modern Christendom.
     There were demons hiding within the Church - Bethany came to suspect it just as mama had - monsters with an exquisite understanding of the mortal imagination. They were the true dark sorcerers and cruel witches; a score of vampires demanding nothing less than total subjugation, infinite agonies.
     Bethany ran a hard, dead flight.
     She heard the sea before she saw it. Quickly but carefully she made her way down the slopes and gravel to the broken beach, where huge slabs of rock jutted like the half-buried skeleton of a titan. The mouth of the cave was here somewhere, obscured by grey stone and crashing foam. Bethany had followed mama to this place many times, in secret, lest her mother concern herself with her daughter’s similar interests. She knew the painted-lady lived somewhere in those caverns, at home in the dark, closer to the womb of the Earth. She was one of the most trusted allies of Memoria Sol. Bethany once overheard Father Calhill say that she was perhaps two hundred years old, a keeper of the most sacred magic, her very existence denied.
     Bethany feared the Church had somehow infiltrated her mother’s clan of heretical insurrectionists. The Templar Knights spared no souls. When the stables began to burn she did not leave at once, she stayed for many moments; cradling her mother’s defiled, butchered corpse. Bethany tried to collect mama’s entrails and put them back inside, but her young hands were slick with red life and everything kept slipping through her fingers. She was unable to shed a tear. She was now the legacy of the memory sun, barely a young woman; a child who watched her mother desecrated by holy men.
     She knew those holy men were coming and that there were monsters among them.
     Entering the black space felt frightening, sexual, the sea like a susurration of charmed voices, and Bethany felt the surety of fate flooding her veins. Mama had been dead for only three days. She had made it this far. Any life beyond this was now unimportant. It was warmer and wetter inside than she had anticipated. The stones were slick beneath her bare feet. It was not a complete darkness. Fractures in the rocks above let in shafts of light like a sacristy, and the deeper into the caves she progressed the more like an underground church it became. Even the expectant hush was the same, the poised stillness that she felt inside cathedrals.
     When she saw it she knew she was already too late.
     The painted-lady was posed on a candlelit altar in mock crucifixion, a stalagmite rising through her punctured chest. Bethany felt a lurch of doom, climbing bile in her throat. She wretched but nothing came. The painted-lady’s robe was a patchwork of dark fabrics, her long grey hair tangled about her skull like bloodied serpents. She had been impaled, and someone or something found this banality amusing.
     It was over, Bethany knew. Memoria Sol was now a ghost in the breast of a sixteen year old girl.
     She heard the knight scratching in the mud with tip of his sword, and her gaze found his obsidian eyes. It was the same knight that took mama.
     “It dies with you, little one. We cannot allow you to be here. We wish to make a mockery of the Church. We need total control of men’s minds. There can be no greater possibilities for them. You have a great love in your heart. You are stronger than me. We both know that. Your love binds, connects. But I am singular and a coward. I am going to take your maidenhead, your blood and your flesh. I want to see a crystalline fear in your eyes.”
     Bethany opened her young lips and spoke a rebuttal. “I am not afraid of you, demon, not in truth. You lack the imagination to be worthy of it. It never dies, ugly fool. Take me. I will pity you as you feast on me.”
     He smiled then with a mouth that split impossibly wide. Memoria Sol held steadfast to the deepest secret – knowledge of the eternal human soul, a flame without limit, never to be extinguished. She was about to be taken into a birthright beyond claim. As the feral knight approached her, Bethany began to scream the gleeful scream of immortality.

Wordsworth and the Sublime

The word ‘sublime’ can mean exalted, noble, awe-inspiring, or it can suggest a supreme indifference. Each of these descriptions is self-contained and yet connected, layering the concept of the sublime with many shades of meaning, and language is inherently a system of signs that refers to itself for meaning. Many writers through the ages have discussed and argued on what the sublime means in various contexts. Among them is John Baillie, who wrote ‘An essay on the sublime’ in 1747. In it he creates a useful sketch of what the sublime might be:

Few are so insensible, as not to be struck even at first view with what is truly sublime; and every person upon seeing a grand object is affected with something which as it were extends his very being, and expands it to a kind of immensity. […]hence arises that exultation and pride which the mind ever feels from the consciousness of its own vastness -

With this in mind the essay will explore the work of William Wordsworth with regards to the sublime.  When discussing the subject of poetry in ‘Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’, Wordsworth argues for a choice of language closer to what is actually used by men, and ‘to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination […] as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement’.  Later he goes on to say, ‘For the human mind is capable of being excited without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its dignity and beauty who does not know this’.

It seems Wordsworth wants to convey the power inherent in both Nature and the mind of Man, especially by highlighting the interrelationship between them. Later in the Preface he asks, ‘What then does the poet? He considers man and the objects that surround him as acting and re-acting upon each other, so as to produce an infinite complexity of pain and pleasure’. This insight alone could be deemed sublime because it recognises the endless interplay of elements that give rise to any one moment, event, or individual. As he says in ‘Expostulation and Reply’:

The eye – it cannot choose but see;
We cannot bid the ear be still;
Our bodies feel, where’er they be,
Against or with our will.

Wordsworth views both nature and the human mind as being filled with magnificent subtleties. It is this exquisite strength that he discusses in much of his poetry, a vitality that can overpower or liberate the senses depending on the skill of the perceiver. In ‘Simon Lee’ he writes simply:

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.

Wordsworth seems to find nobility in the connection between nature and man – the way nature enlarges the mind by feeding its creativity, and how the mind exalts nature by perceiving its complex power. To the poet this interrelationship is awe-inspiring, creating a rich combination of fear and joy. In this imaginative perception the mind appears to itself as both vast and miniscule, a microcosm of the external world. As he highlights in ‘Tintern Abbey’:

And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused

This sense of the sublime could be described as a noble humility because it carries with it the acknowledgment of disturbing things, of questions unanswered, of suffering and joy both existing at once. If increasing age necessitates this kind of humility then perhaps it is recognition of the inevitability of death. Juliet Barker, in her book Wordsworth: A Life, discusses an incident the poet had as a child at Cockermouth Castle while investigating the ruins with friends. She writes:

Like any small boy, he found the castle dungeons irresistible and decided to brave a descent. These were no ordinary dungeons, however, but oubliettes, accessible only through a small trapdoor in the ceiling. […] Not surprisingly, he was overcome with horror at the thought of being buried alive. To the hitherto blithe and unthinking boy, the ‘soul-appalling darkness’ of the dungeon was like an unexpected taste of the grave.

The passion of youth could be said to normally lack this awareness simply because youth, in general, is fresh, a carefree romp through new enchanted lands. However, in later life, through ‘emotion recollected in tranquillity’ the mind can become sober, even solemn, by witnessing the complexity of nature and its relationship to Man. The mind’s responsiveness to life does not need to wither, it only needs to mature. As he describes so sincerely in ‘My Heart Leaps Up’:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So it was when my life began;
So it is now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!

The spectre of death seems to be powerfully connected to an appreciation of the sublime. In the note to Isabella Fenwick on ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality’ he says, ‘Nothing was more difficult for me in childhood than to admit the notion of death as a state applicable to my own being’. In the Ode itself he writes:

O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!

With maturity comes the appreciation of the transience of human life, and nature’s apparently sublime indifference to it – it seems a noble indifference that is somehow comforting. Has Wordsworth added a colouring of imagination to a natural world that neither comforts nor remembers? If he has added this gleam then it is a sober moral choice stemming from his love of man and nature. In the ‘Elegiac Stanzas’ he writes:

Ah! THEN, if mine had been the Painter’s hand,
To express what then I saw; and add the gleam,
The light that never was, on sea or land,
The consecration, and the Poet’s dream;

The use of the word ‘consecration’ suggests that Wordsworth does not genuinely doubt nature, but rather that he desires an imaginative morality that would make human life sacred.  If recognising sanctity is to be awe-inspired, then Man’s morality can allow him to experience the sublime. This more mature interaction with the world can be seen in his sonnet ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge’ where he writes:

Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

These lines touch upon the potency of stillness, a kind of quiet power beneath the surface that seems all the more awesome because it is patient. Considering the frenetic, full-blooded perception of youth, could this quiet power be analogous to the more solemn perception of maturity? Perhaps the idea of the sublime comes into focus more sharply in older-age because it is a consciousness infused with an awareness of death.

This creation of a mature poetic image of the mind is indivisible from Wordsworth’s sense of morality. It is tantamount to a code of conduct, a way of treating the mind and its experiences with love. This link between reason and imagination seems to be an important key to understanding and interacting with the sublime. As he writes later in The Prelude:

This spiritual love acts not, nor can exist
Without Imagination, which in truth
Is but another name for absolute power
And clearest insight, amplitude of mind,
And reason, in her most exalted mood.

This code of conduct is a way of navigating through human experiences; it simultaneously enchants and makes sense of what Man perceives in his relationship to nature and to himself. Everything in a human life is transient, even the physical body. Wordsworth was buried at Grasmere Churchyard in the Lakelands, near to his childhood home. As Juliet Barker writes in Wordsworth: A Life:

The headstone that was eventually erected over William’s grave was, as he wished, stark in its simplicity. A plain piece of Lakeland stone, without ornament of any kind, it simply stated to the curious passer-by, ‘William Wordsworth 1850’.

In closing then, it seems the individual must eventually recognise that death claims all living things, but he must also recognise that the power to imagine can transcend any physical experience. This is the closest thing to a divine power that Man possesses. Wordsworth was likely well aware of this when he composed these lines of The Prelude:

The prime and vital principle is thine
In the recesses of thy nature, far
From any reach of outward fellowship,
Else is not thine at all.



Bibliography

Barker, Juliet: Wordsworth: A Life (London: Viking, Penguin Books Ltd, 2000)

The Cambridge Companion to Wordsworth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2003)

Hartman, Geoffrey H.: Wordsworth’s Poetry 1787-1814 (Cambridge, Massachusetts:
Harvard University Press, 1987)

Kelly, Theresa M.: Wordsworth’s revisionary aesthetics (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1988)

The Norton Anthology of English Literature (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,
2000)

Purvis, John: A Preface to Wordsworth, Revised Edition (London, Longman Group UK,
1986)

Romanticism: A critical reader (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1995)

The sublime: a reader in British eighteenth-century aesthetic theory (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1996)

William Wordsworth: Selected Poems (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)