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Autograph Letter, Signed ("Walter Scott"), to Allan Cunningham
Abbotsford, [Scotland] 1828 - 2 pp. pen and ink on bifolium with integral address leaf, red wax seal. 1 vols. 4to. Scott on Wordsworth. Scott writes to the poet Allan Cunningham, offering a strong opinion on the defects of Wordsworth's poetry: "Wordsworth fails in receiving the universal suffrage he merits because his poetry is too subtle and metaphysical in the idea & too blunt in the expression. He thinks like a profound philosopher often when he uses the language of common even vulgar life." This critique goes right to the heart of Wordsworth's poetic vision and the Romantic project as expressed in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads - "to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men."Scott introduces the example of Wordsworth to contrast with Cunningham's own poetry, which Scott believes errs in the opposite direction, towards an overabundance of poetic language. He finds in it "a redundancy of fancy which outstrips the colder comprehension of most of your readers and which leads to an expenditure of ornament, which like too many rich trappings on a fine horse rather divert the attention from his genuine points of natural excellence." Scott belatedly concedes that authors should refrain from criticizing each other ("of a surety criticism is a thing to be eschewed betwixt two authors") and admits that it is only his own loss of poetic inspiration that has turned him to such criticism ("I am almost in the predicament Dryden speaks of when he says-the damnation of a poet is the generation of a critic").Cunningham (1784-1842) was a former stonemason's apprentice with a talent for imitating old Scottish airs. The inclusion of some of his originals in Robert Hartley Cromek's collection Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song led to a friendship with Scott. Grierson, ed. The Letters of Sir Walter Scott, XI, pp. 10-12 Creased from prior folding, small piece cut where opened at seal, not affecting text. Provenance: Sotheby's, 25 July 1978, lot 448 2 pp. pen and ink on bifolium with integral address leaf, red wax seal. 1 vols. 4to
      [Bookseller: James Cummins Bookseller, ABAA]
Last Found On: 2017-06-22           Check availability:      IberLibro    

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