Wordsworth and the Art of Philosophical Travel begins by characterizing The Recluse project as an attempt to combine travel writing and moral philosophy. Unlike many travel writers of the time, however, whose writings moved back and forth between the particular and the general in constructing universalizing histories of humanity, natural law, and the state of nature, Wordsworth was never able to produce ‘an overarching and structural analysis of “Nature, Man, and Society”’ (p. 6). While this inability to universalize impeded Wordsworth’s completion of The Recluse, it also generated a different kind of poetic power that marks his early poetry: a stubborn resistance of particularity, materiality, and strangeness, out of which a kind of alien language of unassimilated otherness speaks forth. Offord describes this voice at one point as the ‘“language of the ancient earth” whose referent...

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