Speculative Texts for MS B

We decided that an electronic site allowed for a more creative response to the materials. Thus for MS B we chose to create a series of "Speculative Texts" using the base material to construct possible earlier states of the text which do not exist in an embodied form. The "Speculative Text" does not have any scholarly status but it allows the user of the site to respond to the textual material in terms of different possible configurations.

MS B Speculative Text 1:

Possible State of Home at Grasmere in 1800

The first speculative text has been created very simply by taking the first 457 lines of MS B which must be copied from earlier material. Such a text does not exist anywhere in any separate state but only within the fair copy version of MS B. Lines 192-457 are present in MS A and lines 1-192 must have existed in some form or other, possibly on similar sheets to that of MS A.

Creating the speculative text allows us to have a stronger sense of the absent first phase of Home at Grasmere composition. The first speculative text is the least speculative here presented. The text itself exists in a continual state, and it must have been copied from something. Therefore, it did once exist, but we do not know exactly in what state and form. The closest we can come to it is by presenting the lines as they survive in the fair copy. Lines 185-191 of this text are missing because page 9 is lost from MS B and there is no surviving prior manuscript.

This text also forms the basis for the text of MS B in "Turning the Pages" format on the site. Again it was chosen because of its likely early date of 1800, as well as for reasons of length.

Speculative Text 1 consists of:

Lines 1-457 of MS B (with the omission of 185-191)

MS B Speculative Text 2

Missing Manuscripts from 1800

The second speculative text is created by following the editorial judgments of Mark Reed and Beth Darlington in terms of material which they consider highly likely to have been written in 1800. Its status is thus considerably more speculative than Text 1 and relies upon editorial suggestion. We have created it here to try and give some sense of what the poem might have felt like in 1800.

Mark Reed in Wordsworth: The Chronology of the Middle Years (1975)

In Appendix 6, Mark Reed begins by listing those points in the poem where the content "strongly suggests composition in 1800" (656) (71-79; 170-92; 238-68; 471-90; 502-44; 648-663 although all references are to MS D as the only published version at the time) and suggests some work might also have occurred in Spring, 1801.

Beth Darlington

Home at Grasmere Part First, Book First of The Recluse by William Wordsworth

Beth Darlington states that "lines in the first complete version of the poem, MS B . . . clearly express events and feelings of March and April 1800" (8). She lists a number of places within MS B material, some of which overlap with Mark Reed's (98; 104-113; 107-8; 129-136; 162-170; 257-259; 277-281; 218-226; 322-323; 326-329; 860-874).

Speculative Text 2 represents a uniting of:

Reed's suggested early passages (written in 1800 but with no surviving original draft)

Darlington's suggested early passages (written in 1800 but with no surviving original draft)