Saeko Yoshikawa, ed., William Wordsworth. Guide to the Lakes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022. Pp. 207. 8 illus. £9.99. ISBN 9780198848097.

Saeko Yoshikawa's newly annotated Oxford World's Classics edition ofGuide to the Lakes provides readers with a sedate, highly instructive, and scholarly edition to refresh the sense of Wordsworthian prose 'mana'. Akin to the previously four annotated editions of Wordsworth's Guide to the Lakes by Peter Bicknell, Ernest de Sélincourt, Nicholas Mason (with Paul Westover and Shannon Stimpson), and W. J. B. Owen (with Jane Smyser), Yoshikawa selects the 1835 fifth Guide text as the centerpiece of the book. Yoshikawa's edition addresses two key questions. First, by minutely tracing the history of the different editions of the Guide(the 1810 first edition, the 1820 appendix to River Duddon sonnets, the 1822 first portable edition, the 1823 Longman slow-sales edition, the 1835 commercial success, and the 1842-59 later curtailed Hudson editions), the editor answers the questions concerning 'the difference between them' (xx). Secondly, Yoshikawa asks '[i]n what ways […] does Wordsworth's Guide encourage us to appreciate the Lakeland landscape?' (xxv), and responds by offering a close reading of the subtler aesthetic aspects of the volume. Unique reference to the leaves' colour presses home both the Guide 's aesthetic intensity and the role of Wordsworth's sister, Dorothy, in its composition.

The explanatory notes helpfully provide relevant poetic lines concerning the exact locations excerpted from Wordsworth's oeuvre, including An Evening Walk, Lyrical Ballads, both the 1805 and 1850 Prelude, The Excursion , and River Duddon sonnets. It is very useful to compare the Guide with the evocations of Wordsworth's verse lines scattered in the notes, where all these poetic lines are meticulously enumerated, showing how many times they also appear in the Victorian Lakeland guidebooks written by subsequent generations of writers such as J.M. Wilson, James Payn, W.T. Palmer, and others. The index has usefully been categorized into four sections ('Places-People-Guidebooks-Subjects'). Along with the index, the additional Glossary offers accessible topographical and cultural knowledge of the Lake District for those less well acquainted with the geography and textual history of 'Wordsworthshire' (xxx).

This annotated edition is also accompanied by four ample appendices. Appendix I provides the readers with the first edition of Wordsworth's letterpress from Joseph Wilkinson's Select Views in Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire (1810). It allows the readers better to compare the words in the 1835 Guide text. The original text of Wordsworth's Guide is designed to suit Wilkinson's 48 plates, 8 of which are selected and printed in this book for a more visual guide, based on Wordsworth's initial stages of letterpress. Appendix II draws on two letters written by Wordsworth to the editor of the Morning Post concerning the Kendal and Windermere Railway. On the one hand, Wordsworth takes great advantage of the railways' easy transport in his eager letter (20 June 1844) to the local publisher John Hudson about the sales promotion of the Guide (see xxii); on the other hand, the poet also publicly opposes the railways' borderless intrusion by writing his famous sonnet 'Is then no nook of English ground secure'. Yoshikawa keenly alerts us to Wordsworth's ambiguous attitude towards the railway and captures this process of dynamic (dis)equilibrium by hinting in the introduction that 'this is all the more surprising given that his letter to Hudson was written just four months before the publication of his controversial sonnet' (xxii). The editor also looks at the railway controversy in a wider and timelier context, as it 'began to assume fresh significance' (xxx) in a new age 'when motorcars and new roads arrived in the Lake District' (xxx). The chart and list in Appendix III trace the Guide's textual changes in the history of different editions. Appendix IV exhibits the impacts and legacies of Wordsworth's Guide in the two hundred subsequent years of Lake District tourism. These appendixes render visible important corresponding relationships, structural differences, and a comprehensive range of historical contexts to provide a better understanding of the main 1835 text.

The front cover illustration of this edition is also an interesting choice. Though emphasising the role of Joseph Wilkinson's plates, the editor chooses the more limpid watercolour etching of Francis Towne's Windermere at Sunset (1786), which seems to give a nod to Wordsworth's own intolerant feelings towards Wilkinson's drawings and to encourage readers to feel 'the medium of a purer element' (36) in the most famous lake of the Lakeland landscape in their own reflecting minds.

Overall, this newly annotated edition of theGuideis a timely reminder of how Wordsworth helped shape later generations to view the Lake District as 'a sort of national property' (68). With an eye on Wordsworth's proto-ecology, Yoshikawa both 'reaffirm[s] the significance of the Guidein the context of today's sustainable tourism in the Lake District' (xxxiv) and Wordsworth's deep thinking about maintaining 'the […] visionary mountain republic' (51) in his own challenging and transitory time.

Sheng Yao, University of Durham

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.