Examination of the links between science and literary history is providing new insight for scholars across a range of disciplines. In Wordsworth and the Geologists, first published in 1995, John Wyatt explores the relationship between a major Romantic poet and a group of scientists in the formative years of a new discipline, geology. Wordsworth's later poems and prose display unexpected knowledge of contemporary geology and a preoccupation with many of the philosophical issues concerned with the developing science of geology. Letters and diaries of a group of leading geologists reveal that they knew Wordsworth, and discussed their subject with him. Wyatt shows how the implications of such discussions challenge the simplistic version of 'two cultures', the Romantic-literary against the scientific-materialistic; and he reminds us of the variety of interrelating discourses current between 1807 (the year of the foundation of the Geological Society of London) and 1850 (the year of Wordsworth's death).
• Extends discussion of Romanticism into the scientific field of geology • Brings insights into study of the relationships between literature and science • Introduces information about Wordsworth and science which affects readings of Wordsworth's poetry
1. Introduction; 2. Wordsworth's geology: references and allusions; 3. 'Pronounce their benediction: speak of them as powers': the wider context of geological information; 4. Trinity men; 5. Order, clarity, distinctness; 6. 'The universality of nature's kingdom'?; 7. Duration and decay: the abyss of time; 8. Geology: the poetic discipline; 9. Geologists and humanity; 10. Conclusion.
'… an absorbing and important book.' Stephen Gill, Romanticism