Skip to content

Your Cart


You have 0 items in your cart.

Register Sign in Wishlist

Wordsworth and the Enlightenment Idea of Pleasure


Award Winner

Part of Cambridge Studies in Romanticism

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107566415

£ 20.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Ancient questions about the causes and nature of pleasure were revived in the eighteenth century with a new consideration of its ethical and political significance. Rowan Boyson reminds us that philosophers of the Enlightenment, unlike modern thinkers, often represented pleasure as shared rather than selfish, and she focuses particularly on this approach to the philosophy and theory of pleasure. Through close reading of Enlightenment and Romantic texts, in particular the poetry and prose of William Wordsworth, Boyson elaborates on this central theme. Covering a wide range of texts by philosophers, theorists and creative writers from over the centuries, she presents a strong defence of the Enlightenment ideal of pleasure, drawing out its rich political, as well as intellectual and aesthetic, implications.

    • Proposes a new view of pleasure in the eighteenth century
    • Offers original readings of Wordsworth's poetry and prose
    • Delivers an in-depth summary of philosophy and criticism on pleasure and happiness
    Read more


    • Winner of the 2013 University English CCUE Book Prize

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… persuasively argues that theories of pleasure in the eighteenth century have been mischaracterized as conservative, normative, and stultifying … A timely study of an important concept that offers a much needed account of the strange and heretofore somewhat baffling insistence in Wordsworth's work on the importance of pleasure.' European Romantic Review

    'This study brilliantly examines the modern misreading of Enlightenment pleasure, reframing it as as communal, collective and joyous (rather than private, solipsistic and disinterested). Boyson excels at engaging the reader with an argument that is at once historical, political and philosophical, but that skillfully holds on to the literary and aesthetic … There is no doubt that Wordsworth and the Enlightenment Idea of Pleasure offers a significant argument that I hope will both influence Wordsworth studies and open up the positive experiences his poetry offers for further critical attention. The study might even be considered as part of the 'eudaimonic turn' that currently seeks to rescue joy, ecstasy, wonder and happiness from those critics who dismiss it as ideology or neurosis in their weary roles as the defenders of literary criticism's negativity bias.' Emma Mason, BARS Bulletin and Review

    '… challenging, capacious [and] conceptually rich … at once a critique and an astute extension of Wordsworth's philosophical and aesthetic commitments.' Michael Pickard, Studies in Romanticism

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107566415
    • length: 256 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Pleasure Philosophy:
    1. Shaftesbury, Kant and the sensus communis
    2. Rousseau, Wollstonecraft and pleasure as power
    Part II. Wordsworth's Common Pleasure:
    3. Poetics of pleasure in the Lyrical Ballads
    4. Economies of affect in The Prelude and Home at Grasmere
    5. The politics of happiness in The Excursion

  • Author

    Rowan Boyson, King's College, Cambridge
    Rowan Boyson is a Research Fellow at King's College, Cambridge. She has published review-essays in New Formations and Literature Compass and is a member of the British Association of Romantic Studies.


    • Winner of the 2013 University English CCUE Book Prize

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.