chapter
Introduction
Pages 18

In the 1815 preface to his Poems in Two Volumes William Wordsworth names 'Narrative' first among the 'various moulds' into which poetry may be cast, and goes on to list 'divers forms' that it takes, from epic to metrical novel. What they have distinctively in common, he observes, is that 'the Narrator, however liberally his speaking agents be introduced, is himself the source from which everything primarily flows'. Wordsworth's definition sensibly ignores that series of plotted events which modern narratology in the Aristotelian line has usually regarded as the axiomatic sine qua non of storyness. His primary emphasis, more Platonic in its affiliations, comes down firmly instead on the quintessential act of telling, dispersed though it may be through several 'speaking agents'. An impulse to censor inconsistencies of character and trajectory is often apparent in post-1805 revisions of The Prelude. Character may be thought of quite literally: as script, as figure or mark of writing.