Charles Snodgrass & Jeffrey N. Cox
Texas A&M University
New technologies are coming to the aid of the study of Romanticism. E-mail keeps scholars around the world in contact as do on-line discussion groups such as the NASSR-Listserv. Websites — such as Romantic Circles itself — provide a gathering point for scholarly information and a meeting point for scholarly exchange. Now, with the issuance of Romanticism: The CD-ROM, created by David Miall and Duncan Wu and issued by Basil Blackwell, scholars and students have another useful tool at hand for the exploration of the literature and culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
When one starts the Romanticism: The CD-ROM program, one is first presented with the “Home” page that also serves as an initial table of contents and a navigation tool for the components of the hypertext. We are first going to be concerned with the texts, which can be accessed by clicking the “Texts” button above that summons up an alphabetical list of primary literary authors, the “Index” button which offers a complete list of documents and most images, or the “People” button which moves to a set of short biographical notices that are linked to texts. The other features of the hypertext—contextual material, maps, an examination of the “Gothic”—are also available from this page as are the help, search, and other navigation functions to be discussed later.
The hypertext anthology reproduces Romanticism: An Anthology, edited by Duncan Wu and published by Basil Blackwell in 1994; that is, it provides the first Wu edition, not the second edition offered in 1998 which has a different selection of texts and expanded critical apparatus. The hypertext anthology has the virtues and the drawbacks, then, of the first Wu edition. There are many things to praise in Wu’s anthology. One can only admire the return to manuscript and early printed sources; one is glad to have many texts offered in their entirety rather than in snippets. There are generous offerings from the six canonical poets. For example, the entire 1798 Lyrical Ballads is reproduced; Anne K. Mellor’s and Richard E. Matlak’s British Literature 1780–1830 (Harcourt Brace, 1996) offers about half of the poems. Wu provides complete texts of Songs of Innocence and Experience and of the Thirteen-Book Prelude, edited from the manuscripts, while Mellor and Matlak offer most but not all of Blake’s Songs and the Two-Part Prelude of 1799 together with long excerpts from the 1850 version. (It is interesting to note that Wu’s second edition now includes the Two-Part Prelude together with selections from the Five-Book Prelude, the Thirteen-Book Prelude, and the Fourteen-Book Prelude.) While one may have a favorite, say, Byron or Coleridge poem not included in the Wu selection, he enables any instructor to cover the canonical poets well.