Wordsworth's decision to include his French experience in The Prelude was one of the most momentous of his literary career, comparable to Milton's decision in the year of Oliver Cromwell's death to develop his projected drama ‘Adam Unparadised’ into an epic with Satan in the pagan heroic role. In each case an earlier literary project was opened up to historical experience of a dramatically controversial interest. In each case an involvement of idealism with political power afforded both a motive for concealment and an exceptional opportunity for art. How did Wordsworth come to take this decision? The answer must depend on the poet's motive in presenting the French material.
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