In this essay, I will analyze William Wordsworth's commonplace book, DC MS26, alongside his poetic and critical statements on the idea of the commonplace in order to reevaluate his stance on book reading, especially on the role of books in rural life. Although his actual commonplace book is relatively sparse, including several dozen entries made over an eight‐year period, it illuminates a profound curiosity about the figurative affordances of commonplace books. In the Essays upon Epitaphs, his longest and most sustained work of literary criticism, Wordsworth develops a deeply textual model of rural community enabled by the idea that the country churchyard is a kind of commonplace book. With its collection of homely epitaphs accessible to anyone who visits, the country churchyard emblematizes a mode of bookishness unalienated from rural life.

You do not currently have access to this content.