Alfred Tennyson: The Critical Legacy (Literary Criticism in by Laurence W. Mazzeno

By Laurence W. Mazzeno

Alfred Tennyson: The serious Legacy explores the critics' response to the paintings of the nineteenth-century English poet such a lot heavily linked to the Victorian period. probably greater than the other Victorian poet, Tennyson's attractiveness has waxed and waned within the century on account that his loss of life. He has been however sanctified and vilified for his selection of subject material, social outlook, morality, or concepts of versification. His recognition has weathered even the main vitriolic makes an attempt to discredit either the fellow and his writings; and as feedback of the past due 20th century demonstrates, Tennyson's declare to pre-eminence one of the Victorians is now unchallenged. Laurence Mazzeno starts this narrative research of Tennyson feedback with an examine how Tennyson was once looked by means of his contemporaries, prior to launching a close exam of twentieth-century feedback. A bankruptcy is dedicated to the interval instantly following Tennyson's loss of life, whilst a iteration of post-Victorians reacted violently opposed to what they thought of his sappy sentimentalism, cloying moralism, and insensitive jingoism. next chapters describe how critics resurrected Tennyson, highlighting either his technical mastery and his social feedback. exact consciousness is given to significant biographers and critics equivalent to Harold Nicolson, the poet's grandson Sir Charles Tennyson, Jerome Buckley, R. B. Martin, Michael Thorn, and Peter Levi. a last bankruptcy makes a speciality of the methods Tennyson and his paintings were addressed via poststructuralist critics. in the course of the examine, Mazzeno demonstrates that the critics' response to Tennyson finds as a lot approximately themselves and the severe prejudices in their personal occasions because it does concerning the Victorian Laureate and his poetry.

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Unquestionably the most important book published during the decade after Tennyson’s death was the two-volume biography by his son Hallam. Typical of nineteenth-century biographies, Alfred Tennyson: A Memoir (1897) consists largely of excerpts from letters, memoirs, diaries, and recorded conversations. Although she did not have quite as much direct involvement as Frances Lucy Arnold had over production of G. W. E. Russell’s edition of Matthew Arnold’s letters, Emily Sellwood Tennyson was certainly influential in assuring that the Memoir would only enhance the reputation of her husband.

Notes 1 The citations from many of the reviews quoted in this chapter are taken from John D. Jump’s excellent collection, Tennyson: The Critical Heritage (1967). Although Jump is highly selective, the reviews he includes give a remarkably accurate portrait of 28 ♦ TENNYSON AMONG HIS CONTEMPORARIES: 1827–1892 the reaction of Tennyson’s contemporaries to his work. For a detailed analysis of Hallam’s review, see Eileen T. Johnston, “Hallam’s Review of Tennyson: Its Contexts and Significance,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language (1981).

Stedman, the foremost American scholar of his day, says that, “The influence of Alfred Tennyson has been almost unprecedentedly dominant, fascinating, extended, yet of late has somewhat vexed the public mind” (151). After providing extensive commentary on dozens of the poems to assess the “inherent quality” (153) of Tennyson’s poems, Stedman proclaims that the laureate has greater breadth of interest and mental ability than his rivals Arnold and Browning. Conventionally, Stedman judges Idylls of the King to be Tennyson’s “master-work,” calling it the “greatest narrative poem since Paradise Lost” (175).

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