This study considers why and how the heart became a vital image in Victorian poetry. It argues that the intense focus on heart imagery in the period highlights anxieties about the ability of poetry to act upon its readers. It covers key poems by authors such as Tennyson and the Brownings, and contextualizes them with reference to lesser-known works.
Victorian Poetry and the Culture of Evaluation argues that the dialectic and dynamic relationship between the periodical review and poetry creates a culture of evaluation which shapes Victorian poetic form. The mediation of poetry by the periodical review orients poets towards public readership and reception, heightening their self-consciousness about their audience and generating a poetics of publicness. Using methodologies associated with historical poetics and new formalism, the book examines the dialogues between poets and periodical reviews from the 1830s to the 1860s. It juxtaposes male and female poets and canonical and uncanonical texts. Challenging the critical binaries of fame and celebrity, the culture of evaluation posits a new way of reading Victorian poetry. It illuminates poets' engagement with the immediacy and inevitability of writing for the present and for the contemporary media through which poetry was read and disseminated. New patterns of reception were created by mass print culture and both poets and reviewers were preoccupied with reaching the newly constituted mass audience. The changes to the material forms of poetry (e.g. through the periodical or gift-book) and the subjection to the commercial imperatives of the literary marketplace encouraged bold experiment with verse. The book identifies three poetic strategies for articulating the preoccupation with a mass audience and the demands of mass media: voice, style and address. Chapters on voice, style, and address explore the development of poetic form in dialogue with periodical reviews.
Victorian poetry was read and enjoyed by a much larger audience than is sometimes thought. Publication in widely-circulating periodicals, reprinting in book reviews, and excerpting in novels and essays ensured that major poets such as Tennyson, Browning, Hardy and Rossetti were household names, and they remain popular today. The Cambridge Introduction to Victorian Poetry provides an accessible overview of British poetry from 1830 to 1901, paying particular attention to its role in mass media print culture. Designed to interest both students and scholars, the book traces lively dialogues between poets and explains poets' choices of form, style and language. It also demonstrates poetry's relevance to Victorian debates on science, social justice, religion, imperialism, and art. Featuring a glossary of literary terms, a guide to further reading, and two examples of close readings of Victorian poems, this introduction is the ideal starting-point for the study of verse in the nineteenth century.
In Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics, Isobel Armstrong rescued Victorian poetry from its longstanding sepia image as ‘a moralised form of romantic verse' and unearthed its often subversive critique of nineteenth-century culture and politics. In this uniquely comprehensive and theoretically astute new edition, Armstrong provides an entirely new preface that notes the key advances in the criticism of Victorian poetry since her classic work was first published in 1993. A new chapter on the alternative fin de siècle sees Armstrong discuss Michael Field, Rudyard Kipling, Alice Meynell and a selection of Hardy lyrics. The extensive bibliography acts as a key resource for students and scholars alike.
Nineteenth-century life and literature are full of strange accounts that describe the act of one person thinking about another as an ethically problematic, sometimes even a dangerously powerful thing to do. In this book, Adela Pinch explains why, when, and under what conditions it is possible, or desirable, to believe that thinking about another person could affect them. She explains why nineteenth-century British writers - poets, novelists, philosophers, psychologists, devotees of the occult - were both attracted to and repulsed by radical or substantial notions of purely mental relations between persons, and why they moralized about the practice of thinking about other people in interesting ways. Working at the intersection of literary studies and philosophy, this book both sheds new light on a neglected aspect of Victorian literature and thought, and explores the consequences of, and the value placed on, this strand of thinking about thinking.
'I am inclined to think that we want new forms . . . as well as thoughts', confessed Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning in 1845. The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry provides a closely-read appreciation of the vibrancy and variety of Victorian poetic forms, and attends to poems as both shaped and shaping forces. The volume is divided into four main sections. The first section on 'Form' looks at a few central innovations and engagements—'Rhythm', 'Beat', 'Address', 'Rhyme', 'Diction', 'Syntax', and 'Story'. The second section, 'Literary Landscapes', examines the traditions and writers (from classical times to the present day) that influence and take their bearings from Victorian poets. The third section provides 'Readings' of twenty-three poets by concentrating on particular poems or collections of poems, offering focused, nuanced engagements with the pleasures and challenges offered by particular styles of thinking and writing. The final section, 'The Place of Poetry', conceives and explores 'place' in a range of ways in order to situate Victorian poetry within broader contexts and discussions: the places in which poems were encountered; the poetic representation and embodiment of various sites and spaces; the location of the 'Victorian' alongside other territories and nationalities; and debates about the place - and displacement - of poetry in Victorian society. This Handbook is designed to be not only an essential resource for those interested in Victorian poetry and poetics, but also a landmark publication—provocative, seminal volume that will offer a lasting contribution to future studies in the area.
This study explores Victorian poetry in relation to Victorian religion, with particular emphasis on the bitter contemporary debates over the use of forms in worship. It discusses major Victorian poets - Tennyson, the Brownings, Rossetti, Hopkins, Hardy - and also argues that their work was influenced by a host of minor and less studied writers.
In Victorian Skin, Pamela K. Gilbert uses literary, philosophical, medical, and scientific discourses about skin to trace the development of a broader discussion of what it meant to be human in the nineteenth century. Where is subjectivity located? How do we communicate with and understand each other's feelings? How does our surface, which contains us and presents us to others, function and what does it signify? As Gilbert shows, for Victorians, the skin was a text to be read. Nineteenth-century scientific and philosophical perspectives had reconfigured the purpose and meaning of this organ as more than a wrapping and instead a membrane integral to the generation of the self. Victorian writers embraced this complex perspective on skin even as sanitary writings focused on the surface of the body as a dangerous point of contact between self and others. Drawing on novels and stories by Dickens, Collins, Hardy, and Wilde, among others, along with their French contemporaries and precursors among the eighteenth-century Scottish thinkers and German idealists, Gilbert examines the understandings and representations of skin in four categories: as a surface for the sensing and expressive self; as a permeable boundary; as an alienable substance; and as the site of inherent and inscribed properties. At the same time, Gilbert connects the ways in which Victorians "read" skin to the way in which Victorian readers (and subsequent literary critics) read works of literature and historical events (especially the French Revolution.) From blushing and flaying to scarring and tattooing, Victorian Skin tracks the fraught relationship between ourselves and our skin.