Cover image for Tennyson's poetry : authoritative texts, contexts, criticism
Title:
Tennyson's poetry : authoritative texts, contexts, criticism
Author:
Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, Baron, 1809-1892.
Uniform Title:
Poems. Selections
Edition:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xi, 703 pages ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780393972795
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

It includes selections from the 1830, 1832, and 1842 volumes, together with songs from The Princess and In Memoriam; complete poems from the middle period, including Maud, Enoch Arden, and nine Idylls of the King, including the Dedication; and a generous offering from the late period, 1872-92. The authoritative texts are based on the Cambridge Tennyson; additional selections have been taken from Sir Charles Tennyson's editions of Tennyson's Unpublished Early Poems (1931) and The Devil and the Lady (1930), as well as the Eversley edition, with notes by the poet's son. The texts of the poems are copiously annotated and the lines of poetry conveniently numbered for easy reference. A special section, Juvenilia and Early Responses, offers easy access to work by the young Tennyson, not readily available elsewhere, together with responses from his contemporaries.Criticism includes significant statements on Tennyson as well as interpretations of the major poems. A special feature is Georg Roppen's essay on Tennyson and the theory of evolution. Other critical voices are those of A. C. Bradley, Harold Nicolson, Douglas Bush, Arthur J. Carr, T. S. Eliot, Paull F. Baum, John Killham, F. E. L. Priestley, Francis Golffing, and Robert W. Hill, Jr.A Chronology, Selected Bibliography, and Index are also included.


Author Notes

Alfred Tennyson was born on August 6, 1809 in Somersby, England. He attended Trinity College in Cambridge.

Tennyson is chiefly known for his poetry, an art form that had interested him since the age of six. His best known work is the Idylls of the King. Tennyson was appointed Poet Laureate of England in 1850 and became the Baron of Aldworth and Farrington in 1883.

Tennyson was still writing his his 80s, and died on October 6, 1892 near Haslemere, England.

(Bowker Author Biography) If there were a contest for the title "greatest Victorian poet," Tennyson would in death, as in life, obtain the prize. He had the finest ear of any English poet, admitting to know the metrical value of every word in the English language except "scissors." In addition, his ability to evoke a closely rendered scene was unsurpassed. Therefore, although those who sought to attack Tennyson called him "the stupidest of the English poets," he remains the only one ennobled for his poetry.

Tennyson was born at Somersby rectory in Lincolnshire, the son of the rector there, and was educated at Louth Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge. His earliest published verse, Poems Chiefly Lyrical (1830) and Poems (1833), were considered too sentimental by many critics. Signs of future greatness could be detected in some of the poems in these collections, however. In 1842, a new volume entitled Poems was published. This work, consisting of heavily revised poems from the two earlier collections as well as many new poems, helped to establish Tennyson's fame. His masterpiece, In Memoriam (1850), crowned his fame. The work is a tribute to his close friend Arthur Henry Hallam, whose sudden death in 1833 was a crucial event in the poet's life. The year it was published he succeeded Wordsworth as poet laureate of England. Thereafter, he became tremendously popular and held the respect and admiration of the nation, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. From that point, Tennyson also became the poet of the establishment, and for the next 40 years he was the Parnassian idol whom younger poets would vainly seek to topple.

In many of his poems, including "Ulysses," "The Princess," and "Idylls of the King" (1859--1885), Tennyson trumpeted the creed of the benevolent tyrant. It was this embrace of an authoritarian universe that, as much as his versecraft, had earned him the respect of the British monarchs. His lifelong fascination with King Arthur was the inspiration for Idylls of the King, a series of 12 narrative poems published over a period of 26 years. In 1888, Tennyson chronologically arranged these 12 poems, thus depicting the full story of Arthur and his vision of the perfect state. Tennyson's last poem, "Crossing the Bar," was a 16-line lyric written while crossing from Lymington to the Isle of Wight. It was included in a collection entitled Demeter and Other Poems published in 1889. Tennyson's most characteristic form of poetry was the idyl, a poem of country life. These poems frequently take the form of dramatic reveries that tell a story. Mood is often created through the power of richly described settings. All of Tennyson's work reflects his talent for achieving fine shades of poetic expression, and his lyrics express the emotions and experiences shared by all people. His work is also notable for its heroic quality. In 1883, Tennyson was awarded the title of Baron Tennyson by Queen Victoria; his full title was Baron of Aldworth and Farringford. When he died in 1892, he was buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Tennyson's letters show almost nothing of the vividness and brilliance of his poetry, but Cecil Y. Lang and Edgar F. Shannon have been publishing them for their sidelights. More important for an understanding of Tennyson's poetry, the century-long ban on publishing the contents of Tennyson's notebooks, held by Trinity College in Cambridge, was lifted not long ago; an edition of In Memoriam, incorporating these variants, was brought out by Susan Shatto and Marion Shaw in 1982.

(Bowker Author Biography)