Identity and Responsibility in the Poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson
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Seeking to understand Tennyson's poetry as the work of a man concerned with making and then living up to one of the most famous names in Victorian literature, Anna Barton offers close readings of Tennyson's major works. From his obscure beginning as 'A.T.', one of two anonymous brothers, to the height of his success, when he held the impressive title 'Alfred Lord Tennyson, DCL, Poet Laureate', the development of Tennyson's career took place in a period increasingly aware that a name could command considerable cultural capital. In the marketplace goods were sold on the strength of their brand name; in the press the battle for signed articles was fought and won; and in Victorian drawing rooms young ladies collected the autographs of family and friends and pasted them into scrap books. From his early lyrics to his Arthurian Idylls, Barton argues, the laureate's keen sense of professional identity forced him to grapple with modern concerns about the ethics of print in order to establish his own responsible poetic.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: 'of names'; 'General names' and 'small names': Tennyson's 2 juvenalia; Inherited names; Naming the dead; Anonymity and the responsible name; The commodified name; The names of old friends; Bibliography; Index.
Anna Barton is a lecturer in English at the University of Sheffield, UK.
’Barton's study is complex, deft and consistently engaging.’ Sharp News ’This is a fine, original, and thoughtful study of Tennyson... It is a peculiarly stimulating and successful analysis, written with seriousness, but also wit... this is a model of how to write a critical study of poetry in the modern academy.’ Tennyson Research Bulletin ’Through her original analytical approach, Barton foregrounds a neglected dimension of Tennyson’s poetic career. In this sense, the remarkable merit of Tennyson’s Name lies in the fact that it offers a series of stimulating ideas, thus contributing to the overall reappraisal of Tennyson’s production that we have witnessed in the last half century.’ Rivista di Studi Vittoriani 'Barton's study is a valuable source of literary insight which offers important new readings of even some of Tennyson's best-loved and most-discussed poems; and it should prove a source of further inspiration and enjoyment to both scholars and new readers, alike.' English Studies '... an excellent account of an intriguing aspect of Tennyson's life and work.' Modern Language Review