The Figure of Music in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Figure of Music in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry

1st Edition

Edited by Phyllis Weliver


288 pages

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How was music depicted in and mediated through Romantic and Victorian poetry? This is the central question that this specially commissioned volume of essays sets out to explore in order to understand better music's place and its significance in nineteenth-century British culture. Analysing how music took part in and commented on a wide range of scientific, literary, and cultural discourses, the book expands our knowledge of how music was central to the nineteenth-century imagination. Like its companion volume, The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction (Ashgate, 2004) edited by Sophie Fuller and Nicky Losseff, this book provides a meeting place for literary studies and musicology, with contributions by scholars situated in each field. Areas investigated in these essays include the Romantic interest in national musical traditions; the figure of the Eolian harp in the poetry of Coleridge and Shelley; the recurring theme of music in Blake's verse; settings of Tennyson by Parry and Elgar that demonstrate how literary representations of musical ideas are refigured in music; George Eliot's use of music in her poetry to explore literary and philosophical themes; music in the verse of Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; the personification of lyric (Sappho) in a song cycle by Granville and Helen Bantock; and music and sexual identity in the poetry of Wilde, Symons, Michael Field, Beardsley, Gray and Davidson.


’Ashgate are ahead of the field in studies of nineteenth-century music, and this is a valuable addition to their cross-disciplinary list… [the] volume is […] a significant one, stimulating, and wide-ranging. Its distinction lies chiefly in the freshness of its topic and the articulation of methods through which that topic can be discussed. The most accomplished of its essays will set standards against which future considerations of this subject will be measured.’ Music and Letters ’Phyllis Weliver's collection, new to Ashgate's 'Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain' series, deserves praise for its breadth, balance, and depth… All of the essays are meticulously researched and carefully argued… a stimulating and solid volume. Those with an interest in nineteenth-century British music, or connection between music and literature, will find much to ponder here.’ NABMSA Newsletter

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Scotch drink & Irish harps: mediations of the national air, Celeste Langan; 'Suspended' sense in Alastor: Shelley's musical trope and 18th-century medical discourse, Kimiyo Ogawa; On music framed: the Eolian harp in romantic writing, Susan Bernstein; Music and inspiration in Blake's poetry, John Hughes; 'Music their larger soul': George Eliot's 'The Legend of Jubal' and Victorian musicality, Ruth A. Solie; Musical reactions to Tennyson: reformulating musical imagery in 'The Lotos-Eaters', Michael Allis; 'Monna Innominata' and Christina Rossetti's audible unhappiness, Yeo Wei Wei; The 'silent song' of D.G. Rossetti's The House of Life, Phyllis Weliver; 'The Music Spoke for Us': music and sexuality in fin-de-siècle poetry, Emma Sutton; Sappho recomposed: a song cycle by Granville and Helen Bantock, Yopie Prins; Index.

About the Editor

Phyllis Weliver is Assistant Professor of English at Saint Louis University, USA

About the Series

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

So much of our ‘common’ knowledge of music in nineteenth-century Britain is bound up with received ideas. This series disputes their validity through research critically reassessing our perceptions of the period. Volumes in the series cover wide-ranging areas such as composers and composition; conductors, management and entrepreneurship; performers and performing; music criticism and the press; concert venues and promoters; church music and music theology; repertoire, genre, analysis and theory; instruments and technology; music education and pedagogy; publishing, printing and book selling; reception, historiography and biography; women and music; masculinity and music; gender and sexuality; domestic music-making; empire, orientalism and exoticism; and music in literature, poetry, theatre and dance.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General