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Voice and Reception in Tennyson, Browning, and Other Victorian Poets

DAWSON, CLARA,HELEN,MARY (2012) Voice and Reception in Tennyson, Browning, and Other Victorian Poets. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The thesis examines the relationship of Tennyson, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold and Arthur Clough with their audiences. The intersection between readers conceived by addresses within poetic texts and historical readers who reviewed and commented on these works is, I argue, fundamental to an understanding of the literary climate of the nineteenth century. Using techniques associated with new formalism, the thesis seeks to expand our understanding of the relationship between aesthetic impulses and historical and social pressures. It examines the poetry’s self-consciousness towards its readers, and uses the responses of historical readers to situate patterns within Victorian poetry in a literary historical context.

The introduction provides a background to the literary historical context within which my thesis operates, and sets out the content of each chapter. The first two chapters explore the early poetry of Tennyson and Robert Browning alongside their reviews and contemporary essays on poetic theory, arguing that their singular poetic voices develop through their conception and depiction of a readership. The next two chapters, on Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Browning’s Men and Women, continue to explore an often conflicted relationship between these two poets and their readership. A chapter on Arnold and Clough presents a counterpoint to Tennyson and Browning, focusing on the 1850s. I finish with two chapters on Tennyson’s Maud and Browning’s The Ring and the Book, exploring how Tennyson and Browning re-negotiate relationships with their readers through the dramatic medium.

In my discussion of each poet, I examine the mixture of reciprocity and resistance towards their reviewers. The tension between the poets’ sense of responsibility towards their audience and their own aesthetic desires is a source of creativity: even through their resistance to the demands of their audience, their poetry is unavoidably shaped by those readers.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Victorian poetry, nineteenth century poetry, nineteenth century periodicals, Tennyson, Browning, Victorian reviewers
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:30 Nov 2012 15:28

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