Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics

By Isobel Armstrong | Go to book overview

NOTES

INTRODUCTION: REREADING VICTORIAN POETRY
1
Michel Foucault makes a critique of continuous ‘genetic’ history in his foreword to the English edition of The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (1966), London and New York, 1974. ‘It was not my intention, on the basis of a particular type of knowledge or body of ideas, to draw up a picture of a period, or to reconstitute the spirit of a century’ (x). Such a history ignores ‘the implicit philosophies…the unformulated thematics…the rules of formation’ of knowledge which were not always consciously understood by those who were living at the time (xi). ‘Archaeology’ abandons the notion of ‘genesis’ and ‘progress’ and adopts instead a procedure for looking at ‘unformulated thematics’ which considers ‘widely different theories and objects of study’ (xi).
2
The Tennyson joke is given to Stephen Daedelus in the ‘Proteus’ section of Ulysses (1922) and Tennyson reappears in ‘Circe’. Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography (1933) describes the onset of Victorianism as a morbid condition in chapter 5.
3
T. S. Eliot, ‘The Metaphysical poets’, Selected Essays, 3rd edn, London, 1951, 288.
4
Raymond Williams, Culture and Society, 1780-1950, London, 1958.
5
The new wave of influential feminist writing on the nineteenth-century novel in the late 1970s is represented by Elaine Showalter, A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing, Princeton, N.J., 1977.
6
Illustrative of the preoccupation with Romantic poetry among deconstructionist critics is the collection of essays by Harold Bloom, Paul De Man, Jacques Derrida, Geoffrey Hartman and J. Hillis Miller, Deconstruction and Criticism, London, 1979.
7
See ‘On some motifs in Baudelaire’, Illuminations (1955), London, 1973, 157-67.
8
Essay on Shelley (1852), Robert Browning: The Poems, John Pettigrew, Thomas J. Collins, eds, 2 vols, New Haven and London, 1981, I, 999-1013:1001.
9
Substantial biographical work has appeared on Tennyson and Browning. In particular see, for instance, Robert Bernard Martin, Tennyson, The Unquiet Heart, London, 1980; William Irvine and Park Honan, The Book, the Ring, and the Poet, London, Sydney and Toronto, 1974. John Maynard, Browning’s Youth, Cambridge, Mass., 1977.
10
Lionel Trilling, Matthew Arnold, London, 1939.
11
Foucault, The Order of Things, xx. ‘Order is, at one and the same time, that which is given in things as their inner law, the hidden network which determines the way they confront one another, and also that which has no existence except by the grid created by a glance, an examination, a language.’
12
Fifteen years after his disparaging comments on Tennyson, T. S. Eliot came

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