Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage

By Clyde K. Hyder | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Unsigned review, London Review

4 August 1866, xiii, 130-1

In his Notes on Poems and Reviews Swinburne paid special attention to this review, which he admitted was the work of a gentleman. It appeared on the same day as the reviews by Morley and Buchanan.

From the concluding verses of Mr. Swinburne’s new volume, we infer that most, if not all, of these poems were written some years ago, when the author was very young. We hardly know whether or not to hope that this may be so. On the one hand, it would be a relief to think that possibly the diseased state of mind out of which many of them must have issued may have passed away; on the other hand, it would be an additional pain (certainly not wanted) to suppose that such corrupt and acrid thoughts could have proceeded from the very spring and blossoming of youth. For we do not know when we have read a volume so depressing and misbegotten—in many of its constituents so utterly revolting. Mr. Swinburne, in his address to Victor Hugo, speaks of having been brought up in France;1 and it would seem as if he had familiarized himself with the worst circles of Parisian life, and drenched himself in the worst creations of Parisian literature (to the exclusion of the better parts of both), until he can see scarcely anything in the world, or beyond it, but lust, bitterness, and despair. Being a poet, he sees beauty also, of necessity; and this is the one redeeming feature in what would otherwise be a carnival of ugly shapes. But even the beauty of poetic expression, of which he is so great a master, cannot hide the truly horrible substratum of a large part of the present volume. The writer seems to have taken pains to shock in the highest degree, we will not say English conventional morals, but the commonest decencies of all modern lands. For the counterpart

1 An erroneous interpretation apparently due to a hasty reading of ‘To Victor Hugo’, in which France is called the ‘sweet mother-land’.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 256

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?