Victorian Metaphors for Poetry
Gibson, Mary Ellis, Nineteenth-Century Prose
W. David Shaw. The Lucid Veil: Poetic Truth in the Victorian Age. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1987. 311 pp.
Taking his title from Tennyson's In Memoriam, David Shaw focuses his examination of Victorian poetics and philosophy on a series of epistemological metaphors. Shaw's work in his influential studies of Tennyson's Style and Browning's Dialectical Temper gives him a detailed and allusive command of the standard Victorian poetic canon. In this more comprehensive study, Shaw discusses various Victorian metaphors for poetry beginning with poetry as a mirror of nature. This understanding of poetry, Shaw argues, quickly gave way to metaphors likening poetry first to a darkening glass, then to a lucid veil through which some higher reality is glimpsed. In the mid to late Victorian period poetry was characterized as a lucid veil concealing at least as much as it reveals, and finally as a "kaleidoscope of presentational forms."
In his examination of these and other metaphors, Shaw groups critical, philosophical and poetic texts, reading them against each other, sometimes to trace influences, more often to suggest analogous approaches to questions of language, knowledge, and art. As the dominant metaphor of the study suggests, Shaw is most keenly interested in poetry's transcendent claims. He explores in Victorian poetics the aspiration toward spiritual truth that Tennyson even in his deepest doubt believed to be "behind the veil, behind the veil." Shaw declares at …
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Publication information: Article title: Victorian Metaphors for Poetry. Contributors: Gibson, Mary Ellis - Author. Journal title: Nineteenth-Century Prose. Volume: 16. Issue: 1 Publication date: Winter 1988. Page number: 81+. © 2001 Nineteenth-Century Prose. COPYRIGHT 1988 Gale Group.
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