Camelot in the Nineteenth Century: Arthurian Characters in the Poems of Tennyson, Arnold, Morris, and Swinburne

By Laura Cooner Lambdin; Robert Thomas Lambdin | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Alfred Tennyson

The popularization of the Arthurian legends in the nineteenth century can be credited mostly to Alfred Tennyson's versions of them. Malory vast Le Morte Darthur with its archaic language and style of narration was too daunting for most readers; far more accessible was Tennyson's abridged and reworked version in Idylls of the King, which was first published in its entirety in 1891. Tennyson began giving his readership parts of his more palatable, Victorianized edition as early as 1832 with The Lady of Shalott."

Tennyson's work on Arthurian subjects progressed steadily for the next sixty years: after the death of his friend Arthur H. Hallam, he wrote Morte d'Arthur in 1833-34. This poem was subsequently incorporated into The Passing of Arthur," the last of the Idylls. Merlin and Vivien was written in 1855-56, followed by Enid and Enid and Geraint." The first four Idylls were published in 1859 as Enid," Vivien," Elaine," and Guinevere," and these became about one-half of the finished version. In 1869 Tennyson published The Coming of Arthur," The Holy Grail," Palleas and Ettarre," and The Passing of Arthur." In 1871 The Last Tournament was published and later reprinted with Gareth and Lynette in 1872. Balin and Balan was written in 1872-74, but was not published until 1885. public response was enormous, sequence was not printed together until 1891.

Tennyson's reworking of Malory shows an important shift in moral emphasis. Malory allows many factors to dissolve Arthur's court, especially the knights' departure on the Grail Quest, but

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Camelot in the Nineteenth Century: Arthurian Characters in the Poems of Tennyson, Arnold, Morris, and Swinburne
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of World Literature ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter 1 Arthurian Legends: Origins to the Nineteenth Century 1
  • Notes 11
  • Chapter 2 Alfred Tennyson 13
  • Notes 47
  • Chapter 3 Matthew Arnold 51
  • Notes 68
  • Chapter 4 William Morris 71
  • Notes 103
  • Chapter 5 Algernon Swinburne 107
  • Notes 139
  • Chapter 6 Final Remarks 143
  • Selected Bibliography 147
  • Index 155
  • About the Authors *
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