Despite (or because of) the tension and opposition between empiricism and evangelicalism, the one does not exist without the other's being actively present or dynamically near. With regard to art in particular as well as to culture in general, Friedrich von Schiller argues that Stofftrieb (material-drive) and Formtrieb (form-drive) cooperate to produce Spieltrieb (play-drive). Schiller concludes that "we have now been led to the notion of a reciprocal action between the two drives, reciprocal action of such a kind that the activity of the one gives rise to, and sets limits to, the activity of the other, and in which each in itself achieves its highest manifestation precisely by reason of the other being active."1 The dialectic / "reciprocal action" of empiricism and evangelicalism constitutes the Spieltrieb of In Memoriam. If the play of this elegy is not exactly seriousness or if the seriousness of the poem is not play, the yoke of the poem, nevertheless, is easy and the burden of the poem is light. In Memoriam regards bicultural philosophy/faith as both fully alternating and fully interdependent.
My approach differs from the perhaps too serious, perhaps too unplayful arguments for Tennyson's art as unified: "time and again," declares John R. Reed, Tennyson "exploited" a single moral design;2 his "awareness of doom," avers William R. Brashear, unequivocally integrates his work;3 and Tennyson, according to Ward Hellstrom, "consistently endorsed the choice of life over death and involvement over isolation."4 While I, too, regard Tennyson's art as sufficiently self-consistent, or at any rate well integrated, I seek, nevertheless, to cultivate nuances and to incorporate them into my own synoptic approach to In Memoriam, for I draw out the poem's synthesizing, antiphonal power of empiricism-cum-evangelicalism.
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Publication information: Book title: Anglo-American Antiphony:The Late Romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson. Contributors: Richard E. Brantley - Author. Publisher: University Press of Florida. Place of publication: Gainesville, FL. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 27.
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