British Poetry of the Eighteen-Nineties

British Poetry of the Eighteen-Nineties

British Poetry of the Eighteen-Nineties

British Poetry of the Eighteen-Nineties

Excerpt

By common consent the literature of the closing years of the Nineteenth Century has taken its name from the decade in which it was written and not from some figure or tendency that dominated the period. This is not true of any other period in English literature, and at first glance, aside from the difficulty of splitting up literature into any sort of temporal divisions, it would seem absurd to think of it as filling a compartment as neat as a decade.

Yet so far as the term interprets the mood in which writers of the Eighteen-Nineties first made themselves known to a startled public, it is correct. The spirit of the age became for a while the spirit of a decade, time-conscious beyond previous decades, uncomfortably aware that it would make some odd difference in human affairs when people could no longer begin their letters with the familiar numerals 189-, but must hail the advent of an unpredictable century with the numerals 190-. And in 1901 Queen Victoria died, as if to confirm by royal edict the scandalous report that times must change.

To this mood the writers of the Eighteen-Nineties, half humorously, half seriously, gave the name fin de siècle, as if the stark phrase, "end of the century," were inadequate to express the un-English novelty of the situation in which they found themselves. Something long taken for granted was coming to an end -- of that much they were sure; and to look upon its passing was for many of them a glance into an abyss from which they recoiled with apprehension or with forced merriment.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.