Tennyson and the Princess: Reflections of an Age

Tennyson and the Princess: Reflections of an Age

Tennyson and the Princess: Reflections of an Age

Tennyson and the Princess: Reflections of an Age

Excerpt

The early victorian age supplies many examples of littérature engagée and of criticism favouring it. To the reader who finds pleasure in imaginatively subduing himself (as far as he can) to the spirit of the past, some of the better specimens of 'sociological' poems and novels of that period are especially attractive, for their authors clearly met considerable difficulties in making art out of social criticism; consequently such a reader can learn much of great interest about the mind of an artist and the quality of an age. The Princess is a case in point. Tennyson wrote it when at the height of his powers, yet his genius did not really find its fullest release in treating contemporary problems. In one sense it is a perfect example of an encounter between a man of marked talents and a moment which was inimical to their expression. It is that encounter which is my theme. By tracing developments which took place in the two decades from his going up to Cambridge to the publication of the poem I shall try to suggest how it came about that The Princess took the strange form it did.

To sketch these developments I shall trespass in the fields of historians and others who possess seignorial rights in their subjects. If in so doing I wander from the true path, it will be from ignorance and not from evil intent. Poets do not very often address themselves to specific reforms, but Tennyson in The Princess departed from the rule, and I can only plead that

syn I have bigonne
Myn auctor shall I folwen if I konne.

To many writers on Tennyson and topics relating to his poem I am much indebted, and I acknowledge my obligations generally here and individually in footnotes throughout the text. I wish particularly to express my thanks for help received at various stages in the writing of this book to Professor Geoffrey Tillotson, Mrs. Kathleen Tillotson, Sir Charles Tennyson . . .

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.