Dandies and Desert Saints: Styles of Victorian Masculinity

By James Eli Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Imagining the Science of
Renunciation: Manhood and
Abasement in Kingsley
and Tennyson

Political economy, the science of wealth, is therefore, at the same time, the science of renunciation.... The science of a marvelous industry is the science of asceticism ...

Karl Marx, " Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts" ( 1844)

It is all right. All under rule.

Charles Kingsley on his deathbed ( 1875)

In the Saturday Review in 1858, a glowing review of Charles Kingsley's Andromeda and Other Poems opened with a tribute to "the great Apostle of the Flesh" and went on to praise the poem as "the production of one who enters as heartily into what is rather priggishly called the 'sensuousness' of the Homeric life as Walter Scott does into chivalry." The poem needed only to be compared with "Simeon Stylites on his pillar," the reviewer urged, to see the "distinctive philosophy of Mr. Kingsley and his school": "The spirit of the young gentleman described in the lines we have quoted could hardly be very anxious to be released from its carnal prison-house ..." (" Kingsley Andromeda'' 594). Flippant as it might seem, the reviewer's exuberance calls attention to the important personal and cultural history sketched in the previous chapter:

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