"All Is Well": Victorian Mourning Aesthetics and the Poetics of Consolation

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Title: "All Is Well": Victorian Mourning Aesthetics and the Poetics of Consolation
Author: Holloway, Tamara C.
Abstract: In this study, I examine the various techniques used by poets to provide consolation. With Tennyson's In Memoriam, I explore the relationship between formal and thematic consolation, i.e., the ways in which the use of formal elements of the poem, particularly rhyme scheme, is an attempt by the poet to attain and offer consolation. Early in his laureateship after the Duke of Wellington's funeral, Tennyson wrote "Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington," but this poem failed to meet his reading audience`s needs, as did the first major work published after Tennyson was named Poet Laureate: Maud. I argue that form and theme are as inextricably linked in Maud as they are in In Memoriam, and in many ways, Maud revises the type of mourning exhibited in In Memoriam. Later, I examine in greater detail the hallmarks of Victorian mourning. Although most Victorians did not mourn for as long or as excessively as Queen Victoria, the form her mourning took certainly is worth discussion. I argue that we can read Tennyson's "Dedication" to Idylls of the King and his "To the Mourners" as Victorian funeral sermons, each of which offers explicit (and at times, contradictory) advice to the Queen on how to mourn. Finally, I discuss the reactions to Tennyson's death in the popular press. Analyzing biographical accounts, letters, and memorial poems, I argue that Tennyson and his family were invested in the idea of "the good death"; Tennyson needed to die as he had lived--as the great Laureate.
Description: viii, 214 p.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1794/12141
Date: 2011-12

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