Alfred Lord Tennyson (2)

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Alfred Lord Tennyson
1909-1892
Background
Born August 6, 1809. at Somersby
Several men in his family had mental and
physical problems: epilepsy, insanity,
excessive drinking
Tennyson’s father was abusive and violent
Cambridge
 Tennyson attended Trinity
College, Cambridge
 Invited to join The Apostles, an
undergraduate club.
 This group included his lifelong
friends.
 Most important friendship was
with Arthur Hallam. He and
Tennyson knew each other for
only four years, but their
intense friendship had a major
influence on the poet.
 Hallam’s death in 1833 when
he was only 22 lead to his best
poetry, including In Memoriam.
1830 and 1832 Poems
 In 1830, Tennyson
published Poems,
Chiefly Lyrical
 Poems (1832 and
1833) were attacked
by critics as obscure
and affected.
 Criticism kept
Tennyson from
publishing again for
another nine years.
1842 Poems
 Established
Tennyson’s career as
a writer
 This volume includes
“The Lady of Shalott,”
“The Lotus Eaters,”
and “Ulysses.”
In Memoriam
 Tennyson’s greatest
poem
 Published in 1850
 Represents his struggle
with Hallam’s death and
with the new
developments in
astronomy, biology, and
geology that were
diminishing man’s stature
in the universe.
 After publication of this
poem, Tennyson was
named Poet Laureate.
Tennyson’s Later Poetry
 Tennyson’s later poetry
follows a narrative style
 Several poems dealt with
national affairs
 By this time, Tennyson
was established as the
most popular poet of the
Victorian period. The
money from his poetry
allowed him to purchase
a house in the country
and write in seclusion.
 His appearance
enhanced his notoriety.
Idylls of the King
 Large-scale epic
poem that occupied
the second half of his
career.
 Uses the Arthurian
legend to construct a
vision of the rise and
fall of civilization.
 Tennyson’s most
extensive social
vision.
Themes in Tennyson’s Poetry
The divided self
Links external scenery to interior states of
mind.
The historical past
The mythological past
Tennyson’s personal past
Geological time and evolutionary history
Social and political concerns
Tennyson’s Reputation
Tennyson was the most popular poet in
England in his own day
He was the target of mockery by his
immediate successors, the Edwardians
and Georgians.
Today, many critics consider Tennyson to
be the greatest poet of the Victorian Age.
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