Victorian Poetry Now: Poets, Poems and Poetics
August 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
- Valentine Cunningham exhibits encyclopedic knowledge of the poetry produced in this period and offers dazzling close readings of a number of well-known poems
- Draws on the work of major Victorian poets and their works as well as many of the less well-known poets and poems
- Reads poems and poets in the light of both Victorian and modern critical concerns
- Places poetry in its personal, aesthetic, historical, and ideological context
- Organized in terms of the Victorian anxieties of self, body, and melancholy
- Argues that rhyming/repetition is the major formal feature of Victorian poetry
- Highlights the Victorian obsession with small subjects in small poems
- Shows how Victorian poetry attempts to engage with the modern subject and how its modernity segues into modernism and postmodernism
1. Words, words, words and more words.
3. Making noise/noising truths.
4. These rhyming/repeating games are serious.
Part II: Contents and Discontents of the Forms.
7. Fleshly feelings.
8. Mourning and melancholia.
9. Modernizing the subject.
10. Victorian modernismus.
“Victorian Poetry Now is a brilliant book, and a challenging, engaging and stimulating read. It looks at a rich range of themes expressed by the poets, and makes one aware, if one was not aware already, that the poetry is a formidable cultural achievement.” (Essays in Criticism, 16 July 2013)
"Valentine Cunningham has here provided us with a large volume, over 1,000 pages, surveying exhaustively and originally the entire field of Victorian poetry, both great and small. It is an impressive task excellently accomplished. Based essentially on precise and meticulous Oxford scholarship, this volume has an excellent introduction, and a formidable bibliography and index. Thus it is a permanent and invaluable guide to its subject, reliable and comprehensive. It must continue to serve that purpose probably for the rest of the twenty-first century." (Reference Reviews)"An immense book both in scope and spirit, as encompassing and enterprising as the great literature it celebrates. Valentine Cunningham is master equally of big sweep and minute particular, and his book is a triumph of what Coleridge called 'genial criticism'."
—Seamus Perry, Balliol College, Oxford
"Whole-field study is rare in literary scholarship because it demands so much of the single scholar. Victorian Poetry Now contains material for ten monographs. Valentine Cunningham has immersed himself in one of the richest--and least explored--areas of our literary heritage and has emerged to tell us about it, concisely and, from time to time, with a touch of mischief. He takes Victorian Poetry out of history and makes it necessary to read, and relish, now. To few works of literary history and commentary can one add the injunction 'enjoy!'. This is one."
—John Sutherland, University College, London