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Victorian Poetry Now: Poets, Poems and Poetics



Victorian Poetry Now: Poets, Poems and Poetics

Valentine Cunningham

ISBN: 978-0-631-20826-6 August 2011 Wiley-Blackwell 552 Pages


This book is the definitive guide to Victorian poetry, which its author approaches in the light of modern critical concerns and contemporary contexts.
  • 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

Preface vi

Part I: So Far as The Words Are Concerned 1

1 Words, Words, Words and More Words 3

2 Rhyming/Repeating 55

3 Making Noise/Noising Truths 73

4 These Rhyming/Repeating Games Are Serious 108

Part II: Contents and Discontents of The Forms 149

5 Down-Sizing 151

6 Selving 189

7 Fleshly Feelings 259

8 Mourning and Melancholia 323

9 Modernizing The Subject 409

10 Victorian Modernismus 463

Index 504

"Cunningham surveys Victorian poetry’s variety, its compelling rhythms and prosody, its linguistics and narrativity, its hermeneutics and histories, with a spontaneity of style that never ceases to refresh and enliven its reader.  One feels transported to the lecture hall while reading Cunningham’s prose, addressed by a passionate and lively speaker who deftly moves between content and form from a foundation of vast knowledge about the period’s religious, medical, criminological, political, social, and aesthetic discourses and stories." (Journal of Victorian Culture Online, June 2012)

"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 CriticismJuly 2013)

"An extraordinary book ... offers much to critics and students looking for strong and contentious readings of a great variety of poems ... a book that says a very great deal indeed." (Tennyson Research Bulletin, 2013)