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Rhythm and Will in Victorian Poetry


  • Page extent: 292 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.43 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521604222 | ISBN-10: 0521604222)

In Rhythm and Will in Victorian Poetry, first published in 1999, Matthew Campbell explores the work of four Victorian poets - Tennyson, Browning, Hopkins and Hardy - as they show a consistent and innovative concern with questions of human agency and will. The Victorians saw the virtues attendant upon a strong will as central to themselves and to their culture, and Victorian poetry strove to find an aesthetic form to represent this sense of the human will. Through close study of the metre, rhyme and rhythm of a wide range of poems - including monologue, lyric and elegy - Campbell reveals how closely technical questions of poetics are related, in the work of these poets, to issues of psychology, ethics and social change. He goes on to discuss more general questions of poetics, and the implications of the achievement of the Victorian poets in a wider context, from Milton through Romanticism and into contemporary critical debate.

• Innovative study of the work of major Victorian poets • Exciting contribution to renewed interest in formalist readings of poetry • Illuminating study of important but hitherto neglected aspect of Victorian literature and culture


1. Two decisions; Part I. Rhythm and Will: 2. 'Will' and rhythm; 3. Tennyson, Browning and the absorbing soul; Part II. Monologue and Monodrama: 4. Browning and the element of action; 5. 'Tis well that I should bluster': Tennyson's monologues; Part III. Making a Will: 6. The drift of In Memoriam; 7. Incarnating elegy in The Wreck of the Deutschland; 8. The mere continuator: Thomas Hardy and the end of elegy.


'… combines alert prosodic analysis with thematic commentary, providing some of the most interesting close reading of Victorian poetry since Herbert Tucker's Tennyson and the Doom of Romanticism.' Choice

'… Rhythm and Will is essentially an innovative study, and that Campbell is operating ahead of much of the field.' Peter McDonald, Notes and Queries

'… a book that scrupulously heeds what Victorian poets actually said, and how they said it'. Victorian Poetry

'… a lively and critically intelligent book.' The Review of English Studies

'… a brilliant study … is a courageously independent-minded work of scholarship which thereby possesses an originality and integrity increasingly rare in contemporary criticism.' Tennyson Research Newsletter

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