Tennyson's Characters: "Strange Faces, Other Minds"
by David Goslee
University of Iowa Press, 1989
eISBN: 978-1-58729-091-6 | Cloth: 978-0-87745-246-1
Library of Congress Classification PR5589.G6 1989
Dewey Decimal Classification 821.8


Scholars since Paden have commented on the anxieties embedded in Tennyson's poetry, but this is the first study to examine them systematically. Within each poem Goslee discovers a vulnerable authorial presence threatened by some Other—a personification of divine, sexual, or natural power—which encroaches upon it from the fringes of the poem's imaginative universe. This Other is always interpreted, humanized, or conciliated by some mediating figure, yet the more effectively the mediator confronts an otherwise alien cosmos, the more alien he or she becomes to the authorial presence.

Goslee's approach toward understanding the conflict between Tennyson and the characters he creates includes elements of formalism, psychodynamics, and literary history without being narrowly confined to any one of these. His subtle, elegant reading mediates between those critics who stress authorial intention (e.g., Reed's Perception and Design) and the growing number of critics who follow E. D. H. Johnson in claiming that Tennyson wrote more subversively than he wanted to admit. This original, highly suggestive volume will be important for all Victorian scholars and literary critics.

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