Elegy For An Age

Overview

In an age of radical transformation, the Victorians were caught between a vanishing past and an uncertain future. In the face of such a dizzying present, connecting with their past became for the Victorians a kind of survival strategy - this nostalgia took forms as diverse as their obsession with history and origins; the religious revivalism of the Oxford Movement; and the new Houses of Parliament, built in 1834, whose design looked longingly back to the Middle Ages.

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Overview

In an age of radical transformation, the Victorians were caught between a vanishing past and an uncertain future. In the face of such a dizzying present, connecting with their past became for the Victorians a kind of survival strategy - this nostalgia took forms as diverse as their obsession with history and origins; the religious revivalism of the Oxford Movement; and the new Houses of Parliament, built in 1834, whose design looked longingly back to the Middle Ages.

This rich and elegant work describes how the unsettled cultural climate provided fertile soil for the flourishing of elegy. John Rosenberg shows how the phenomenon of elegy pervaded the writing of the period, tracing it through the voices of individuals from Carlyle, Tennyson, Darwin and Ruskin, to Swinburne, Pater, Dickens and Hopkins. Finally, he turns from particular elegists to a common experience that touched them all - the displacement of the older idea of the earthly city as a New Jerusalem by the rise of a new image of the Victorian city as an industrial Inferno, a wasteland of sprawling towns and of rivers so polluted they caught on fire. This beautifully written meditation provides a vivid, compelling and authoritative portrait of an era that, in the face of an exhilarating and menacing present, longingly embraced the stability and comfort of a past both real and imagined.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'An inventive and spirited book, with many brilliant pages which any student of Victorian culture would do well to ponder.' —Roger Ebbatson, 'The Tennyson Research Bulletin'

 'John D Rosenberg devotes his principal energies to an exploration of the elegy as an instrument for the expression of personal loss.' —'Dickens Quarterly'

 ''Elegy for An Age' is best read as a series of intense engagements with the literary past that also constitute a retrospective of a distinguished career.' —Paul Lincoln Sawyer, 'Modern Philology'

'Recommended.' —R. E. Wiehe, emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, in ‘Choice’

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843311546
  • Publisher: Anthem Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/2000
  • Series: Anthem Nineteenth-Century Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 0.64 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

John D. Rosenberg is William Peterfield Trent Professor of English at Columbia University of New York. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including American Council of Learned Societies, Guggenheim and NEH fellowships. Among many works and editions, he has written 'The Darkening Glass, on Ruskin' (Columbia University Press, 1961); and 'Carlyle and the Burden of History' (Harvard University Press, 1985).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; Acknowledgements; 1. The Age of Elegy; 2. Carlyle: History and the Human Voice; 3. Stopping for Death: Tennyson's In Memoriam; 4. Tennyson and the Passing of Arthur; 5. Rusking's Benediction: A Reading of Fors Clavigera; 6. Water into Wine: The Miracle of Ruskin's Praeterita; 7. Mr. Darwin Collects Himself; 8. The Oxford Elegists: Newman, Arnold, Hopkins; 9. Swinburne and the Ravages of Time; 10. Walter Pater and the Art of Evanescence; 11. Varieties of Infernal Experience: The Fall of the City in Victorian Literature; Notes; Bibliography; Index

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