Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy

Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy

by Michael Millgate
     
 

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The testamentary acts of Michael Millgate's title are those strategies of self-protection and self-projection—textual and personal, before and after death—by which authors seek in old age to enhance posterity's view of themselves and their work. The four figures examined here in detail—Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Henry James, and Thomas

Overview

The testamentary acts of Michael Millgate's title are those strategies of self-protection and self-projection—textual and personal, before and after death—by which authors seek in old age to enhance posterity's view of themselves and their work. The four figures examined here in detail—Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Henry James, and Thomas Hardy—sought to maintain their personal privacy and control the integrity of their texts by, for example, destroying documents, writing autobiographies, revising their earlier works and supplying them with retrospective prefaces, and publishing so-called "collected" editions that omitted items they no longer wished to preserve. These and other strategies have been widely practiced by writers, but can have entirely unanticipated results, as Millgate shows. His study also examines the difficult role of such literary executors as Pen Browning, Hallam Tennyson, and Florence Hardy, called upon to exercise a delegated, hence compromised, authority. The final section of the book considers the wills and wishes of many other literary figures, from Samuel Johnson to Walt Whitman to Philip Larkin, emphasizing the importance for contemporary biographers and editors of attention to these end-games—to the often disregarded final years of writers, and to both the intentions and the consequences of their explicit and implicit testamentary acts.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Provides a fresh focus to the lives and works of these famous authors and sheds much new light on their lesser known 'collaborators.'"—Choice

"[An] absorbing study....Cogent, scholarly and intriguing."—English Literature in Transition 1880-1920

"The results of this modestly scaled but elegantly provocative book are of profit not only to Victorian and modernist scholars but to theorists of biography and autobiography."—Victorian Studies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780198183662
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/24/1995
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.66(d)

Meet the Author

University of Toronto

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