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Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Matthew Ingleby and Matthew P. M. Kerr

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474435734

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474435734.001.0001

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Tennyson’s ‘Sea Dreams’: Coastal and Fiscal Boundaries

Tennyson’s ‘Sea Dreams’: Coastal and Fiscal Boundaries

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter 7 Tennyson’s ‘Sea Dreams’: Coastal and Fiscal Boundaries
Source:
Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century
Author(s):

Roger Ebbatson

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474435734.003.0008

Alfred Tennyson’s ‘Sea Dreams’ (1860) offers a lyrical and dramatic re-inflection of an ill-fated investment made by the poet in the early 1840s. In this chapter, Tennyson’s poem, which frames a marital colloquy about financial misdealings with a resonant evocation of coastal scenery, is contextualised by reference to the nineteenth-century literary figure of the ‘confidence man’. The sociological ‘philosophy of money’ propounded by Georg Simmel and the Benjaminian concept of ‘caesura’ inflect this reading, while attention is also paid to the poem’s evocation of place as resonating with Tennyson’s response to the local coastal features of the Isle of Wight. This neglected text, the author suggests, is marked by what Angela Leighton more generally characterises as those Tennysonian ‘drowning places, of cavern and stream, of rumours, moans and melodies’ – places which offer a potent counterpoint to the poem’s overall theme of fiscal impropriety and compassionate forgiveness.

Keywords:   Alfred Lord Tennyson, Victorian poetry, Finance, Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Isle of Wight

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