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Tennyson Echoing Wordsworth$
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Jayne Thomas

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474436878

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474436878.001.0001

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‘All experience is an arch’:1 Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ and the Revision of Wordsworth

‘All experience is an arch’:1 Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ and the Revision of Wordsworth

(p.52) Chapter 2 ‘All experience is an arch’:1 Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ and the Revision of Wordsworth
Tennyson Echoing Wordsworth

Jayne Thomas

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines Tennyson’s 1842 monologue, ‘Ulysses’. If Tennyson borrows from Wordsworth in ‘The Lady of Shalott’ in order to loosen the restrictive epistemology in which he has been placed through his designation as a poet of ‘sensation’, in ‘Ulysses’ his borrowings allow him to distance the Romantic lyric’s focus on self and to consolidate a ‘new’ poetic form – the dramatic monologue. The study of the Wordsworthian echoes at work in the poem draws on Sigmund Freud’s theory of mourning and melancholia. The application of Freud’s theory to the processes of borrowing at work in ‘Ulysses’ seemingly evokes Harold Bloom’s revisionary model, yet Tennyson’s ‘consumption’ of Wordsworth differentiates itself from Bloom in several ways, not least because it reveals Tennyson as seeking to re-affiliate himself with Wordsworth rather defensively protecting himself from him. Interestingly, the poem is also revising Arthur Henry Hallam’s own allusions to Wordsworth in his 1829 poem, ‘Timbuctoo’, and the second part of the chapter examines how, hearing a double echo, ‘Ulysses’ picks up Hallam’s poem’s Wordsworthian language and reworks it, exposing a little explored line of connection that exists between the two poems.

Keywords:   Tennyson, Wordsworth, ‘Ulysses’, Dramatic monologue, Freud, Bloom, Hallam, ‘Timbuctoo’

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