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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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Monodrama and Madness: Maud and the Shrieking of the Wainscot Mouse

Monodrama and Madness: Maud and the Shrieking of the Wainscot Mouse

Chapter:
(p.121) Chapter 4 Monodrama and Madness: Maud and the Shrieking of the Wainscot Mouse
Source:
Tennyson Echoing Wordsworth
Author(s):

Jayne Thomas

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474436878.003.0005

This chapter examines Tennyson’s Maud, published in 1855. The poem was met with sustained criticism, not least because of its ‘innovatory’ form, a ‘drama in lyrics’ as Tennyson himself terms it. Maud displays a variety of influences, including, most conspicuously, Hamlet, and a variety of metrical forms, in its attempt to render the speaker’s successive phases of passion; the latter include ballad, heroic couplet, alexandrines, and epithalamion. It has also been claimed that Maud, Tennyson’s first non-occasional poem as Laureate, is the result of an Oedipal rivalry with Wordsworth, largely as a result of his inheritance of the Laureateship in 1850. However, Wordsworth’s presence in Maud is more complex than Harold Bloom’s somewhat monolithic model would allow, creating a multiplicity of effects: some borrowings allow Tennyson to remodulate Wordsworth, allowing him to define himself in relation to his predecessor; others define him in turn, underlining the trajectory of the poem and questioning its narrative form; others allow Tennyson to address issues which the poem ostensibly avoids; yet others allow Tennyson to question his role as public poet and as poet of ‘sensation’.

Keywords:   Tennyson, Wordsworth, Maud, Drama in lyrics, Oedipal rivalry, Bloom, Public poet, Poetry of sensation, Narrative form

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