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Showing posts from February, 2017

Tennyson: Times of Mourning, Hallowed Spaces

A little belated, but last week I had two very good seminars on Tennyson's In Memoriam. I suppose it is testament to the slow, sad richness of this text that whilst every discussion of it tends to hit some predictable beats, it is also an endlessly reinventable text. (See, for instance, a blog from a 2014 seminar here.) You never get bored teaching it - or at least I don't.

One thing I very much liked was a discussion of cyclical time in the text. To some extent I set this up by deliberately picking out the two anniversary stanzas (LXXII and XCIX) as objects for a class exercise, but I think even before this we were broaching the idea that the poet shapes his grief into cycles, where the forward progress of consolation is marked, almost by definition, by also referring back and remembering. Whether articulated through calendrical or seasonal motifs, there's a logic of mourning here. To articulate the elongated time of Tennyson's (unusually extended) elegy, each moment …