366 / VICTORIAN POETRY LINDA K. HUGHES I will revisit Tennyson's Rapture: Transformation in the Victorian Dramatic Monologue by Cornelia Pearsall (Oxford Univ. Press, April 2008) next year in tandem with Tennyson's Name: Identity and Responsibility in the Poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson, by Anna Barton (Ashgate, forthcoming November 2008). I offer a brief preview here. "Rapture," Pearsall explains, signifies at once a state of exaltation and transformation but also the possibility of seizure, violence, and rape. If, for example, Arthur Henry Hallam is the "rapt" orator of Section 87 who in turn enraptures his auditors, the past transports of Tithonus have been both erotic and spatial, the desiring goddess Aurora having removed him to heaven where he now languishes. Pearsall focuses on four dramatic monologues begun in 1833 and places them in dialogue with contemporary politics, oratory, religion, science, and sexology as well as Tennyson's other poems and his social networks. Drawing upon rhetorical and speech act theory, Pearsall argues that far from exhibiting the gratuitous utterance often linked to the dramatic monologue, Tennyson's speakers are intentional rhetors who seek to do things with words. Specifically, they seek to transform others even as they are transformed by
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Nov 28, 2008
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