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E. C. Stedman and the Invention of Victorian Poetry

E. C. Stedman and the Invention of Victorian Poetry MICHAEL COHEN RITICS HAVE LONG DESPISED "THE GENTEEL TRADITION" OF THE AMERICAN nineteenth century. According to the vast majority of American literary histories written since 1915 (when Van Wyck Brooks published his polemic America's Coming of Age), the genteel tradition (and nineteenth-century America more generally) derived its poetic norms and ideals from the forms, imagery, and language of foreign sources, and it expressed a sentimental, bourgeois ideology at odds with the subversive work of truly great American writers. Only after the liberating Modernist revolution of the early twentieth century would America have its own poetic tradition. As Andrew DuBois and Frank Lentricchia tell the story, "to many appreciative American readers at the end of the nineteenth century," the genteel writers were synonymous with poetry. Other readers--Eliot, Frost, and especially Pound among them--saw things differently, saw these displaced late Victorians, this genteel cabal, filling the day's major magazines of culture, saw these fat old hens styling themselves as wise old owls . . . saw these men squatting out the inadequate eggs of the day, their boring poems. Against this intolerable situation, the modernists made their attack. When the feathers finally settled, a handful of expatriates and the scattered http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Victorian Poetry West Virginia University Press

E. C. Stedman and the Invention of Victorian Poetry

Victorian Poetry , Volume 43 (2) – Jan 8, 2005

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 West Virginia University.
ISSN
1530-7190
Publisher site
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Abstract

MICHAEL COHEN RITICS HAVE LONG DESPISED "THE GENTEEL TRADITION" OF THE AMERICAN nineteenth century. According to the vast majority of American literary histories written since 1915 (when Van Wyck Brooks published his polemic America's Coming of Age), the genteel tradition (and nineteenth-century America more generally) derived its poetic norms and ideals from the forms, imagery, and language of foreign sources, and it expressed a sentimental, bourgeois ideology at odds with the subversive work of truly great American writers. Only after the liberating Modernist revolution of the early twentieth century would America have its own poetic tradition. As Andrew DuBois and Frank Lentricchia tell the story, "to many appreciative American readers at the end of the nineteenth century," the genteel writers were synonymous with poetry. Other readers--Eliot, Frost, and especially Pound among them--saw things differently, saw these displaced late Victorians, this genteel cabal, filling the day's major magazines of culture, saw these fat old hens styling themselves as wise old owls . . . saw these men squatting out the inadequate eggs of the day, their boring poems. Against this intolerable situation, the modernists made their attack. When the feathers finally settled, a handful of expatriates and the scattered

Journal

Victorian PoetryWest Virginia University Press

Published: Jan 8, 2005

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