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Truncating Coleridgean Conversation and the Re-visioning of "Dover Beach"

Truncating Coleridgean Conversation and the Re-visioning of "Dover Beach" LAUREN CALDWELL Reflect too, as I cannot but do here more and more, in spite of all the nonsense some people talk, how deeply unpoetical the age and all one's surroundings are. Not unprofound, not ungrand, not unmoving:--but unpoetical.1 ver since Ruth Pitman demonstrated the corrosive influence of Victorian science on Matthew Arnold's world and its manifestation in the eroding stanzaic structure of "Dover Beach," scholarship devoted to exploring this relationship has proliferated.2 But while this trend has greatly clarified the particular scientific vision that troubles the poem, it yet remains quite clear that Arnold's relationship to science was by no means unequivocal. As early as 1942, Fred Dudley told us that Arnold, in one of his two dominant treatments of the word "science," associated it "with his favorite formula, `to see the thing as in itself it really is,' implying that it meant disinterestedness."3 In "Dover Beach," this kind of disinterestedness requires not a criticism of science but a good hard look at what has happened to the self in the world. Science, in some crucial way, does not change the world: it changes the way we see a world that has always been the way that http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Victorian Poetry West Virginia University Press

Truncating Coleridgean Conversation and the Re-visioning of "Dover Beach"

Victorian Poetry , Volume 45 (4) – Jan 3, 2008

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 West Virginia University. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1530-7190
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Abstract

LAUREN CALDWELL Reflect too, as I cannot but do here more and more, in spite of all the nonsense some people talk, how deeply unpoetical the age and all one's surroundings are. Not unprofound, not ungrand, not unmoving:--but unpoetical.1 ver since Ruth Pitman demonstrated the corrosive influence of Victorian science on Matthew Arnold's world and its manifestation in the eroding stanzaic structure of "Dover Beach," scholarship devoted to exploring this relationship has proliferated.2 But while this trend has greatly clarified the particular scientific vision that troubles the poem, it yet remains quite clear that Arnold's relationship to science was by no means unequivocal. As early as 1942, Fred Dudley told us that Arnold, in one of his two dominant treatments of the word "science," associated it "with his favorite formula, `to see the thing as in itself it really is,' implying that it meant disinterestedness."3 In "Dover Beach," this kind of disinterestedness requires not a criticism of science but a good hard look at what has happened to the self in the world. Science, in some crucial way, does not change the world: it changes the way we see a world that has always been the way that

Journal

Victorian PoetryWest Virginia University Press

Published: Jan 3, 2008

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