Tennyson: Ulyssean Influences and Telemachan Modulations

  • Michael Timko


Carlyle’s ‘failure’ and Tennyson’s ‘success’ represent their ‘Victorianism’. Both were concerned with making literature relevant, both wrote about subjects that dealt with the ‘signs of the times’, or the spirit of the age. Carlyle failed, assuming at the end that Ulyssean stance that marked his own recognition of his inability to communicate, to deliver his message. Tennyson succeeded, assuming that Telemachan stance that conveyed his confident belief in his own powers, his ability to communicate his concerns and ‘solutions’ to his readers. Their relationship with one another and the eventual emergence of Tennyson as the voice of the age form an interesting chapter in literary culture.


French Revolution Literary Culture Religious Doubt Social Doctrine Genuine Friendship 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Tennyson and His Friends, ed. Hallam, Lord Tennyson (London: Macmillan, 1911), p. 131—hereafter cited as THF. Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Correspondence of Emerson and Carlyle, ed. Joseph Slater (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964), p. 363; some of the spelling in the letters has been silently regularised.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See the accounts in Memoir, I, p. 225; and Elisabeth L. Cary, Tennyson: His Homes, His Friends, and His Work (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1898), pp. 77–8.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The Letters of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ed. Cecil Y. Lang and Edgar F. Shannon, Jr., vol. I (1821–50) (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), p. 281; hereafter referred to as Lang. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael Timko 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Timko
    • 1
  1. 1.City University of New YorkUSA

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