'I am inclined to think that we want new forms ...as well as thoughts', confessed Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning in 1845. The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry provides a closely-read appreciation of the vibrancy and variety of Victorian poetic forms, and attends to poems as both shaped and shaping forces. The volume is divided into four main sections. The first section on 'Form' looks at a few central innovations and engagements-'Rhythm', 'Beat', 'Address', 'Rhyme', 'Diction', 'Syntax', and 'Story'. The second section, 'Literary Landscapes', examines the traditions and writers (from classical times to the present day) that influence and take their bearings from Victorian poets. The third section provides 'Readings' of twenty-three poets by concentrating on particular poems or collections of poems, offering focused, nuanced engagements with the pleasures and challenges offered by particular styles of thinking and writing.
The final section, 'The Place of Poetry', conceives and explores 'place' in a range of ways in order to situate Victorian poetry within broader contexts and discussions: the places in which poems were encountered; the poetic representation and embodiment of various sites and spaces; the location of the 'Victorian' alongside other territories and nationalities; and debates about the place - and displacement - of poetry in Victorian society. This Handbook is designed to be not only an essential resource for those interested in Victorian poetry and poetics, but also a landmark publication-provocative, seminal volume that will offer a lasting contribution to future studies in the area.
Matthew Bevis is a University Lecturer and Fellow in English at Keble College, Oxford. He is the author of The Art of Eloquence: Byron, Dickens, Tennyson, Joyce (OUP, 2007) and Comedy: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2012). He is the editor of Some Versions of Empson (OUP, 2007).
FORM; LITERARY LANDSCAPES; READINGS; THE PLACE OF POETRY