Spring 1953 • Vol. XV No. 2 Book ReviewsApril 1, 1953 |

Alienation a Century Ago

The Alien Vision Of Victorian Poetry by E. D. H. Johnson. Princeton University Press. $4.00. There is much writing now about Victorianism, and Professor Johnson has here a provocative book, with an interesting thesis. A literary thesis is always a simplification, and a brief report of one, like this, must simplify it still more. He examines Tennyson, Browning, and Arnold, the three last English poets to make a great impress upon a contemporary public; and his point is, chiefly, that they had to make some adaptation of their natural or early modes of verse before they found their wide audiences. Tennyson was melancholy, full of religious doubt, and mystical; his rule of success was to employ characters given to such quirks of behavior as dreams, madness, vision, and the "quest." Browning's problem was to get out of himself in another sense; his mind was given to such free play with his themes as made him past following; and his great device was dramatic monologue. (One thinks of

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