Swinburne and his gods : the roots and growth of an agnostic poetry /
Margot K. Louis.
Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.
242 p. ; 24 cm.
0773507159 :
More Details
Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.
0773507159 :
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1990-10:
Louis (University of Victoria) has written a first rate critical study of Swinburne's poetry that clarifies not only his response to Romantic poetics but also the relevance of his immersion in High Church Anglican theology. In six chapters she presents her view of Swinburne's development as a poet but always appropriately subordinates this argument to an articulation of the complex diversity of his poetic achievements. Her discussion frequently draws upon the literature written by Swinburne's immediate predecessors and contemporaries as well as upon the language of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer that so permeated his consciousness. A rewarding study, perhaps the best since J. McGann's Swinburne: An Experiment in Criticism (CH, Jun'73), this book is appropriate for graduate students, upper-division undergraduates, and general readers. Extensive bibliography. -E. F. Harden, Simon Fraser University
Review Quotes
"This is unquestionably the best study of Swinburne to appear in many years. In its depth and breadth of scholarship and in its perspicuous and often brilliant reading of the poems, it will have a strong impact on our understanding of the poet ... I thought I knew Swinburne's work extremely well, but I learned something new on almost every page." David Riede, Department of English, Ohio State University. "makes an original contribution ... in analyzing Swinburne's debt to his High Church upbringing and to his reading in French Romanticism. I have never ... seen the relation between Swinburne and Victor Hugo so thoroughly and compellingly worked out...the author's discussion of sacramental imagery and Biblical allusions in Swinburne's poetry ... convincingly show[s] that Swinburne's poetic language is saturated with his religious thought." Glen Wickers, Department of English, Bishop's University.
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Choice, October 1990
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Main Description
Swinburne and His Gods is the first serious critical analysis to examine the poet's background in the high church in the context of his work. Louis clearly shows Swinburne's fierce and intimate hostility toward the church and reveals his particular irritation with the doctrines of Newman, Keble, and Trench. In her explanation of his poetic use of sacramental imagery, especially those images connected with the Last Supper, Louis shows how Swinburne's eucharists can be murderous or erotic, aesthetic or republican. The demonic parody that characterizes Swinburne's work is shown to have developed through experimentation with neo-romantic alternatives to Christianity: first through the evocation of a quasi-sadistic pessimism, then in the embodiment of the "sun-god of Art," and, finally, as a feeble gesture toward an unknowable deity which moves elusively both within and beyond the natural world. Rather than imposing artificial unity on the poet's career, Louis presents his work as an integrated series of serious and brilliant experiments in Romantic art.

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