By Clyde K. Hyder
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Extra resources for Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage (The Collected Critical Heritage : Victorian Poets)
We have with some difficulty read through them. Mr. Swinburne has chosen two painful subjects, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and the Murder of Rosamond Clifford by Queen Eleanor. He has some literary talent, but it is decidedly not of a poetical kind. His ‘thoughts are combinations of disjointed things’—and the language in which these thoughts are expressed is painfully distorted, vague, elliptical, and bristling with harsh words. Honey and rosewater verses are, we imagine, what Mr. Swinburne holds to be quite wrong in poetry; but he has mistaken reverse of wrong for right.
The man who loved the sea passionately from childhood and who may well have been aware that scientists have thought of the sea as the mother of life might have smiled; it seems more likely that he would have concocted some picturesque phrases about procrustean theorizing and misty befuddlement by scholiasts. Since current interest in eccentricities of personality and abnormal psychology may distort the central image of a writer’s work, have some recent commentators repeated the misplaced emphasis of an earlier day?
The author seems to be mistaken in (somewhat tentatively) ascribing the translation of ‘The Pilgrims’ to Mallarmé and in accepting Lafourcade’s attribution of an article by ‘Herbert Harvey’ to Swinburne. Cf. Lang, iii, 295, note 5, and iv, 50, note 1. , which may suggest that Étienne’s article was less critical than it really was. Translated from Gosse’s quotation in his Life (Bonchurch Edition, xix, 185). As has been pointed out, Goncourt used one or two details from Maupassant’s oral statement in the characterization of an Englishman in his novel La Faustin (1882).
Algernon Swinburne: The Critical Heritage (The Collected Critical Heritage : Victorian Poets) by Clyde K. Hyder