Chapter

TITHONUS AND THE PERFORMANCE OF MASCULINE BEAUTY

Cornelia Pearsall

in Tennyson's Rapture

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780195150544
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199871124 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150544.003.0006
 TITHONUS AND THE PERFORMANCE OF MASCULINE BEAUTY

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This chapter examines “Tithonus” in the context of Tennyson’s “Oenone,” and of his early poems representing Tithonus’s son, Memnon. In studying the phenomenon of masculine beauty in a cluster of related poems of Tennyson’s, Chapter Five also explores the problem of beauty in Tennyson’s poetics. Section one, “Trojan Aesthetics,” examines some of Tithonus’s familial, social, and literary contexts and their implications for Tennyson’s own poetic practice. Drawing on Arthur Henry Hallam’s conception of “sympathy,” as well as a range of Victorian aesthetic, poetic, and psycho-sexual theories (including Havelock Ellis’s theory of “eonism”), this chapter’s second section, “The Rapture of Tiresias,” explores the nature of identification and similitude in Tennyson’s dramatic monologue. Pearsall responds to the critical tradition of dismissing Tennyson’s poetry as “effeminate” and “ornamental,” suggesting that, through Tithonus’s efficacious speech, Tennyson demonstrates the utility of beauty.

Keywords: Tithonus; Oenone; Memnon; Arthur Henry Hallam; Havelock Ellis; Eonism; Rapture; dramatic monologue; beauty; effeminacy

Chapter.  28539 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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