Gregory Tate

in The Poet's Mind

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659418
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191749018 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs


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The introduction presents a theoretical and historical overview of the mutual influence of poetry and psychological theory in the Victorian period. It argues that the rising popularity of psychological analysis as a subject for poetry in the mid-nineteenth century was linked to the growing prominence of psychology, particularly associationist psychology, within Victorian culture. The introduction uses readings of Tennyson's early poems, ‘The Poet's Mind’ and ‘Timbuctoo’, to examine the language used by Victorian poets to write about psychology, showing that, even before 1830, the relation between ‘mind’, ‘brain’, and ‘soul’ was a contentious issue within poetic writing. It also studies the poetic theories of Coventry Patmore and John Stuart Mill, which both affirm and challenge the centrality of psychological analysis to Victorian poetics. It closes by examining the use of contemporary poetic quotations in the writings of the psychologists Alexander Bain and G.H. Lewes.

Keywords: Victorian poetics; associationist psychology; Tennyson; Timbuctoo; Mill; Patmore; Bain; Lewes

Chapter.  9308 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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