NEW: Idylls of the King
New book from eNotated Classics:
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson, eNotated by Barbara Bedell
As Bedell explains in her introduction, "One could reasonably argue that after Sir Thomas Malory's "Morte d'Arthur," the best-known English version of the Arthurian legends is Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Idylls of the King." Memorable in their depth of understanding of human motivations and their evocative descriptive power, certain passages from "Guinevere" and "The Passing of Arthur" stand out in my mind as clearly as if I had read them yesterday. I continue to be drawn to this brilliant work by one of England's greatest Victorian poets who, in turn, was greatly influenced by the stories of King Arthur and the Round Table all of his life."
Tennyson's last major work was Idylls of the King, a project that occupied him for nearly 50 years from the first version of the "Morte d'Arthur" in 1835 to the publication of "Balin and Balan" in 1885, the last of the "Idylls" to be written. The first four "Idylls" were published in 1859 and the complete cycle of twelve in 1885. In Idylls of the King, Tennyson popularized the then obscure Arthurian legends and upheld the Victorian ideals of adherence to duty, commitment to one's faith, and honesty and trust in all relationships.
The honor of a peerage was conferred on Tennyson in December of 1883, and six years later, while crossing from Lymington to the Isle of Wight, Tennyson wrote "Crossing the Bar," one of the most famous English lyrics, a metaphor for death written by a man nearing the end of his life. "Twilight and evening bell,/And after that the dark!/And may there be no sadness of farewell,/When I embark" (ll.9-12). Tennyson died on October 6, 1892 with his family around him. His hand rested on a volume of Shakespeare, the last thing he had asked to see.
Of his great works, Tennyson's Idylls of the King, along with In Memoriam A.H.H., exhibit his command of form and meter, his brilliance with mood and atmosphere, his expression of a variety of themes, and finally, his insights into the human condition--all of which ensure Tennyson's stature as one of the greatest poets of the English Victorian period.
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