Epic and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Cambridge University Press, 2006 M06 15
In the nineteenth century, epic poetry in the Homeric style was widely seen as an ancient and anachronistic genre, yet Victorian authors worked to recreate it for the modern world. Simon Dentith explores the relationship between epic and the evolution of Britain's national identity in the nineteenth century up to the apparent demise of all notions of heroic warfare in the catastrophe of the First World War. Paradoxically, writers found equivalents of the societies which produced Homeric or Northern epics not in Europe, but on the margins of empire and among its subject peoples. Dentith considers the implications of the status of epic for a range of nineteenth-century writers, including Walter Scott, Matthew Arnold, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Morris and Rudyard Kipling. He also considers the relationship between epic poetry and the novel and discusses late nineteenth-century adventure novels, concluding with a brief survey of epic in the twentieth century.
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aesthetic ancient Andrew Lang anthology antiquity Arab archaic argument Arnold assertion atavism Aurora Leigh Bakhtin banjo barbaric bard bardic Barrack-Room Ballads Barrett Browning Barrett Browning’s battle Border Ballads Britain chapter characteristic civilisation claim conﬂict contemporary world context cultural diction difﬁculty emerges empire English epic and novel epic poem epic poetry epic primitivism epic simile epic terms equivalence Ferguson ﬁction ﬁght ﬁgure ﬁlm ﬁnd ﬁrst genres Greek Hegel heroes heroism Highland Homeric controversy idiom Iliad imitation imperial jingoism King Kipling Kipling’s language Last Minstrel Lawrence’s Macpherson’s manner martial Middlemarch mode modern world Moretti Morris Morris’s moss-trooping narrative national epic neoclassical nevertheless Newman Nibelungenlied nineteenth century novelistic Ossian passage past pastiche poet poetic popular poetry possible pre-modern present primary epic reader reproduce romance savage Scott seeks sense signiﬁcant Sigurd the Volsung social song speciﬁc story sufﬁciently suggests Tennyson tradition translation verse writing Zulu