Lyricism and Voiced Spaces in Tennyson’s ‘Maud’


Tennyson’s ‘monodrama’ has often been approached by critics as a choral text: one which is usually seen as a synergistic challenge to the Victorian singular self. What is less explored are its other conversations with the ideas of place, and its use of setting and location for its fractured conceptualization of selfhood. It is an unsettling poem about an unsettled individual, and part of its strangeness comes from its localizations of the tribulations of its narrator. Like In Memoriam, which in great part shaped the expectations of Tennyson’s audience toward the tenor and scope of the lyricism for which he became so famous, Maud explores the psychological and the geographical components of anguish, but unlike that great work of mourning for Hallam, resolution and catharsis are not available, or accessible, through the act of mourning alone. Part of the reason for this is the jarring – for some contemporary readers, confounding – use of place and setting in the poem. One approach to reading Tennyson’s engagement with the settings of his monodramatic voices is to consider them in the light of Foucauldian heterotopias, and to ask whether the narrator of the poem is in fact being placed and unplaced by the forces which underlie the text and its great challenges both to our conceptions of what resolution and catharsis are supposed to be, and to the Victorian post-Romantic lyric.

Author Information
Neil Conway, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2023
Stream: Literature

This paper is part of the KAMC2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Conway N. (2023) Lyricism and Voiced Spaces in Tennyson’s ‘Maud’ ISSN: 2436-0503 – The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture 2023: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon