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90Victorian Review or any sense of pedantry. Anderson has burrowed deeply in primary material, including a number of working men's autobiographies which serve to give a sense of contemporary reaction to Ulustrated misceUanies. One is also grateful for the extremely generous selection of black and white iUustrations drawn not only from the periodicals themselves, but also from broadsides, chapbooks, pamphlets, tracts, and cheap books. This excellent and original book should be required reading for anyone interested either in Victorian cultural history or in the influential role played by periodicals in the nineteenth century. Rosemary T. Van Arsdel University ofPuget Sound Donald S. Hair. Tennyson's Language. Toronto, Buffalo, London: U of Toronto P, 1991. 198. $50.00 CDN (cloth). By Tennyson's language Donald Hair means theories about language that Tennyson was aware of and that "lie behind" his poems. This book is not a lexical or syntactic study of Tennyson's poetry, as the title might lead one to expect, but rather a descriptive account of nineteenth-century phUology and of Tennyson's relations with it. Hair finds nineteenth-century language theories divided into an empirical school, deriving from John Locke, and an idealist school deriving from Samuel Taylor Coleridge (ultimately from Kant). For Locke, words were conventional and arbitrary signs of ideas, and these ideas arise from physical sensations and from the associations that we form by reflecting upon sensation. For Coleridge, words were not signs of something else but "living powers" in themselves, sources of energy, each one of which participates in the divine Logos. In the nineteenth century Locke's empiricism became the basis of utilitarian and historicist theories of language and its origins. Coleridge's idealism was taken over by Tractarians like John Keble. But the theory that interests Hair is the synthesis of empirical and idealist notions of language devised by men associated with Cambridge University during Tennyson's years there, both members of the Apostles and young dons like William Whewell, Tennyson's tutor. Whewell recognized that there must be a real external world of physical sensations in order for the mind to exercise its shaping faculties, so idealism is modified by empiricism. Others were attracted to etymology and Reviews91 comparative grammar, and saw meanings embedded in die history of words and activated in grammatical forms. To typify this synthesis Hair employs Tennyson's phrase "matter-moulded forms of speech" from In Memoriam 95. For die utilitarian, forms of speech are simply moulded by die matter of physical sensation and have no power of their own. In the modified ideaUsm of die Apostles, forms of speech may be moulded by matter—and history—but tiiey mould our perceptions in rum. They are the powers that shape the world. The distinction depends upon emphasis—matter-moulded or matter-moulded—but die difference is more than one of degree: From a Lockeian perspective, the phrase suggests that aU words, however general or abstract, may be traced back to sense-data; that language is die arbitrary attaching of a sound to a sensation; that words picture die world outside us. From a Coleridgian perspective, the phrase also suggests the shaping power of the mind and die patterns or forms by which it makes experience intelligible. Tennyson holds together both perspectives, and die new philology with its historical and comparative study of conjugations and declensions, and its division of aU words into pronominal or organizing elements and sensational or material elements, made this double view seem almost inevitable. (38) Hair's conclusion is tiiat Tennyson's acceptance of these ideas enabled him to sustain a logocentric poetics and to write poems tiiat affirm the essential value of God, self and society. Beyond tiiat lies a further implied conclusion: contemporary critics are mistaken in problematizing the language of Tennyson's poetry. His poems erect solid structures of linguistic presence that can deflect deconstructive questioning. There are many useful things in Tennyson's Language. It provides a clear account of die language theories held by Tennyson's friends and contemporaries but does not elide differences of opinion among them. It is particularly good on die ideas tiiat inform Arthur Hallam's review of the 1830 Poems, Chiefly Lyrical...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 90-92
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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