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164 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 which Booth is largely focused. Had he included the major theatrical form of opera he would perhaps not have remained so blinkered. There is, after all, an argument that the most important nineteenth-century dramatists in Europe before Ibsen were Verdi and Wagner. And nothing is said about the growing importance of the American theatre. There are one or two surprising errors. Booth says men only played women's parts in pantomime or burlesque, thus overlooking, for example, Charley's Aunt. It is not correct to refer to the Barker-Vedrenne management of the Royal Court from 1904 to 1907 as 'the Stage Society seasons.' There is also some confusion over the dating of plays; sometimes the year given is that of first performance, sometimes that of publication. But the text is remarkably clean and virtually free of typographical errors (I detected one), perhaps because, as Booth claims, he is 'quite possibly the last theatre historian in the world to do my research and writing by pen.' The genial, relaxed style that results is entirely appropriate. Booth ends his book with a paean to pantomime, the sole Victorian form to survive today, 'changed but genuinely popular all over the provinces and still preserving ... Its basic Victorian structure,' and tries to persuade us that other Victorian forms are worth reviving. This seems doubtful. Those forms were the expression of attitudes to life and to the world that had their roots in a social order that has gone. Nostalgia will not bring it back, and not many of us would want it back. We do well, however, to try to understand it, and Booth's book can certainly help us to do th.at. (ALAN ANDREWS) Donald S. Hair. Tennyson's Language University of Toronto Press. vii, 198. $50.00 Adding to his earlier studies of Browning and Tennyson, Hair writes in the local critical tradition of F.E.L. Priestley and A.S.P. Woodhouse 'long ago,' not to mention Northrop Frye. The tradition focuses on the historical relation between literature and philosophical thought, the interrelation between literature and the 'history of ideas.' Hair thus writes of Tennyson's 'theory of language.' He carefully links Tennyson's poetry to the development of linguistic theory from classical origins in Aristotle and Lucretius, through the diverse eighteenth-century contributions chiefly of Berkeley, Locke, and Kant. These are largely idealist, but with an unexpected blend of the idealist and empirical in Locke. Casting his net quite wide, Hair also involves, for example, Beattie and Sir William Jones. He discusses the idealist theory of Schlegel and Coleridge in the nineteenth century. He touches deftly on the contemporary influence of Carlyle and the reaction of Ruskin, both in the same vein. He adds an appeal to our contemporaries Foucault and George HUMANITIES 165 Steiner. The historical influence was mediated through Tennyson's ambience at Cambridge, particularly 'his friendship with the Apostles,' his relations with Maurice and Trench, men with their own expositions of language. Other contemporaries influential in the same way were Whewell and Keble. The evidence for Tennyson's familiarity with the theory is thin. For example, he had 'but a gleam of Kant.' His son said he did not care for Coleridge's prose. 'There is no evidence that [he] read either Locke or Coleridge carefully.' He 'may not have known Schlegel.' Hair's references to books in Tennyson's library or that of his father are interesting, but the bibliomane asks: Because they were in his library does this mean that he read them? This nagging question remains unanswered. Hair considers chiefly Tennyson's elegiac In Memoriam, beginning with the dense resonance of 'matter-moulded forms of speech' in the central section xcv. He tries to unravel the complex allusiveness of this phrase. He treats the poem as a whole in chapter 5, the key phrase here being 'heart-affluence in discursive talk.' It was through the language of the poem and in the poem that Tennyson sought to make contact with his dead friend. He claimed for this method success. Hair observes the general movement in the poem towards synthetic, though nondogmatic faith. Hair discusses the epic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 164-165
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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