Algernon Charles Swinburne Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)
0111201590-Swinburne.jpg Algernon Charles Swinburne (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Algernon Charles Swinburne is best known as a poet, though he also wrote literary criticism and fiction. His drama must be considered a part of his poetic output as it is written exclusively in verse, the bulk of it in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter). His poetic drama is among his least distinguished work and shares many of the shortcomings of his nondramatic poetry: overdecoration, excessive use of alliteration, and an uneasy tension between vulgarity and pomposity. Conversely, the best passages in his plays reveal the brilliancies that ensure him a place among the best of the late Victorian poets: a remarkable verbal facility and an equally remarkable capacity for metric innovation.

Swinburne is generally classified among the Pre-Raphaelite poets and painters of the latter third of the nineteenth century. Along with his friends and associates Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, and Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Swinburne was committed to a theory of art that rebelled against the smugness and prudishness of Victorian England by insisting that art must be considered on its own terms, quite apart from any moral value it might possess. Swinburne was a latecomer to the so-called Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood , a group of writers and painters whose founding members included the painters Holman Hunt and Sir John Everett Millais. The Pre-Raphaelites took their name from an aesthetic theory propounded by the essayist John Ruskin . Simply stated, the idea...

(The entire section is 487 words.)