Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam A. H. H., which “Proem” introduces, has always been considered one of Tennyson’s most important works. George O. Marshall Jr., explained in 1963 in A Tennyson Handbook, “One of the most remarkable things about In Memoriam was its popularity with Tennyson’s contemporaries. It seemed to be such a satisfactory answer to the problems of existence, especially those raised by the struggle between religion and science, that the Victorians clasped it to their bosoms to supplement the consolation offered by the Bible. This wholehearted acceptance of its teachings went from the highest to the lowest.”
Marshall’s account of the poem’s reception is at odds, however, with that of G. M. Young, in his essay “The Age of Tennyson.” Young’s essay argues that Tennyson was less a Victorian poet than a modern one, explaining:
In Memoriam was influential in extending his renown, but within limited range: many of its...
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