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"A perfect form in perfect rest": spellbinding narratives and Tennyson's "Day Dream".


Victorian reflections upon temporality often conjure up metaphors of enchantment, of beguilement, of charmed sleep that threatens progress. In Past and Present, Thomas Carlyle distinguishes between "a virtual Industrial Aristocracy, as yet only half alive--spell-bound amid money-bags and ledgers; and an actual idle aristocracy seemingly near dead in somnolent delusions" (1117). He implores his "Princes of Industry" to wake: "[i]t is you who are already half-alive, whom I will welcome into life; whom I conjure in God's name to shake off your enchanted sleep and live wholly!" (1118) In casting himself as author-prince, giving the kiss of life to the capitalists, Carlyle refers overtly to the narrative of "Sleeping Beauty," a fairy tale that, this essay will argue, not only inhabited, but also shaped the diverse Victorian discourses of political economy, architecture, philosophy, and poetry. In Stones of Venice, for example, John Ruskin posits: "[i]t is that strange disquietude of the gothic spirit that is its greatness, that restlessness of the dreaming mind ... and it can neither rest in, nor from, its labour, but must pass on, sleeplessly, until its love of change shall be pacified forever in the change that must come alike on the them that wake and them that sleep" (181). Ruskin imagines an historical age as a mind that dreams but paradoxically must not sleep if it is to enact change, and thus, like Carlyle, renders "sleep" as a narcotic "quietude" that must be shaken off. Still later in the century, the narrator of George Eliot's Theophrastus Such, though "determined ... not to grumble at the age in which I happen to have been born" nevertheless confesses to "an inborn beguilement which carries my affection and regret continually into an imagined past" (34). Here nostalgia casts a charm so powerful that it can cause one to "lose all sense of moral proportion unless I keep alive a stronger attachment to what is near" (34-35). These authors, then, identify progress as a wakeful, restless, moral, linear, temporal journey forward. Let us not forget, however, that they conjure themselves into an imaginary past to make these very progressive arguments.

By contrast, Gerard Manley Hopkins's undated, unfinished sonnet "To His Watch" renders the forward motion of time itself as an unbreakable spell:
   Mortal my mate, bearing my rock-a-heart
   Warm beat with cold beat company, shall I
   Earlier or you fail at our force, and lie
   The ruins of, rifled, once a world of art?

   The telling time our task is; time's some part,
   Not all, but we were framed to fail and die-
   One spell and well that one. There, ah thereby
   Is comfort's carol of all or woe's worst smart. (1-8)

The title gives us to think that a human speaker addresses his timepiece. However, though the poem compares the "warm beat" of the human heart with the "cold beat" of the clock, "mortal my mate bearing my rock-a-heart" (emphasis added) identifies the timepiece as the speaker, guardian over its human "watch." Time binds the machine to the machine who fashioned it; there is but "one spell" and this suggests both the brevity of mortal life and the community of all things governed by time. Finally, the verse's very fragmentation proleptically points to the poet's body and the poem: both spell-bound, metered worlds of art.

Whether their authors believe that literary composition orders time or is ordered by it, these passages read time and social progress at least obliquely through the spells and slumbers of "Sleeping Beauty" This essay claims that "Sleeping Beauty" provided Victorian literary artists with a narrative of temporality in all senses of the word--"temporal" means the condition of being temporary; it relates to material acquisition; it refers to structures situated in the temples (like the temporal artery); it describes our placement in time. To demonstrate this argument, I shall turn to Alfred Tennyson's sadly neglected early poem "The Day Dream." Although "Day Dream" is virtually absent from criticism, except in stray single sentences, the primary adjectives of which are words like "frivolous" and "juvenile" (1) the poem is not juvenilia: it was composed over the same years as Tennyson's other sleeping figure poems, "The Kraken" "Tithonus," "The Epic" and the first book of In Memoriam; "Day Dream" alone of these has escaped significant critical attention. (2) This very silence is important, for it reflects a larger tendency to reduce fairy tales to the immaterial, which is to say the ineffable, intangible, untouchable, but for that reason the insubstantial, impertinent. In other words, many critics have decided, Victorians loved the fairy tale for its universal, nostalgic, primitive appeal. (3)

This conclusion is entirely understandable given that Victorians themselves fostered it. Many nineteenth-century artists figured fairy tales as a developmental stage, and, drawing upon the Romantic model of childhood, imagined our bereavement of fairy tales to be necessary to artistic development. For instance, in Book V of The Prelude, Wordsworth praises fairy tales, but declines to draw upon them:
   It might have well beseemed me to repeat
   Some simply fashioned tale, to tell again
   In slender accents of sweet Verse some tale
   That did bewitch me then and soothes me now. (175-79)

Though it "might have well beseemed" Wordsworth to "repeat / Some simply fashioned tale," he evidently concludes that "to tell again" is too "slender" a task for his Prelude. As Vladimir Propp would later propose: "Folklore is the womb of literature ... Folklore is the prehistory of literature ... Literature, which is born of folklore, soon abandons the mother that reared it" (14). (4) Propp's Victorian predecessors figure fairy tales as simultaneously timeless and belated (relegated to the pre-literacy of children or peasantry). (5)

As Jennifer Schacker has argued, this concept of the fairy tale presupposes a vision of bourgeois subjectivity that turns upon the oral tradition made literary: collections of folklore sold in part because the idea that the reader participates in a progressive present, one that includes literacy, sells. The paradox here of course is that drawing the fairy tale into currency makes it, not the debased remains of a childish, primitive, or feminized culture, but an actively renewable and renovating resource. Because Victorians understand fairy tales to be without authorial origin, literary artists insist that tales are there for the taking, but also fret that they exude their own originative power that pervades and precludes authored work. I want to argue that Tennyson's "Day Dream" reflects two conflicting positions: that to tell "Sleeping Beauty" is to claim the tale and then traverse it for other, worthier subjects, but also that the very act of retelling the story means it cannot be traversed, that it bursts temporal boundaries (the barriers of time but also of individual heads), and evades authorial control. (6) Thus, through this study of "The Day Dream," I aim to suggest that fairy tales cannot be denied discursive structure: they are subjects of reasoning (as distinguished from subjects of pure feeling or perception), and as such they occupied, but also determined, Victorian conversations about how narrative is shaped, and by whom.


Our most familiar renditions of the "Sleeping Beauty" tale cite the princess's hundred-year trance, the sleeping palace around her, and the prince who breaks the briar hedge and awakens the princess with a kiss. However, these elements of the narrative (rifle included) are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century revisions to significantly more violent precursors, dating from the fourteenth century. Early versions in Catalan, French, and Italian record the rape of a girl in a coma, rather than the heroic rescue of a spellbound princess. (7) The sleep itself does not afflict the castle, and takes up very little of the tale's exposition. Not a kiss, but giving birth to twins awakens her, not a hundred years, but nine months later. Giambattista Basile's is the earliest such version that gained general English readership. It was translated into English in 1848, but editions in Italian, French, and German circulated in England prior to that date. (8) In Basile's "Sole, Luna, e Talia," a girl catches a chip of flax under her nail and falls into a swoon. An errant king discovers and has sex with the unconscious girl. Talia eventually gives birth to twins, one of whom sucks on her finger, draws out the flax chip, and wakes her mother. The king returns and takes this family back to his castle. However, the king is already married, and his jealous wife plans to slay Talia and the children and feed them to the king. Narrative focus in this story is not with the (here unspecified) length of sleep, and certainly not with the churlish king, but with the girl and her trials. The similarities between Charles Perrault's "La Belle au Bois Dormant" and "Sole, Luna, e Talia," demonstrate that Perrault knew Basile's work; but it was evidently Perrault who first lengthened the sleep to 100 years, and made it the effect of fairy enchantment rather than an unexplained coma. (9) Perrault also is the first to send the entire castle to sleep: whereas in Basile's tale, Talia's parents close up the castle and depart, in Perrault's version, the kind fairy puts the palace under a spell to keep the dormant princess company. The Grimms' "Dornroschen" resembles the first half of Perrault's tale, save for one significant detail: the Grimms' princess herself, through the very act of drifting off, causes both the realm's dormancy and the vegetative state of the castle: "in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell down upon the bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep. And this sleep extended over the whole palace" (120).

By the early nineteenth century, then, the tale's motifs had shifted. With the princess's enchantment lengthened to a century, slumber in the tale became explicitly linked to temporality in its sense of the human placement in time; moreover, sleep became something specifically feminine and blamable, a somnolence that radiates outward from the princess to infect the kingdom around her. The "rude awakening" of rape had been effaced, and re-inscribed as a valorized action: the prince fighting through the hedge to rescue the beauty from her own torpor. And in Victorian England, the tale focuses on the princess's hundred year sleep and the prince's resurrective arrival, features that serve as a representational tableau in the tale's appearances in literary and visual art. These interdependent alterations coincide with changes in the philosophies of heroism and cultural progress. Tennyson's particularly Victorian fascination with the period of sleep in the fairy tale reflects the era's emerging discourses about history and time.

Tennyson's "The Sleeping Beauty" written in 1830, initiated the fairy tale subject that would come to occupy him for over a decade. It observes a princess rapt in enduring stasis--dreamless, motionless, and quite possibly breath-less as well:
   She sleeps: her breathings are not heard
   In palace chambers far apart.
   The fragrant tresses are not stirr'd
   That lie upon her charmed heart.
   She sleeps: on either hand upswells
   The gold-fringed pillow lightly prest:
   She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells
   A perfect form in perfect rest. ("The Sleeping Beauty" 17-24)

This fragment was not included in Poems Chiefly Lyrical, which may indicate Tennyson's own uncertainty of how to categorize his brief musing upon a spell. It seems to pledge allegiance to the lady poems, those early "erotic devotions" which scholars have suggested we see as deliberately "disembodied... types" that construct "a grammar of longing" (Hood 31-32). But it also bears an odd family resemblance to "The Kraken," Tennyson's poem of the same year, which meditates upon another fantastic, dreamless sleeper. It seems that "The Sleeping Beauty" was a sketch for a longer work on time and the nature of stasis and change.

Published in 1842, "The Day Dream" grew around this fragment like the briar hedge around the princess. (10) From 1834 to 1836, Tennyson added The Sleeping Palace as well as the sections treating the prince's Arrival, Revival, and Departure with beauty. In 1837-38 he wrote a Victorian frame, the Prologue, Moral, Envoi, and Epilogue, in which a speaker addresses his friend Flora, instructing and wooing her through the "Briar Rose" tale. This expansion coincided with such works as Carlyle's Sartor Resartus (1832-33) and On Heroes (1840), and Macaulay's "Review of Southey's Colloquies" (1830); given that the literature of these years was preoccupied with narratives of, and allegories for, national and historical progress, small wonder that Tennyson did not care to leave his 1830 beauty sleeping, nor that in "The Day Dream" he figures her awakening as the rebirth of culture.

"The Day Dream" opens upon the Victorian Flora, who has just awakened--not from a charmed hundred-year sleep, but from a charming hour-long nap:
   O Lady Flora, let me speak:
   A pleasant hour has passed away
   While, dreaming on your damask cheek,
   The dewy sister-eyelids lay.
   As by the lattice you reclined,
   I went through many wayward moods
   To see you dreaming--and behind,
   A summer crisp with shining woods.
   And I, too, dreamed, until at last
   Across my fancy, brooding warm,
   The reflex of a legend past,
   And loosely settled into form. (Prologue 1-12)

In watching Flora sleep, "the reflex of a legend" passes across the speaker's "fancy." Tennyson uses "reflex" here in two senses: the physiological, "an involuntary action" and the linguistic, "a form corresponding to, or derived from, another comparable form" Without volition of the speaker, then, Flora becomes a "reconstructed" Briar Rose.

Furthermore, this passage reveals how "Day Dream" participates in Tennyson's experiments with form, evident in his concurrent composition during this decade--"The Kraken" "The Day Dream," "Tithonus," "The Epic" and the first part of In Memoriam. Tennyson was not only contemplating the human relationship to time, but was equally questing after the form to best express the relationship (and by "form" I mean both poetic mode and dormant figure). This struggle is most evident when comparing "The Epic" and "The Day Dream," frame tales wrapped round resurrected stories of resurrection. "The Epic's" reluctant poet figure provides the poem's crux by dismissing his own twelve-book Arthurian epic: "why should any man/Remodel models?" (37-8) The poet's reading of the eleventh book, "Morte D'Arthur," salvaged from the fire where he threw it, and his friends' rapt response, answers the question:
   To me, methought, who waited with the crowd,
   There came a bark that, blowing forward, bore
   King Arthur, like a modern gentleman
   Of stateliest port; and all the people cried,
   "Arthur has come again: he cannot die" (343-47)

To "remodel models" is to resurrect narrative, to re-tailor old ideas with the new clothing of societal need. But the poet's labor is explicit: his verse is called "his King Arthur" (28), "his epic" (ibid), "these twelve books of mine" (38), "his work" (331). There is no such assurance of authoritative control with "the reflex of a legend" that "loosely settles into form" When placed side by side, the "remodeled model" and the reflexive day dream beg a distinction between involuntary vision and imaginative labor.

"The Day Dream's" speaker begins the tale, not with its conventional exposition, but with the "Sleeping Palace":
   Here rests the sap within the leaf,
   Here stays the blood along the veins.
   Faint shadows, vapours lightly curl'd,
   Faint murmurs from the meadows come,
   Like hints and echoes of the world
   To spirits folded in the womb. (The Sleeping Palace 3-8)

Importantly, this enchanted caesura is likened to a gestation that is cyclic and dreamy, much as the fairy tale passes across the speaker's brooding fancy. This passivity suggests a marked contrast to the labor described in remodeling models, and into this stillness Tennyson interjects:
   When will the hundred summers die,
   And thought and time be born again,
   And newer knowledge, drawing nigh,
   Bring truth that sways the souls of men?
   Here all things in their place remain,
   As all were order'd, ages since.
   Come Care and Pleasure, Hope and Pain,
   And bring the fated Fairy Prince. (Sleeping Palace 49-56)

Thoughtless, timeless, and radiating lassitude, the princess occasions a pregnant pause in a world that cannot deliver itself of the enchantment. The prince who penetrates this feminine languor brings "care" and "pain" with him, but these are productive labor pains, corollary to "knowledge," "truth," "hope" This invocation of the prince immediately precedes the "Sleeping Beauty" section, which remains identical to the 1830 fragment. No longer a "perfect form" unto itself, the poem must, for the sake of the realm, be roused from "perfect rest."

As Clinton Machann has noted, "[f]rom the beginning of his career, Tennyson was sensitive to his own ambiguous social status as a male poet in the Romantic tradition, associated with the suspiciously feminized qualities of imaginative inwardness, emotive openness, isolation from the aggressive 'entrepreneurial manhood' valorized by bourgeois ideals" (205). Like Machann, John Hughes documents that "from the 1830s and 1840s onward, Tennyson was continually retreating from the insinuations of his critics ... that his inspiration was lacking, as Athaenium put it, in 'the manly courage' ... appropriate to a poet of the time" (98). As if to counteract this criticism, the prince of "The Day Dream" gazes soberly at "the bodies and the bones of those/That strove in other days to pass" ("The Arrival" 9-10), then "he breaks the hedge: he enters there" (18). This metaphor suggests a larger poetics of breaking and entering: no passive dreamer he. Elsewhere Tennyson insisted that the "great sage poets, who are both great thinkers and great artists," must deliver both beauty and prophesy into the world (Hallam Tennyson 287). Artistry, then, must not be a dreamy, introspective process, but a determined rush toward beauty and truth. Linda Shires contextualizes this impetus within the large-scale early Victorian turn from Romanticism and towards "the myth of a strong, paternal masculinity in England.... In part, the Victorians invent a patriarch to run the country on behalf of the young queen" ("Patriarchy" 403).

"The Day Dream" offers two historicizing moments; the first is a synchronic literary history in which Victorians reject Romanticism, linking it (however reductively) to feminized self-absorption, to beauty without prophecy. In the section titled "Moral," the speaker coyly protests that there is no moral--other than aesthetic:
   Go, look in any glass and say,
   What moral is in being fair.
   Oh to what uses shall we put
   The wildweed-flower that simply blows?
   And is there any moral shut
   Within the bosom of the rose? (Moral 3-8)

However, the speaker immediately subverts this moral for "L'Envoi," in which he imagines the tale diachronically, an endlessly repeating pattern of sleep and resurrection:
   Well--were it not a pleasant thing
   To fall asleep with all one's friends;
   To pass with all our social ties
   To silence from the paths of men;
   And every hundred years to rise
   And learn the world, and sleep again;
   To sleep through terms of mighty wars,
   And wake on science grown to more,
   On secrets of the brain, the stars,
   As wild as aught of fairy lore;
   And all else that the years will show,
   The Poet-forms of stronger hours,
   The vast republics that may grow,
   The Federations and the Powers;
   Titanic forces taking birth ...
   So sleeping, so aroused from sleep
   Thro' sunny decades new and strange,
   Or gay quinquenniads we would reap
   The flower and quintessence of change. (L'Envoi 3-24)

The first moral abandoned for the second reflects the poem's own composition history, reaching across the decade from Romantic to Victorian literary production, from timeless fragment (a perfect form in perfect rest) to timely narrative (a fairy kingdom framed by a Victorian present). Yet this passage also works diachronically, proposing a model of cultural evolution as punctuated equilibrium, with "thought and time" periodically galvanized. In the moment of transformation, with priapic hyperbole "the charm was snap't/There rose a noise of striking clocks/.../And sixty feet the fountain leapt" (1-2, 8) and like water breaking before a birth, "all the long-pent stream of life/Dash'd downward in a cataract" (15-16). Time accelerates as metaphors of climax, gestation and delivery converge in a single moment. As if the prince were both proud father and doctor on house-call, he successfully delivers the kingdom of a curse.


Tennyson's fascination with the sciences is axiomatic, and if in "The Princess" and In Memoriam his "analogical thinking" rests upon evolutionary biology, geology, and physics, in "The Day Dream," it tends towards physiology, specifically the circulatory system. (11) As Kirstie Blair notes, "the rapid rise of physiological and medical explanations of bodily processes meant that the embodied heart assumed a vital role in culture and literature" (2). Tennyson himself received a copy of Percival Lord's Popular Physiology for Christmas in 1838, and Blair argues that this gift markedly influenced Tennyson's concurrent poetic composition (80), Whereas Blair's wonderful Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart explores the Victorian physiological heart as a somatic analogue for the emotional register and metrics of Victorian poetry, for the purposes of this essay, I am more interested in the idea that the Victorian heartbeat becomes an epistemological device for investigating both personal and public temporality, that is, the intersection between individual development and cultural progress.

In Sartor Resartus, Carlyle describes punctuated progress as the "long-drawn Systole," periods of cultural advancement, the arterial spurt to all parts of the body (politic), "and long-drawn Diastole," periods of stagnation which Carlyle imagines as a passive pause before the next action (112). (12) Two decades later, James John Garth Wilkinson's The Human Body and its Connexion With Man: Illustrated by the Principal Organs (1851) appears to have adopted and significantly extended Carlyle's physiological model. (13) Wilkinson's book studies the "principal organs" in turn: the brain, the lungs, the stomach, the heart, and the skin, often bewilderingly conflating physiological processes with the functioning of the British body politic. In the chapter on the heart (the longest in the book), Wilkinson both personifies and politicizes the circulatory system: "[t]he heart, as the blood's executive power, gives corporeal substance to the frame, inasmuch as the body itself arises from the blood. The existence of the human machine depends upon the heart" (183). The heart is likewise "the agent" that "in successive moments forces life upon the arteries" (186) (which are compelled into "expansion or receptiveness") and thereby "perpetuate[s] the commonwealth" (187). Here the heart is the executive that determines the timely functioning of the machine, the ordering of the empire, the linear narrative of life: at once shop owner, prime minister, and author.

At first, Carlyle and Wilkinson appear to differ slightly in their heart/culture analogies: in Carlyle's model, the heart is divided against itself, systole must constantly strive to dispel the passivity of diastole; for Wilkinson, the heart is a fully active agent, forcing both orderliness and progress upon the passively receiving arteries. Later in the chapter, however, Wilkinson reverts to a binarized model of the heart far more like Carlyle's when he differentiates between the "private or venous" and the "public or arterial sides of the heart" (234). The blood's cycle from the heart, to the lungs, and back into the heart is likened to the progress of an individual from family home, to school, to pre-marital passions, to marriage, to public (i.e. political) life, with service to the state being the apex and arrival of an individual man: "[a]s it is with the child, so it is with the young blood--it has the capacity of going through human life, and of being and doing whatever lies in, or issues from, the heart" (236). Ultimately, both Carlyle and Wilkinson imagine within the circulatory system a simultaneously synchronic and diachronic temporality. Progress battles stagnation with every pulse; this pattern is amplified into an ontogenetic, then historical and cultural model.

Both Carlyle and Wilkinson attempt to impose a linear, developmental, and productive pattern on a process that is essentially circular. Though Wilkinson says that the purpose of the heart is "to perpetuate life by incessant cycles of formation, destruction and reformation" (189), and elsewhere comments upon "the living wheel" of the human circulatory system (190), and though he insists that one can begin a description of the circulatory system at any point in the cycle, his entire analogy is constructed as a narrative of linear progress--like the motion of the factory line, or the impetus of a leader, blood is "forced," "driven, "discharged" (185), and "throw[n] forth" (236) by the heart. Though their metaphors are dependent upon the spatial nature of the heart's "chambers" both Carlyle and Wilkinson emphasize the departure of the blood from those chambers as reflective of a larger systemic progress. Both, in other words, seem anxious to temporalize the heart and to despatialize it insofar as possible. Following Kristeva's logic in "Women's Time," I would go so far as to say that both authors attempt to gender the heartbeat (at least the systolic force of the heartbeat) masculine.

Recent work on time shows how Victorian engrossment in linear progressive temporality focused upon scientific and technological developments of the first half of the century, and their popular dissemination and application: Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, the second law of thermodynamics, Darwin's Origin of Species, the railroad and its clock, the factory and its assembly line, the relative affordability of the pocket watch and mantle clock. (14) It is not, as earlier critics (15) suggested, that these innovations created a new sense of time, or vice versa; rather, these scientific and industrial changes provided a new set of metaphors and analogues with which to imagine time, and to imagine its relationship to power structures. Circulatory analogies thus participate in the wider discourse of temporality taking place in these decades, with constructs of human history undergoing paradigmatic disruption, and with the new and uncomfortable understanding that history as "lived time" must be differentiated from and somehow reconciled to "deep time" (16) If the heartbeat is the fundamental unit of human time, it is undeniably cyclic, and therefore by Victorian terms worrisomely feminine; moreover, the heart was the historically feminized space of emotions. There seemed to be an urgency to make over that basic unit into a linear, and masculinized, temporal flow.

The writings of Carlyle and Wilkinson straddle Tennyson's production of "The Day Dream." As Blair says, Tennyson was writing into a heightened anxiety about relationships between the ticking of the clock, the motions of universe, and the rhythm of poetry (81). Indebted to Carlyle's "long-drawn systole and long-drawn diastole," anticipating the analogical thinking of Wilkinson and Paget, Tennyson makes human physiology hermeneutic for temporality itself. Carlyle's systole and Tennyson's prince: both throbbing injections of life. Tennyson's Sleeping Palace "stays the blood along the veins"--a veritable "long-drawn diastole"--until the prince delivers the dormant princess into the world just as "great thinkers" deliver civilizations into golden ages. This returns us to Carlyle's exhortation in Past and Present for the capitalist middle classes to be wakeful princes, and not sleeping princesses. And whereas Sartor Resartus undoubtedly influenced "The Day Dream," it is likely that "The Day Dream" gave Past and Present (published the following year) its "Sleeping Beauty" metaphor. Moreover, in all three of these cardiac analogies, neither the heart nor its societal analogue moves in inexorable reflex, but rather, appears to beat in mindful, deliberate labor--a remodeled model. This emphasis upon the agential heartbeat is underscored in the almost eerily regular meter of "The Day Dream," its iambs ticking away steadily like a heartbeat, until:
      / u u / u / u /
   When will the hundred summers die (Sleeping Palace 49)

The approaching prince is signaled, perhaps, by the pounding of the metrical heart; the trochee creates a systolic pump that reacts mimetically to the thrusting force of this Carlylian hero.

I may be lending Carlyle's figuration more erotic charge than is actually there, imagining in his bio-cultural simile another, subtler narrative in which the blood that has entered the private space of chamber then spurts out in an act of begetting both personal and national. If I overreach, it is due in part to the subsequent productions of both Wilkinson and Tennyson, who, I think, remodeled Carlyle's brief image into more overt elisions between the heartbeat, male climax, and progress into civic duty: for Wilkinson, "though at the top of the public impulses, it is the most secret of the chambers, and is not only the house, but the bed of the organ .... The grasp of the auricle, which consummates this life in the blood, drives it onwards, as before, into the next chamber, or left ventricle. (17) The signification of this fourth heart cannot be doubtful. It is the accumulated power of the passions. The blood that it throws forth is scarlet with force ... it is public feeling in all its forms, and we have already anticipated its name, and called it the patriotic heart" (235). In Wilkinson's admittedly confusing metaphor, the passage of the blood from the aortic valve into the left chamber and thence into the arteries is likened simultaneously to a private, erotic "consummation" and a propulsion into systemic action.

Here too, Tennyson's "Day Dream" anticipates Wilkinson's analogy. As I have argued, it is difficult to ignore the erotic register of Tennyson's "Day Dream" in the moment of waking. It is also true, however, that Tennyson develops metaphors for "sleeping" and "waking" on every scale, and therefore the erotic pulse of the poem echoes in its descriptions of heartbeats and of global policy alike. Imagined organically, the palace's stilled heartbeat ("here stays the blood along the veins") is countered by the prince's own cardiac fitness ("his heart/Beats quick and quicker, till he find/The quiet chamber far apart" ["The Arrival" 26-28]); imagined reproductively, the princess's hymeneal "charm" is "snap't" by "a touch [and] a kiss" (followed promptly by the fountain's ejaculatory surge); imagined gestationally, the realm's eternally suspended pregnancy ("spirits folded in the womb") is delivered ("the long pent stream of life dash'd downward in a cataract"), a figurative parturition echoed in the speaker's proleptic vision of cultural evolution as "titanic forces taking birth." These metaphors enfold and encroach upon each other (where heart chamber suffused suggests climactic spurt suggests egg fertilized suggests waters broken) and by effacing the discursive boundaries between circulation, conception, gestation, and delivery, personal punctuation and historical progress are linked together through the narrative of the spell-bound female aroused. In moving from "spirits folded in the womb" in "The Sleeping Palace" to the "titanic forces taking birth" in "L'Envoi," the poem enables the ontogeny of the human body to recapitulate the phylogeny of historical development. Vitally, the prince wages control over each of these personal and historical rhythms. "Thought and time" cannot "be born again" without the prince, and in the frame tale's cultural corollary "Titanic forces" are "taking birth": no feminine force gives birth in this poem. Instead, diastole is likened to pregnancy, and pregnancy to diastole, and both are figured as destructive cyclicism. There is no female generative agency in this poem, but rather image after image of introspective feminized stagnancy, which the prince and the speaker redeem with "the noise of striking clocks." Neither heartbeat, nor conception, nor gestation, nor delivery can be completed without the prince. Like the chambers of the heart, like the chamber of the princess, the princess herself becomes the space to be filled with time.

Thus, in Victorian England, the "Sleeping Beauty" fairy tale becomes the nexus of discourses of corporeal and cultural temporality. (18) The "Sleeping Beauty" tale from its inception is part of a genre in which "fertility control" poses its own discursive question, but is also, importantly, a metaphor for narrative control. (19) In the nineteenth century, with expanded knowledge of physiological and geological processes, the tale swelled to include temporal power structures within in its interrogative boundaries. (20)

Victorian deployments of "Sleeping Beauty" also demonstrate that most writers imagined a fundamentally narratological pattern of development. According to Kristeva, the trope of linear time is imagined as a "prospective unfolding," including within its terms departure, progression, and arrival (17). In these terms, linear time occupies even the basic level of "language considered as the enunciation of sentences" and that "mastery of language is mastery of time" (ibid). Departure, progression, arrival: narrative, which shares these characteristics of "unfolding," might be conceived of as the "natural" mode of articulation of a normative "masculine time." To impose narrative on physiological and cultural processes imposes a comforting linearity on what must have seemed disturbingly cyclic.

I have traced the similarities in these circulatory, gestational, and temporal tropes existing in the national discourse, in philosophy, medicine, and literature alike. But the very permeability of these narratives between authors and disciplines is itself a kind of circulatory system, and one that troubled the ameliorative rhetoric of literary history. As Catherine Gallagher has noted, writers since Aristotle have been "uncertain about whether writing most resembled the natural generativity of plants and animals or the unnatural generation of money, which, through usury, proliferates through mere circulation but brings nothing qualitatively new into being" (125). In this understanding of writing, where nothing and no one is original, but everything borrowed and returned with interest, poetic composition comes uncomfortably close to the reflex of a legend: that is, the supposed circulation of fairy tales and legends through nurses and other nameless storytellers. Young authors like Tennyson labored to efface this troubling cycle of debt.

Like all fairy tales, "Sleeping Beauty" is a narrative; but fairy tales, whether their print histories reflect a primarily male or female authorship, are stereotypically identified as a female cultural production, reflective not of temporalized narrative, but of ineffable space. (21) In "The Day Dream," Tennyson claims the "Sleeping Beauty" narrative in order to transfix and then bypass it. In Poems, Ricks includes a manuscript version of the first seven lines, in which the speaker reads Flora like a written text:
   I pored upon you as you dreamed
   Beside the casement till there grew
   I know not what of strange: you seemed
   No lady Flora that I knew
   But some perfection of the Mind
   As minted in the golden moods
   Of some great Artist. (Poems 48)

Tennyson may have altered the verse, but he retained the sentiment: when pored over by the poet, Flora becomes a carefully cultivated Briar Rose, which separates the male literary author, firmly situated in the linear stream of history, from the female dreamer, the space of interpretation. Indeed, Sleeping Beauty fades into the background in subordination to the prince. If "newer knowledge" for men is soul-swaying, for women it is sexual education. Asleep, Beauty's torpor is complete; awake, she eagerly attaches herself to the Prince: "'I'd sleep another hundred years,/O love, for such another kiss/ ... O whither goest thou, tell me where?'" (The Departure 9-10, 26) Briar Rose's self-absorbed indeed, all-absorbing--sleep ends in her absorption in another; "Beyond the night, across the day,/Thro' all the world she follow'd him" (31-32).


"Folklore is the womb of literature ... the prehistory of literature." For Tennyson, "The Day Dream" is not an end unto itself, but another moment of arrest and contemplation before continuing on to epic--to the remodeled model. And this very fact has deterred critical commentary on "The Day Dream": its own terms deflect its import, for what is a day-dream compared to an epic? "The reflex of a legend" becomes the more ringingly triumphant "Arthur has come again, he cannot die," We don't write about "Day Dream" because Tennyson encourages us to see it as a phase he was going through. Though in the tale the prince incorporates the princess into the world, in the generic sense, Tennyson tries to conjure "Sleeping Beauty"--and with her his own associations with Romanticism and the suspicious femininity of his poetic production--into a dreamless sleep. The poem asks to be read as an immature, even girlish literary production, traversed after a decade, abandoned for two epics, each with a sleeping Arthur at its center.

The word spell in many ways supplies the heartbeat of this essay. In its earliest usage (in Beowulf), and deriving from Old English spill or spiel, it means to utter, declare, relate, or tell a discourse, narrative, tale, or fable, The word originated, then, in the transmission of fabulous oral narrative. In the sixteenth century it becomes "a set of words, formula or verse supposed to possess magical powers; a fascinating or enthralling charm?' In this same century, the word "spell," deriving from a different root, the Old English spala (spare), begins to refer to time and labor: "a turn of work in order to relieve others." And as the word came to be associated with temporality, it altered from treating the spoken narrative to insisting upon the written word: "to enunciate or write letter by letter" from the sixteenth century, and by the nineteenth century "to turn out (literary work or writing) with some difficulty." (22) The OED exemplifies this meaning with a quote by Sir Walter Scott, from a journal of 15 May 1829: "I have spelled out some work this day, though I have been rather knocked about." How appropriate that this definition of "spell" should come to us from the man who fretted about his literary reconstruction of ballads in Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border in this famously ambiguous statement: "In many respects, if I improved the poetry, I spoiled the simplicity of the old song" ("Scott, Walter" 655). Spoil: a telling word, if you will; indivisible from its associations with ravaging and plunder, the sentence spells out literary victory. And it is not necessary to stoop to jokes about "Sleeping Booty" to point out that spoiling is tantamount to spelling: to write with difficulty means to strip the definition of "spell" away from its oral roots. Tennyson's speaker may "day-dream" the tale in an idle hour, but Tennyson the poet resists reflexivity, framing the modern moral around the tale over a decade: to take up time, to take up space. This, Tennyson insists, is a stage en route to literature, not, in Wordsworth's terms "to tell again ... some tale" but painstaking labor, spelling: word by word. But if it is necessary to ravage the tale to make the poem, the fairy tale's disruptive potential is implicit. Though Tennyson tries to put the tale to bed, he also seems to understand that the tale will burst its temporal and generic boundaries.

For what, after all, is "The Day Dream"? To what form or genre does it belong? Its originating fragment was not included in Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, nor is it considered one of the "lady poem" lyrics; the completed version is not counted among the "English Idyll" poems. "The Princess" is generally cited as the first of Tennyson's "topical poems?' Perhaps our critical neglect is part of a larger problem: what is a form that has a fairy tale at its heart? With this question in mind, it makes sense that Bakhtin's writing is currently enjoying its own resurrection with critics who understand "dialogism" not only as voices competing within a single form, but as disjunctive genres that cross-pollinate, inhabiting each other uncomfortably and productively. For us, for Tennyson, to allow the fairy tale to join the poem's dialogism means acknowledging that the fairy tale is a narrative genre, one that matters, one that can disrupt and threaten other forms by inhabiting them.

If we are at a loss to find a generic resting place for the poem, "The Day Dream" wants to know what it is, too. Indeed, it is a poem quite literally taken up with form; the word appears six times in the poem, with meanings at anxious variance: is this "a perfect form in perfect rest?" part of "the poet-forms of stronger hours?" Or something that is only "loosely settled into form" something that causes within the poet, or within the poem itself, "many a wayward mood?" The phrase points us toward the dialogism everywhere evident in the poem, its wayward forms, its weird temporalities. (23) You may have already noticed that there is, in the poem's transition from frame to tale, an immediate problem of time and space. The frame begins in the past tense ("A pleasant hour has passed away/While dreaming on your damask cheek the dewy sister eyelids lay"); the tale begins in the present tense ("Here rests the sap along the leaf, here stays the blood along the veins"). Then, too "here rests ... here stays" is purposely dislocating: where is "here"? Moreover, the frame, though beginning in the past tense, moves to the present when Flora asks to have the fairy tale recited, while the tale remains in the present until the princess awakens, when it shifts to past tense. On the one hand, temporal difficulties would seem to be resolved by the end of the poem: the fairy tale is left in the past tense, the Victorian frame joins the present tense. On the other hand, these tense shifts are confusing, preventing any simple certainty of linear evolution from past to present, sleeping to waking: rather, the tenses move the poem in a suspiciously circular motion. Tennyson, as he so often did, deliberately tangles the frame and tale, making a "lattice," (or "casement," or "portal," he used these terms fairly interchangeably) to fold together the temporalities of the Victorian present and the imagined past, leaving us with the kick of reflexivity--the perception that fairy tales cast a spell that we can't quite spell out.

Like Bakhtin's work on conflict, Kristeva's work on gendered time, as I have indicated, is enjoying a revival, adopted not to replicate the oppositional categories of "male time" and "female time" that Kristeva critiques, but to recognize the extent to which these modes coexist and punctuate each other, the extent to which any author in any era, as Jago Morrison has argued, "negotiate[s] an understanding of personal and social time by mediating between these feminine and masculine-identified modes" within himself or herself and his or her writing (Morrison 261), Many of the studies I have already cited in these pages understand Tennyson's poetry to negotiate precisely this mediation. (24) However, these critics also emphasize the anxiety with which Tennyson regarded the supposedly feminine qualities of his own compositional practices and productions.

The twelve years that Tennyson devoted to work upon "Sleeping Beauty" is itself epic--epic in time committed and labor performed, if not in the actual poem's length or form or scope. And yet the same twelve years shows us Tennyson striving to both write the fairy tale and to outgrow the fairy tale for the epic--to differentiate the "loose form" of day dream from the "remodeled model" of Arthurian epic. And this is notwithstanding the fact that the composition process was just as complex, just as layered for "The Day Dream" as for early work on Idylls of the King or In Memoriam. Tennyson seems to depend upon the idea that epic does not need the same elaborate machinations to authorize it as a vehicle for recording history, heroism, and mastery. The epic, the OED tells us, "celebrates in the form of a continuous narrative the achievements of one or more heroic personages of history or tradition." To a folklorist, Arthurian legendry is, like fairy tales, a body of narrative folklore, its characters no more "personages of history" than Briar Rose. However, a long line of critics have insisted upon epic's power to create a linear (and thus masculinized) historical continuum between the epic subject and the epic poet: in Hegel's terms, "in spite of this separation in time a close connection must nevertheless still be left between the poet and his material. The poet must still be wholly absorbed in these old circumstances, ways of looking at things, and faith, and all he needs to do is to bring a poetic consciousness and artistic portrayal to his subject which is in fact the real basis of his actual life" (1047). (25) If by spelling Sleeping Beauty, Tennyson is also trying to reject his critic's charges of girlish reflexivity, of himself "being all too dearly self-involved," then he appears to have decided that a formal solution, a turn to epic, was in order: epic narrative as antidote to fairy tale. (26) However, Tennyson's process for writing followed the same bodily metaphor that he constructs in the Sleeping Beauty tale of both gestation and heartbeat: periods of dormant, inward-looking rumination, followed by bursts of outward action. (27) And while it is one thing to employ the tale as a diachronic trope for cultural evolution, or as a synchronic trope for gendered spaces and actions, to locate the model within his own body, within his own labor, is a considerably less comfortable proposal. To be both princess and prince is to destabilize the very principles of separate temporal spheres, and to challenge the primacy of linear narrative authority.

The very process of circulating fairy tales, then, both within and between author's oeuvres, gives rise to vexations of gender and genre. There is anxiety of influence at work to be sure; but in Bloom's terms, anxiety of influence necessitates that there is an author to be made anxious by. Therefore, there is also, and more fundamentally, an anxiety of no influence, of the power of the narrative beyond any creator. With splinters of the fairy tale working into Victorian discourse--indeed, shaping our tropes of conception to this day--it was currency authors aimed for, currency they feared; that each author was, after all, "telling again ... some tale," not like modern gentlemen, but like old wives. After periods of slumber, the tale gets "pored upon" by young men, penetrated, awakened, brought to circulation. This pattern enacts simultaneously a movement to contain, and a temporal rupture: the tale courses through the temporal artery, but it bursts that boundary and circulates in other heads, in other times, providing other artists with its use for material acquisition. To resurrect the tale is to spell the previous artist, relieve him of duty, but ultimately, to be spelled by the tale that, every hundred years, will rise, and learn the world, and sleep again.


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I would like to dedicate this essay to the memory of Dr. Sally Ledger: great woman, scholar, and dreamer.

(1.) John R. Reed, though stating that all of Tennyson's framing devices allow him "to suggest the vitality of the past for the present," stresses "but it is important to note that the vitality of the past inheres in its events being significant enough to transcend time." "Epic/Morte D'Arthur" is "significant enough"; "The Day Dream" by contrast "uses the same device for a more frivolous subject" (215).

(2.) Indeed, the "Sleeping Beauty" narrative is a source for many nineteenth century texts, and this, too has been virtually ignored in criticism. For instance, though Keats was reading the sixteenth-century Italian version of "Sleeping Beauty" at the time of composing "Eve of St. Agnes" and though critics have acknowledged "Sleeping Beauty" as a source for the poem, scholarship has denied the tale any serious impact upon Keats's work, instead citing Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, and various saint's legends as the central influences of the poem. Charles Dickens's double indictments of the worlds of "fashion" and "Chancery" in Bleak House as "sleeping beauties whom the knight will wake one day, when all the stopped spits in the kitchen shall begin to turn prodigiously!" (20) becomes an urgently important motif in the novel through Lady Dedlock, the "exhausted deity" who is figuratively and eventually literally "bored to death;' her weary indifference stilling Chesney Wold and spreading throughout the land. Nevertheless, critics--even those explicitly interested in Dickens's relationship to the fantastic--have historically decided that his folkloric plots are merely meant to elicit recollections of the childish imagination, and are thus irreconcilable with material realism. And though Edward Burne-Jones's three completed Briar Rose series represented four decades of his work, though he himself wrote frequently about his labor on the series, though it received tremendous popular attention in the press during its year-long exhibition, and though it is mentioned in every one of Burne-Jones's memorial notices, scholarly attention focuses on Burne-Jones's other late work-Arthur's Sleep in Avalon, largely avoiding the Briar Rose series.

(3.) Robert Alter, who devotes an entire book to exploring Dickens's mediation between fantasy and realism, acknowledges Dickens's "fairy-tale perspective," but also reveals his own discomfort with it: "I would prefer to give that notion a little more edge by suggesting that Dickens repeatedly exercises a faculty of archaic vision in which what meets the eye in the contemporary scene triggers certain primal fears and fantasies" (Imagined Cities 47; emphasis original). Notable exceptions to this pattern include Nicola Bown, Jennifer Schacker, and Carole G. Silver; I join this small but important group of critics who invest the fairy tale and legend with generic status and discursive power.

(4.) The essay "Specifika fol'klora" [The nature of folklore] was originally published in 1946.

(5.) Katie Trumpener, who cites this same passage, notes that "[f]olklore, in Propp's description, becomes mother and prehistoric nurse, and literature the son who suckles himself in infancy on the folkloric but who eventually must leave his mother's arms to follow his destiny" (341, n. 9).

(6.) Mikhail Bakhtin imagined dialogism as conversation between mutually interacting texts. More particularly, he stresses that texts exist in time and simultaneously inform and are informed by previous and future texts. To call fairy tales immaterial is, if not to reject them as narratives, at least to refuse to accord them (both as an entire genre and as individual fairy tales with publication histories) dialogic power.

(7.) According to Jack Zipes: "'Sleeping Beauty' ('Briar Rose') appears in the Catalan Frayer de Joy e Sor de Placer (fourteenth century), as 'Troylus and Zellandine' in the French Perceforest (sixteenth century), as 'Sole, Luna, e Talia' in Il Pentamerone (1634-36) by Giambattista Basile, as 'La Belle au Bois Dormant' in Histoires ou contes du temps passd (1697) by Charles Perrault, and as 'Dornroschen' in Kinder und Hausmiirchen (1812-15) by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm" (467). The Catalan version would not have been available to English readers. Perceforest was first printed in French in 1528, and Italian in 1558, but few copies existed, and these would not have been widely available in England.

(8.) To this list of possible sources other scholars have tentatively added "The Ninth Captain's Tale" from the Arabian Nights tradition, in which a girl is cast into a swoon from a chip of flax under her fingernail. In 1704-17 Antoine Galland produced the first translation in French, and before he had even completed the task, parts of the work appeared in English translation. However, almost every edition included a different collection of the tales; translations passed through so many editions and so many authorial changes that it is nearly impossible to verify whether Basile took his plot from this tale, or whether the chip of flax episode was added to "The Ninth Captain's Tale" after Basile's version. And while nearly every literate Victorian read the Arabian Nights Tales, is it impossible to know precisely who read which versions of the Tales, as authors never identify the tales by their compilers.

(9.) Fairy godmothers are invited to a celebration of the princess's birth. One fairy is omitted by accident, and curses the child to prick her hand on a spindle and drop down dead. Another fairy commutes the sentence to a hundred years of sleep, to be broken when a king's son shall come to awaken her.

(10.) "The Day Dream" is divided into nine sections. Each section is rifled (i.e., Prologue, The Sleeping Palace, The Arrival The Sleeping Beauty, The Revival The Departure, The Moral L'Envoi, Epilogue). In Poems, edited by Christopher Ricks, the lines are not numbered consecutively, but rather begin anew with each new section. Because the section titled The Sleeping Beauty remained unchanged between its independent publication in 1830 and its publication as part of "The Day Dream" in 1842, Ricks does not print "The Sleeping Beauty" fragment separately from the longer work.

(11.) Recent criticism has deftly traced the way in which scientists and literary artists mutually informed each other through "metaphoric, or analogical, thinking as a powerful tool for imagining the natural world" (Gold 456). Beginning with the work of Gillian Beers, scholars like Harold Fulweiler, Michael Tomko, Barri Gold, and Virginia Zimmerman have argued that metaphor, allegory and, more broadly, narrative itself, is fundamental to scientific writing, and thus erodes the boundaries between material realism and fantastic representation.

(12.) James Paget, in the Croonian lecture to the Royal Society, proposed a similarly metonymic relationship between the rhythm of the individual heart and the "time-keeping" function of all natural processes. See also Blair 89 for reference to Paget.

(13.) According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1911, Wilkinson was a homeopathic physician and Swedenborgian philosopher who was friends with Carlyle and Tennyson (Vol. XXVIII, 647).

(14.) See, for example, Feltes, Burke, Campbell, Murphy, and Dillon.

(15.) Especially Buckley.

(16.) That is, geological and, even more unimaginably, astronomical or universal time.

(17.) Whereas medical practice today interprets the heart from the position of the observer, and thus determines that the right aorta and ventricle process arterial blood and the left aorta and ventricle process venous blood, Wilkinson interprets the heart from the position of the heart's owner, and thus inverts the model.

(18.) And lest this convergence should seem implausible, it is useful to remember that Tennyson's line from "Locksley Hall" "Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime/With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time" (11-12) prompted the popular adoption of the phrase "the fairy tales of science" for decades afterwards: becoming, among other things, the title of a best-selling science book for children by John Cargill Brough (1858), which framed various scientific theories (energy, volcanism, the fossil record, matter, physiology, etc.) through the narrative structure of the fairy tale.

(19.) Certainly the earliest versions of "Sleeping Beauty" with which I began this essay, imagine a reproductive awakening for the princess. See also fairy tale scholars Holly Tucker (Pregnant Fictions) and Ruth B. Bottigheimer ("Fertility Control"), who have discovered that at least since the Early Modern period, fairy tales have been used to explore the relationship between female reproduction and literary authorship.

(20.) Indeed, the Victorian "Sleeping Beauty" was so successful in joining temporal and physiological tropes that, as both Emily Martin and Londa Schiebinger have pointed out, the narrative is still very much in use in modern biology textbooks: "[i]n these sagas of conception, the spermatic hero actively pursues the egg, surviving the hostile environment of the vagina and defeating his many rivals. The large and placid egg, like Sleeping Beauty, drifts unconsciously along the fallopian tube, until awakened by a valiant sperm" (Schiebinger 145).

(21.) Or what Kristeva calls "matrix space": that is, "extrasubjective" "cosmic time" or "monumental temporality," which "has so little to do with linear time (which passes) that the very word 'temporality' hardly fits" (16).

(22.) In the sixteenth century "spell" from German spellen to split, cleave also becomes "a splinter, chip, or fragment?' Interestingly, in early versions of "Sleeping Beauty" it is not an irritated fairy, nor a finger prick to an enchanted spindle that drops the princess into sleep, but a splinter (chip, fragment) of flax under her nail. In this version, too, then, it is a spell that fells her.

(23.) That is, "wayward" with its history bound (through Shakespeare) to the word "weird," and "mood" with connections to both verb tense and rhythmic patterns. I am grateful to my colleague Joseph Navitsky for drawing my attention to the idea that "wayward moods" in some sense points to the "weird form" of "The Day Dream."

(24.) Such as Hughes, Machann, Shires; see also Adams, Linley, O'Brien and Weaver.

(25.) See also Middleton 14-15.

(26.) However, given the reception of Tennyson's Arthur (Henry Crabbe Robinson called him "unfit to be an epic-hero," Henry James called him "a prig," and T.S. Eliot complained that Tennyson had created "suitable reading for a girl's school" [Machann 199]), this may have been a more difficult task than anticipated. As Linda Shires contends: "[i]n spite of the lengthy time period involved in composition and arrangement, both the general movement of the finished poem and the complicated order of the published parts indicate Tennyson's abiding concern with a fragile and disempowered masculinity" ("Patriarchy" 408). I wonder, though, whether it is not in spite of his habitual length of composition time but in this very fact that Tennyson's concerns reside.

(27.) Other literary authors--Keats, Dickens, and Edward Burne-Jones--meditated upon the "Sleeping Beauty" subject in much the same way as Tennyson: lingeringly, fretfully, over many versions begun, laid to rest, taken up again. Indeed, as the century advanced, time taken with the tale only increased. Dickens spent over twenty years with the tale; he introduced fragments of the tale for the first time in Dombey and Son (1848), and appeared to be concluding the exploration with an extended allegory of the tale in Mystery of Edwin Drood at his death (1870). Burne-Jones's work with the tale spanned four decades, three completed series, several single subject canvasses, and decorative art pieces. At the same time, each successive artist spelling over the tale was very much aware of his precursor. Keats was an acknowledged source of Tennyson, Tennyson of Dickens and Burne-Jones.

Molly Clark Hillard is an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she teaches Victorian literature. She is the author of such essays as "Dangerous Exchange: Fairy Footsteps, Goblin Economies, and The Old Curiosity Shop," "'When Desert Armies Stand Ready to Fight': Re-Reading Saturday and 'Dover Beach'," and "Dickens's Little Red Riding Hood and Other Waterside Characters." She is currently completing a book project that examines the relationship between fairy tales and canonical literary genres in the Victorian period.
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Author:Hillard, Molly Clark
Date:Oct 1, 2009
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