Criticism on Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”



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Criticism on Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”


Compiled by Sarah Bleakney 1/18/07

Recent articles


Cuthbertson, Guy. “The Shakespeare and Tennyson behind Edward Thomas’s ‘Parting.’” Notes and Queries 51.2 (June 2004): 175-178.

  • Traces how Thomas uses the “In Memoriam” stanza structure (four octosyllabic lines rhyming abba) and subject matter of “parting and the past” as inspiration for his poem, “Parting.”

Fisher, Devon. “Spurring an Imitative Will: The Canonization of Arthur Hallam.” Christianity and Literature 55.2 (Winter 2006): 221-244.



  • Claims this poem, as it attempts to “enshrine” Tennyson’s secular saint Hallam, is an example of “personal grief” transferred into a “public arena,” raising questions as to how Victorian England will establish “collective memory” and move into the future.

Gold, Barri J. “The Consolation of Physics: Tennyson’s Thermodynamic Solution.” PMLA 117.3 (May 2002): 449-464.



  • This poem, according to Gold, illustrates that there is a “place for physics in poetry.” She illustrates how the development of thermodynamic theory “coincides with” the development and publishing of the poem.

Gray, Erik. “Sonnet Kisses: Sidney to Barrett Browning.” Essays in Criticism 52:2 (Apr 2002): 126-142.



  • Examines the “morbidity” of the kisses in Tennyson’s poem by connecting them to sonnet structures, in particular Petrarchan.

Henchman, Anna. “‘The Globe We Groan In’: Astronomical Distance and Stellar Decay in In Memoriam.” Victorian Poetry 41.1 (Spring 2003): 29-45.



  • Seeks to connect Tennyson’s “lifelong preoccupation with astronomy” and its ability to challenge “sensory perception” to the “form and subject matter of his poetry.”

Kolb, Jack. “Hallam, Tennyson, Homosexuality and the Critics.” Philological Quarterly 79.3 (Summer 2000): 365-396.



  • Examines the critical reception of the poem to reveal the evolution of Victorian and contemporary attitudes towards sexuality as well as the “biographical and historical bases” of that criticism (regarding the exact nature of Hallam and Tennyson’s relationship).

Krasner, James. “Doubtful Arms and Phantom Limbs: Literary Portrayals of Embodied Grief.” PMLA 119.2 (Mar 2004): 218-232.



  • Explores the effect of the debilitation of those mourning a loss. Krasner claims that “phantom limb pain is an embodied response to loss,” using Tennyson’s poem as one example.

Leighton, Angela. “Touching Forms: Tennyson and Aestheticism.” Essays in Criticism 52:1 (Jan 2002): 126-142.



  • Seeks to define Tennyson’s stance regarding aestheticism (and aesthete’s opinions of Tennyson). Though he found it conceptually hateful, he is also recognized as “for a time” its “chief master” due to the sensuality of his work and his concerns regarding thematic and literal issues of form.

O’Gorman, Francis. “Tennyson’s ‘In Memoriam’ and Tangle.” ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews 17.2 (Spring 2004): 41-42.



  • Infers various meanings of the Latin name for the seaweed that tangles itself with Hallam’s body in Tennyson’s poem.

Platizky, Roger. “Elegies in a Different Key: Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Paul Monette’s Love Alone.” Midwest Quarterly 43.3 (Summer 2002): 346-354.



  • Compares how both poems embody “mourning work of grief” after the loss of a “beloved friend” who “died too young.”

Tomko, Michael. “Varieties of Geological Experience: Religion, Body, and Spirit in Tennyson’s In Memoriam and Lyell’s Principles of Geology.” Victorian Poetry 42.2 (Summer 2004): 113-133.



  • Seeks to dispel the “persistent meta-narrative” that connects the rise of science (“especially geology”) with the “desperate, precipitous decline in religious faith” through the mid-nineteenth century. In addition, looks to explore how Tennyson’s faith advocated a “rupture between the body and spirit” in the poem.



Other recent articles (i.e., not available at our library)

Armstrong, Charles I. “‘The Wide Whisper Round My Head’: In Memoriam and the Complexity of Memory.” NJES: Nordic Journal of English Studies 3.3 (2004): 241-262.


Blair, Kirstie. “Touching Hearts: Queen Victoria and the Curative Properties of In Memoriam.” Tennyson Research Bulletin 5 (2001): 246-254.
Choi, Byong Hyon. “In Memoriam and Tennyson’s Rage for Order and Coherence.” Journal of English Language and Literature 49.4 (Winter 2003): 871-882.
Clayton, Ruth. “Gladstone, Tennyson and History: 1886 and All That.” Tennyson Research Bulletin 8 (2001): 151-165.
Good, Nigel. “Tennyson and the Lattice Motif.” Tennyson Research Bulletin 8 (2004): 172-177.
Kwon, Seokwoo. “Thematic Ambivalence and Dual Structure in Tennyson’s In Memoriam.” Nineteenth Century Literature in English 7.5 (Nov 2001): 246-254.
Mazzeno, Laurence W. Alfred Tennyson: The Critical Legacy. Suffolk: Campden House, 2004.
Wolfreys, Julian. “The Matter of Faith: Incarnation and Incorporation in Tennyson’s In Memoriam.” Writing the Bodies of Christ: The Church from Carlyle to Derrida. Ed. John Schad. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.
Williams, Rhian. “Shakespeare, His Sonnets, In Memoriam and the Reviewers.” Tennyson Research Bulletin 8 (June 2004): 178-189.

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