Skip to main content
×
×
Home

“A HATEFUL CAWING FROM THE CROWS”: COLLATERAL DAMAGE IN THE CULTURE WARS

  • Mischa Willett (a1)
Extract

W. E. Aytoun's satirical verse drama, Firmilian (1854), an anti-radical, scattershot missive meant to re-align British poetic tastes by reversing the aesthetic gains made by Romanticism in the decades prior to its publication, has been called “one of the most successful pieces of literary criticism ever written” (Morton 849). Despite its broad ambitions, however, it has often been read as a narrow attack on the individual poets popular during the summer of its appearance, creating a school where one had not existed before, turning the poets Philip James Bailey, Alexander Smith, Sydney Dobell and others into “the Spasmodic School.” But, as Charles LaPorte and Jason Rudy suggest, despite a myth that grew up later in the century about Firmilian's mighty power and the Spasmodic stars’ demise, the label hardly destroyed the poets associated therewith. So did Firmilian accomplish its purposes? In what ways can we consider it successful if not?

Copyright
References
Hide All
Anon. The Athenaeum 2445 (Sept. 1874).
Anon. Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 14: 485–86.
Auden, W. H. Poets of the English Language Vol. 5. New York: Viking, 1950.
Aytoun, W. E.Longfellow's Golden Legend.” Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 71 (1852): 212–25.
Aytoun, W. E. pseud. Gaultier, Bon, “The Massacre of Macpherson.” A Book of Ballads. London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1857.
Aytoun, W. E. pseud. Percy Jones, T.. Firmilian, or the Student of Badajoz, a Spasmodic Tragedy. London: Redfield, 1854.
Bailey and Tennyson,” The Scottish Review 3.12 (1855): 347–57.
Berry, Simon. Glasgow Observed. Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1987.
Bigg, J. Stanyan. Night and the Soul: a Dramatic Poem. London: Groombridge, 1854.
Black, Aileen. Gilfillan of Dundee 1813–1878: Interpreting Religion and Culture in Mid-Victorian Scotland. Dundee: Dundee UP, 2006.
Blair, Kirstie. “Spasmodic Affectations: Poetry, Pathology, and the Spasmodic Hero.” Victorian Poetry 42.4 (2004): 473–90.
Boos, Florence. “Class and Victorian Poetics.” Literature Compass 2 (2005):120.
Boos, Florence. “Spasm and Class: W. E. Aytoun, George Gilfillan, Sydney Dobell, and Alexander Smith.” Victorian Poetry 42.4 (2004): 553–83.
Brisbane, Thomas. The Early Years of Alexander Smith: Poet and Essayist. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1869.
Buckley, Jerome. The Victorian Temper. Harvard: Harvard UP, 1951.
Bulwer-Lytton. England and the English. Ed. Meacham, Standish. Chicago: Routledge, 1970.
Craig, Isa. “Alexander Smith.” Quiver 2.80 (1867): 433–36.
Cronin, Richard. “Alexander Smith and the Poetry of Displacement,” Victorian Poetry 28.2 (1990): 129–45.
Cronin, Richard. Paper Pellets: British Literary Culture after Waterloo. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010.
Cronin, Richard. “The Spasmodics.” A Companion to Victorian Poetry. Ed. Cronin, Richard, Alison Chapman and Harrison, Antony H.. Malden: Blackwell, 2002. 291304.
Dobell, Sydney. Life and Letters of Sydney Dobell. Ed. E. J. London: Smith, 1878.
Edwards, David Herschell. Modern Scottish Poets: With Biographical and Critical Notices, Vol. 15. Brechin: D. H. Edwards, 1897.
Gerald Massey and Alexander Smith.” Dublin University Magazine 59 (1862): 6272.
Grimsditch, Herbert B.Alexander Smith, Poet and Essayist.” The London Mercury. Vol. 12. 1925.
Harrison, Antony H.Victorian Culture Wars: Alexander Smith, Arthur Hugh Clough, and Matthew Arnold in 1853.” Victorian Poetry 42.4 (2004): 509–20.
Holyoake, George Jacob. Sixty Years of an Agitator's Life Vol. 2. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1892.
Hughes, Linda K.Alexander Smith and the Bisexual Poetics of ‘A Life-Drama.’Victorian Poetry 42.4 (2004): 491508.
Jones, Ernest Charles. Ernest Jones: Chartist, Ed. Saville, John. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1952.
Jones, Ernest Charles. The Student of Padua. London: William Henry Cox, 1836.
Jones, Percy T. “Review of Firmilian.” The Athenaeum 1405 (1854): 1165.
Laporte, Charles. “‘Aurora Leigh’, ‘A Life-Drama’ and Victorian Poetic Autobiography.” SEL 53. 4 (2013): 829–51.
Laporte, Charles and Rudy, Jason. “Spasmodic Poetry and Poetics.” Victorian Poetry 42.4 (2004): 421–28.
Larcom, Lucy to Fields, James M.. MS Letter October 8, 1860. Fields Collection, Huntington Library.
The Latest School of Poetry.” The Leader 5.219 (1854): 521–22.
Lessenich, Rolf P. Neoclassical Satire and the Romantic School 1780-1830. Göttingen: Bonn UP, 2012.
Markovits, Stefanie. The Crimean War in the British Imagination. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009.
Millar, J.H.Recent Celtic Experiments in English Literature.Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, May 1896.
Morgan, Edwin. “Scottish Poetry in the Nineteenth Century,” in The History of Scottish Literature Vol. 3. Ed. Cairns, Craig. Aberdeen: Aberdeen UP, 1988. 339–40.
Morton, Heather. “The ‘Spasmodic’ Hoaxes of W. E. Aytoun and A. C. Swinburne.” SEL 48.4 (2008): 849–60.
Paget, Julian. Wellington's Peninsular War. South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword, 2006.
“Poetical Nuisances.” The Saturday Review (23 Feb. 1856): 327–30.
“Recent Poetry.” The Scottish Review 7 (1862): 243–54.
Reminiscences of Alexander Smith.” Every Saturday 3 (1867): 266.
Rossetti, Christina. C. R. to Aytoun, W. E., August 1, 1854. In The Letters of Christina Rossetti, Ed. Harrison, Antony. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 1997.
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, His Family Letters with a Memoir, Ed. Michael Rossetti, William. London: Ellis and Elvey, 1895.
Rossetti, William Michael. WMR to William Bell Scott, October, 23, 1853. In The Selected Letters of William Michael Rossetti. Ed. Peattie, Roger W.. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2010.
Sanders, Mike. The Poetry of Chartism: Aesthetics, Politics, History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009.
Smith, Alexander. Last Leaves: Sketches and Criticism. London: W. P. Nimmo, 1868.
Taylor, Miles. Ernest Jones, Chartism, and the Romance of Politics 1819–1869. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2003.
Tucker, Herbert. “Glandular Omnism and Beyond: The Victorian Spasmodic Epic.” Victorian Poetry 42.4 (2004): 429–50.
Weinstein, Mark A. William Edmondstoune Aytoun and the Spasmodic Controversy. New Haven: Yale UP 1968.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed