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  • Natasha Moore (a1)

The Angel in the House is not a very good poem,” writes Carol Christ, “yet it is culturally significant, not only for its definition of the sexual ideal, but also for the clarity with which it represents the male concerns that motivate fascination with that ideal” (147). Her pronouncement is strongly emblematic of recent approaches to Coventry Patmore's best-known poem. The Angel, it is asserted or implied, almost never receives a full or attentive reading now, and does not reward one; it would long since have sunk into obscurity were it not for the unforeseen appropriation of its title as a repository for the prevailing Victorian conception of womanhood; as a text it belongs more properly to the domain of cultural history or gender studies than literary criticism. A renewed scholarly interest in the technical experimentation of Patmore's later volume The Unknown Eros (1877) has done little to challenge this view, largely defining itself against the dull conventionality of the earlier work.

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Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
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