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An elegy is a poem of loss or mourning written after a death in order to express grief, commemorate the dead, and seek consolation, and which often employs conventions from classical pastoral. The adjectival form “elegiac” loosely characterizes many forms of Victorian art and culture as nostalgic or melancholy. The canonical Victorian elegies include Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam A. H. H. (1850); Matthew Arnold, “Thyrsis” (1866); Algernon Charles Swinburne, “Ave atque Vale” (1868). Mainstream criticism on major elegies has drawn principally on theories of the Freudian “work of mourning” and Bloomian “anxiety of influence.” Expansion of the Victorian poetry canon in the 1980s and 1990s exposed limitations to masculinist psychoanalytic interpretations, and these have been addressed productively in gender, genre, and ethical criticism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature
EditorsDino Franco Felluga, Pamela K. Gilbert, Linda K. Hughes
Place of PublicationOxford
ISBN (Electronic)9781118405383
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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