"The Poet of Science": how scientists read their Tennyson
Holmes, J. (2012) "The Poet of Science": how scientists read their Tennyson. Victorian Studies, 54 (4). pp. 655-678. ISSN 1527-2052
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Official URL: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/victorian_studies/
Tennyson’s responses to science have been thoroughly documented and discussed, but how did scientists respond to his poetry? Through examining in detail the work of three scientists who wrote at length about Tennyson--the astronomer Norman Lockyer, the physicist Oliver Lodge, and the American geologist William North Rice--it is possible to see how Tennyson went from being respected by contemporary scientists to being feted as the Poet of Science itself after his death. As a materialist, a Spiritualist, and a Darwinian Methodist respectively, Lockyer, Lodge, and Rice had very different conceptions of how science worked and what it implied about the universe, yet each looked to Tennyson and his poetry to confirm and extend his own judgements and values.
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