Design of William Morris' The Earthly Paradise

Author: Boos, Florence
Year:1991
Pages:592
ISBN:0-88946-933-4
978-0-88946-933-4
Price:169.95
Examines The Earthly Paradise as the first mature poetic expression of Morris' view that a poet is also a historian who bears the immense responsibility of creation and narration. Details one of the longest and most complex single poetic narratives in the English language along several lines: systematic use of multiple narrators and audiences which deepen the poem's sense of shared experience and impose a coherent structure on its temporal and other discontinuities; the alterations of confession, description, and retrospection in the frame and inner tales that enabled Morris to complete one of the fullest Victorian meditations on the creation of identity through frustrated love and sorrow; the flexibility and subtlety of the poem's various allegorical resonances and narrative levels; and the "stoic," aesthetic, and political implications of Morris' evolving ideal of friendship.

Reviews

"Boos makes a compelling case for the complexity and the value of the poem -- its several levels of narration and audience resulting from the frame, the use it makes of its sources, and its fluency and musicality. At the same time, she maintains a healthy critical distance. . . . More than a hundred pages of appendix material gives a critical survey, an unpublished tale, an alternate draft of part of another tale, a chronology of composition, a bibliography and index. . . . Professor Boos provides forceful and elegant arguments for knowing the poem better. A fine addition to Morris scholarship." - SFRA Newsletter

"Boos is useful in providing readers with materials omitted from the published poem and thus not easily available. She reprints one of the tales Morris chose to exclude, 'The Story of Dorothea,' comments extensively on another, 'The Story of Orpheus,' and she gives readers an interesting early draft of Morris's Tannhauser story, 'The Hill of Venus'. Useful too are the surveys of nineteenth- and twentieth-century criticism of the poem." - Victorian Studies