How the Writings of William Morris Shaped the Literary Style of Tennyson, Swinburne, Gissing, and Yeats

Author: Sasso, Eleonora
This text is the first to examine the influence of William Morris on the artistic, literary, and ideological styles of Tennyson, Swinburne, Gissing, and Yeats. The focus is on a selection of Morris’ writings and situates them in the fields of art, culture, and society. Through Roland Barthes’ approach to interpreting text, Sasso demonstrates that Tennyson, Swinburne, Gissing, and Yeats were all readers of Morris’ work which in turn stimulated their own writing and infused them with desire. Shows how Morris’ influence caused his contemporaries to emulate his style of writing and how that style ultimately framed the mind of Victorian England.


“...eloquently and persuasively written, will contribute to a greater understanding of the cultural centrality of Morris’s work in late Victorian England.” – Prof. Francesco Marroni, Universita delgi Studi Gabriele D’Annunzio

“…has much that is new for the student of Victorian culture.” – Prof. Roger Ebbatson, Lancaster University

“…a challenging and important contribution.” – Prof. Peter Faulkner, University of Exeter

"Eleanora Sasso's How the Writings of William Morris Shaped the Literary Style of Tennyson, Swinburne, Gissing, and Yeats sets out to show just that, drawing particularly on Barthes's ideas of the relationship between the reader and text as productive of different kinds of pleasure or jouissance - bliss - resulting in new readings and therefore new writings. It devotes a chapter to each writer's work in relation to Morris, suggesting ways in which their reading of his poetry, lectures and fiction affected their own writing practice and production. ... The book offers consistent adn original theoretical analysis and pleasingly pays attention to some of the more neglected Morris texts, such as The Earthly Paradise and The Life and Death of Jason." -- Tennyson Research Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2012

Table of Contents

Foreword by Professor Francesco Marroni


Introduction: William Morris and His Readers

1.The Secret Admirer: Tennyson, Morris and the Arthurian Competition

2. The Sensual Imitator: Swinburne, Morris and the Fleshly School

3. The Unfriendly Observer: Gissing’s Response to Morris’s Social Commitment

4. The Faithful Reader: W. B. Yeats, Morris and the Seduction of the Fantastic