The temporary resurgence in Swinburne's popularity in the late sixties and early seventies manifested itself predominantly as explorations into what forms the poet's peculiar sexuality and painful romantic history took in his work. This thesis turns the focus of Swinburnian criticism to his texts, specifically to the heroines in two of his works whom I believe have gone largely underappreciated: Atalanta of Atalanta in Calydon, and Chthonic of Erechtheus. First, this thesis shifts focus from Swinburne's biography to the heroines' mythical Greek constructions, while at the same time complicating that classical context by presenting evidence that Swinburne, though he revered classical Greece, was not attempting to mimic the traditional Greek style. Then, this thesis explores Erechtheus and Atalanta in Calydon individually in order to show how the heroines of each piece exhibit significantly more agency over, and responsibility for, the course of events surrounding them than has previously been appreciated. In positions of power over the courses of events in which they are involved, their seeming dispassion is more generative when it is viewed as resolve, indicative of consciousness and feeling underneath a visage that has accepted what must be, and refuses to suffer for what cannot be.
Thesis (M.A.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2012
Table of Contents
Introduction -- 1. Victorian allowances made for the classically aberrant woman -- 2. The heroines of Atalanta in Calydon and Erechtheus -- Conclusion -- Literature cited.
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