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Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry$
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James Williams and Matthew Bevis

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198708568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198708568.001.0001

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The Sense and Nonsense of Weariness

The Sense and Nonsense of Weariness

Edward Lear and Gertrude Stein read Tennyson

(p.243) 11 The Sense and Nonsense of Weariness
Edward Lear and the Play of Poetry

Anna Barton

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes that, for Lear, nonsense begins at home. It considers Edward Lear’s nonsense writing in the context of post-structuralist feminist theorizations of the potentially disruptive desire of the private domestic setting, a desire that the chapter describes as ‘weariness’. Taking its cue from Roland Barthes’ account of the weary text, it considers the attenuated and exhausted condition of the figures that populate Lear’s nonsense works in order to think through the femininity of nonsense and to suggest a line of descent connecting Lear’s Victorian nonsense to the avant-garde, feminist poetry of Gertrude Stein via their shared fascination with Tennysonian weariness.

Keywords:   Edward Lear, Gertrude Stein, Alfred Tennyson, feminist theory, Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes

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