Ch. 1, Pg. 5: Tennyson, indeed, my father liked

…But it was the Tennyson of In Memoriam and Locksley Hall. I never heard from him of the Lotus Eaters or the Morte D’Arthur.”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

That is, the more realistic Tennyson rather than the Tennyson of fantasy and myth.

“In Memoriam A. H. H.” is an extended meditation on the death of Tennyson’s friend Arthur Henry Hallam; it addresses the very Victorian themes of conflict within religious faith and omnipresent death and grief. “Locksley Hall” is a bitter lament for a lost love who has chosen a less worthy man than the narrator; it includes casual sexism that hints at its Victorian origins. “Locksley Hall” contains disconnected dream imagery verging on the fantastic, but is far more grounded overall than the “The Lotus Eaters” or the Arthurian poems.

“The Lotus Eaters” is based on Odysseus’s encounter with an island of, unsurprsingly, lotus eaters. The poem resembles Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in its fantastic content, maritime themes, eerie tone and its firmly established place in the English canon. 

Lewis might have slightly misspoken with his reference to the “Morte D’Arthur.” Tennyson did write a poem titled “Morte D’Arthur,” but it was part of his larger collection of Arthurian poems titled Idylls of the King, based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. Lewis likely meant to refer to the larger work.


Ch. 1, pg. 4: raconteur

Raconteur is French for storyteller. (Literally, “recounter.”) The word implies great skill in yarn-spinning–certainly a quality that Albert Lewis passed to his son.

Published in: on November 29, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ch. 1, Pg. 4: W. W. Jacobs

W. W. Jacobs usually wrote humorous stories about life at sea. Punch magazine wrote that his stories featured “men who go down to the sea in ships of moderate tonnage; stories told with such fresh and unforced fun that their drollery is perfectly irresistible.” The great English humorist P.G. Wodehouse mentions Jacobs with respect in his autobiography, Bring On The Girls.

Strangely enough, Jacobs is most famous today for his eerie stories, including “The Monkey’s Paw” and “The Toll House.”

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Page 4: in following the career of Phineas Finn

Anthony Trollope’s character Phineas Finn runs for and wins a seat in Parliament. Like Lewis’s father, Finn is Irish. Finn appears in an eponymous novel and its sequel, Phineas Redux.

Full text of Phineas Finn at Project Gutenberg

Full text of Phineas Redux at Project Gutenberg


Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ch. 1, Pg. 4: Quixotic

Don Quixote and Sancho, by Gustave Dore

Generally, quixotic is an adjective meaning optimistic to the point of foolishness, derived from Miguel de Cervantes’s character Don Quixote. However, Lewis here refers to another aspect of the character of Don Quixote–his overdeveloped sense of chivalry and correspondingly, his Spanish sense of honor.

Full text of Don Quixote (English translation) at Project Gutenberg

Published in: on November 23, 2008 at 8:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Ch. 1, pg. 3: the son of a solicitor

A solicitor is one of the two types of lawyers in the United Kingdom. The other type is the barrister. A barrister speaks in court; a solicitor does everything else.

Published in: on October 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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