[Thackeray created the illuminated “R” for Vanity Fair —  George P. Landow.]

Illuminated initial R

obert Buchanan (1841-1901), a poet of some reputation, and a novelist who had protested in 1872 against what he felt to be the sensuality of the pre-Raphaelites in a celebrated, article called "The Fleshly School of Poetry" (text) now committed offenses infinitely greater than those with which he had charged Rossetti (who had promptly replied in a counterblast called "The Stealthy School of Criticism"). Despite its crudities, Foxglove Manor showed that Buchanan realized, as perhaps Mrs. Lynn Linton did not, the extent to which the Ritualists depended upon sensuous impressions: color, form, fragrance, music. By using "colour and form," Santley, Buchanan's Tractarian clergyman, seduces a beautiful young woman and then repudiates her. But Santley reaches new heights of improbable inde- cency when he begins to find himself "gazing on the Madonnas in his own study, with a satyr's delight in their plumpness, their naked arms, their swelling breasts." It may be true, as Buchanan's adopted daughter and biographer (she was also his sister-in-law) declares, that his novels of the eighties were written merely as potboilers. But even that hardly excuses the vulgarity of Foxglove Manor. [194]

Bibliography

Wolff, Robert Lee. Gains and Losses: Novels of Faith and Doubt in Victorian England. New York and London: Garland, 1977.


Last modified 4 July 2014