Revisions in the 1842 version of Lady Shalott

James R. Kincaid, Aerol Arnold Professor of English, University of Southern California

Note 5 to Chapter 3 of the author's Tennyson's Major Poems, which Yale University Press published in 1975. It has been included in the Victorian Web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.

This new ending is one of the major revisions in the 1842 version. The original had presented the same irony, but rather crudely, referring to "the wellfed wits at Camelot." It had also redundantly drawn attention to the Lady's futile attempts to establish her personality: "this is I, / The Lady of Shalott" had concluded the first version (see Ricks, p. 361). John Stuart Mill called the first ending "a lame and impotent conclusion" (Mill, p. 413), which indeed it was.

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Last modified: 28 March 2001