"Mimic Heaven" — a note to Tennyson's "The Palace of Art"

George P. Landow, Professor of English and the History of Art, Brown University

Like Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost, the Soul here commits the obvious sin of pride in foolishly trying to rival God. The overall pattern of "The Palace of Art" resembles that of so many Victorian works in being essentially a Paradise Lost. The difference in Tennyson's version lies in the fact that his lover of beauty is driven from paradise not by an angel with a flaming sword or other external force but by the psychological consequences of proud isolation — depression and self-loathing. Tennyson here anticipates by five decades the story and plot resolution of J.K. Huysman's decadent parable, A rebours (usually translated as Against the Grain).

[Back to the passage in "The Palace of Art"]


www.huysman.org ("A web site that aims to provide up-to-date and reliable information about the life and work of the French novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans")

Victorian Website Overview Alfred Lord Tennyson

Last modified 11 October 2005