One book leads to another – or rather, the ignorance revealed in reading one book leads to a desire for remediation – ie, another book. After finishing Strachey's Queen Victoria & Eminent Victorians, & spending the usual amounts of time in class discussing how modernism is a reaction to Victorian culture in general, I found myself reminded how butt-ignorant of Victorian literature in general I am. Okay, so I've read at least one book by all of the "major" novelists & a smattering of poetry by most of the poets (lots & lots of Tennyson, Hopkins, Barrett Browning, & Browning, truth to tell) – and of course more Ruskin than is good for anyone – but it's kind of embarassing that I've probably read more Wilkie Collins novels than Hardies, Eliots, & Dickenses put together. And I can never keep straight which parties Disraeli, Gladstone, & the rest belonged to, much less remember what they stood for.
Solution? Crutches: Jerome Buckley's The Victorian Temper & Richard Altick's Victorian People and Ideas (the former one of my dad's books – he was a largely autodidact Dickens scholar – the latter some sort of hangover from my undergrad days). Yes, very old, very one-sided surveys. But much of it is news to me. Thus far my favorite (in theory) new discovery: The "Spasmodic School" of poets. The work looks godawful, but who can resist the name? Bill Keckler, I hereby invite you to join me in a new grouping of "innovative" poets: THE NEW SPASMODICS.