To Strive, To Seek, To Bore

Michael Dirda at the Washington Post reviews John Batchelor of Tennyson and finds a few good bits about the poet’s life, especially how he would subject party guests to lengthy recitations of his own work.

Both shy and incredibly self-centered, he would alternately thrill and bore the other guests at dinner parties by reading aloud his latest long poem. Once he did this with his friend the classicist Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol, who listened gravely and then said, “I think I wouldn’t publish that, if I were you, Tennyson.” As Batchelor writes, after a moment of frigid silence, Tennyson answered, “If it comes to that, Master, the sherry you gave us at luncheon was beastly.”

More here.