ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)

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THE CRITICAL RESPONSE TO ROBERT BUCHANAN

 

“ Mr. Robert Buchanan is a type of artist that every age produces unfailingly: Catulle Mendes is his counterpart in  France,—but the pallid Portuguese Jew with his Christ-like face, and his fascinating fervour is more interesting than the spectacled Scotchman. Both began with volumes of excellent but characterless verse, and loud outcries about the dignity of art, and both have—well ... Mr. Robert Buchanan has collaborated with Gus Harris, and written the programme poetry for the Vaudeville Theatre; he has written a novel, the less said about which the better—he has attacked men whose shoestrings he is not fit to tie, and having failed to injure them, he retracted all he said, and launched forth into slimy benedictions. He took Fielding’s masterpiece, degraded it, and debased it; he wrote to the papers that Fielding was a genius in spite of his coarseness, thereby inferring that he was a much greater genius since he had sojourned in this Scotch house of literary ill-fame. Clarville, the author of ‘Madame Angot,’ transformed Madame Marneff into a virtuous woman; but he did not write to the papers to say that Balzac owed him a debt of gratitude on that account.”
                             From Confessions of a Young Man by George Moore (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1888)

 

Under The Microscope

by Algernon Charles Swinburne
(London: D. White, 1872)

(This is the 1899 reprint by Thomas B. Mosher which includes an appendix with Buchanan’s poems, ‘The Session of the Poets’ and ‘The Monkey and the Microscope’ and a section on Buchanan’s apology.
Available for download as a zipped .rtf file.)

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Robert Buchanan

From Poets and Novelists; a series of literary studies by George Barnett Smith
(Smith, Elder, & Co., London, 1875.)

(Originally published in The Contemporary Review (November, 1873 - Vol. XXII, pp. 873-902). John A. Cassidy in ‘Robert Buchanan and the Fleshly Controversy’ refers to it as follows:
“Reviews of his [Buchanan’s] signed works became noticeably more caustic. The London Quarterly, for instance, which had praised his London Poems and his Orm, was downright insulting in its review of his Poetical Works of 1874, a general collection of his poetry (XLIII, 213-214). The same trend is observable in the reviews by the Athenaeum, Academy, and Westminster Review. A futile attempt to stem the tide was the obvious “puff” given him in the pages of the Contemporary by George Barnett Smith.”

The full text of Poets and Novelists; a series of literary studies is available at the Internet Archive, which also has Volume XXII of The Contemporary Review.)

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Robert Buchanan’s Poetry

From Essays on Poetry and Poets by Roden Noel
(Kegan Paul, Trench and Company, 1886.)

(Originally published in The Gentleman’s Magazine (November, 1875.) The full text of Essays on Poetry and Poets is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Chapter X. Latter-Day Singers: Robert Buchanan

From Victorian Poets by Edmund Clarence Stedman
(James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, 1876.)

(The full text of Victorian Poets is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Our Modern Poets: Robert Buchanan

by Thomas Bayne
From The St. James’s Magazine (March, 1876.)

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Robert Buchanan

From The Poets and Poetry of Scotland Vol. II by James Grant Wilson
(Blackie and Son, London, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1876.)

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Robert Buchanan

From About The Theatre: Essays and Studies by William Archer
(T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1886.)

(The full text of About The Theatre: Essays and Studies is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan

From Popular Poets of the Period (edited by F. A. H. Eyles) by Alexander H. Japp (1839-1905)
(London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden, and Welsh, 1889.)

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To Mr. Robert Buchanan

From Letters to Living Authors by John A. Steuart (1861-1932)
(Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, London, 1890.)

(The full text of Letters to Living Authors is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan as Poet

From The Sonnet in England, & Other Essays by James Ashcroft Noble (1844-1896)
(Elkin Mathews and John Lane, London, 1893.)

(Expansion of the article in The Poets and the Poetry of the Century, Vol. VI: ‘William Morris to Robert Buchanan’, London: Hutchinson and Company, 1892 pp. 5l7-26. The second edition of which was reviewed in The Guardian of 4th August, 1896 thus:

     “We welcome the reissue in a second edition of the volume entitled “William Morris to Robert Buchanan” in Mr. Alfred H. Miles’s many-volumed Poets and Poetry of the Century (Hutchinson and Co., 8vo, pp. iv., 596, 5s). The selections from J. A. Symonds, Lord de Tabley, Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton, and Mr. Swinburne have been revised, and as a rule extended, and the volume will introduce many readers for the first time to good and unfamiliar poetry. There is, however, far too much of Roden Noel and Mr. Robert Buchanan.”

The full text of The Sonnet in England, & Other Essays is available at the Internet Archive, as is The Poets and the Poetry of the Century, Vol. VI: ‘William Morris to Robert Buchanan’)

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The Earlier Work of Robert Buchanan

by William Canton
From The Bookman (July, 1896 - pp. 108-109.)

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Robert William Buchanan

From The Masters of Victorian Literature (1837-1897) by Richard D. Graham
(Edinburgh: James Thin, London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., Ltd., 1897.)

(The full text of The Masters of Victorian Literature (1837-1897) is available at the Internet Archive.)

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The Devil and a Modern Knight Errant

From Literary London: Its Lights & Comedies by W. P. Ryan (London: Leonard Smithers, 1898).

(The full text of Literary London: Its Lights & Comedies is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan, the Poet of Modern Revolt

by Archibald Stodart-Walker
(London: Grant Richards, 1901.)

(The only book-length assessment of Buchanan’s poetry, available online or as a zipped .rtf file.

Robert Buchanan, the Poet of Modern Revolt is also available for download in a variety for formats at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan

From Robert Buchanan: A Critical Appreciation And Other Essays by Henry Murray
(Philip Wellby, 1901.)

(Available online or as a zipped .rtf file.

The full text of Robert Buchanan: A Critical Appreciation And Other Essays is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan

by Rev. A. L. Lilley
From The Humane Review (January, 1902 - pp. 302-310.)

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Robert Buchanan as a Dramatist

From Dramatic Criticism Vol. III, 1900-1901 by J. T. Grein
(London: Greening & Co. Ltd., 1902.)

(The full text of Dramatic Criticism Vol. III, 1900-1901 is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan

From A Literary History of Scotland by John Hepburn Millar
(London : T.F. Unwin, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1903.)

(The full text of A Literary History of Scotland is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan

From The Glasgow Poets: Their Lives and Poems edited by George Eyre-Todd
(Glasgow and Edinburgh: William Hodge & Co., 1903.)

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Robert Buchanan

From Studies in Prose and Verse by Arthur Symons
(London: J. M. Dent and Company, 1904.)

(The full text of Studies in Prose and Verse is available at the Internet Archive.)

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The Celtic Poets (Robert Buchanan)

From The Literature of the Victorian Era by Hugh Walker
(Cambridge University Press, 1910)

(The full text of The Literature of the Victorian Era is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan

From Reticence in Literature, and Other Papers by Arthur Waugh (1866-1943)
(J. G. Wilson, London, 1915.)

(The full text of Reticence in Literature, and Other Papers is available at the Internet Archive.)

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A Note on Robert Buchanan

From Appreciations of Poetry by Lafcadio Hearn
(Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, 1916.)

(The full text of Appreciations of Poetry is available at the Internet Archive.)

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Robert Buchanan

From ‘Chapter VI: Lesser Poets of the Middle and Later Nineteenth Century’ by George Saintsbury,
The Cambridge History of English Literature. Vol XIII The Nineteenth Century
(Cambridge University Press, 1916)

 

The Poetry of Robert Buchanan

by T. L. Adamson
From The Poetry Review (July-August, 1929.)

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Whitman and Buchanan

by Harold Blodgett
From American Literature (Vol. 2, No. 2, May, 1930 - pp. 131-140.)

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Robert Buchanan and the Fleshly Controversy

by John A. Cassidy
From Publications of the Modern Language Association (Vol. 67, No. 2, March, 1952 - pp. 65-93.)

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The Immediate Source of The Dynasts

by Hoxie N. Fairchild
From Publications of the Modern Language Association (Vol. 67, No. 2, March, 1952 - pp. 43-64.)

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Robert Buchanan’s Critical Principles

by George G. Storey
From Publications of the Modern Language Association (Vol. 68, No. 5, Dec., 1953 - pp. 1228-1232.)

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The Original Source of Hardy’s Dynasts

John A. Cassidy
From Publications of the Modern Language Association (Vol. 69, No. 5, Dec., 1954 - pp. 1085-1100.)

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Nature and the Victorian City: The Ambivalent Attitude of Robert Buchanan

by R. A. Forsyth
From English Literary History (Vol. 36, No. 2, June, 1969 - pp. 382-415.)

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Robert Buchanan and the Dilemma of the Brave New Victorian World

by R. A. Forsyth
From Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 (Vol. 9, No. 4, Autumn, 1969 - pp. 647-657.)

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Robert Buchanan (1841-1901) : An assessment of his career

by Christopher D. Murray
(Doctoral thesis from Queen Mary, University of London, 1974. 282 p. Available from the British Library’s EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) for free download - registration required.)

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D. G. Rossetti, A. C. Swinburne and R. W. Buchanan: The Fleshly School Revisited

by Christopher D. Murray
From Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester Vol. 65, No. 1 (Autumn 1982) and Vol. 65, No. 2 (Spring 1983).

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Robert Buchanan

From History of Scottish Literature by Maurice Lindsay (London: Robert Hale, 1977, revised edition 1992.)

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“Nothing better illustrates the harm which may result from the theory that shuns a purpose in art, than the neglect it brings about for books with an unpopular message. England, for example, has neglected the best work of one of the poets of the nineties, who intellectually ranks with her best poets. Who reads the later work of Robert Buchanan? Attention is riveted to his early lyrics, and good as these are, his more thoughtful poetry has been forgotten. A. Stoddart-Walker wrote after Buchanan’s death Robert Buchanan, the Poet of Modern Revolt, and Harriet Jay wrote a biography. Attention was called in these volumes to the later works of Buchanan, where he stood for liberty of thought. Nor was he didactic in his pleas, in such poems as The City of Dreams, The Wandering Jew, The Ballad of Mary the Mother, The Outcast, The Devil’s Case, and The New Rome. Lecky called The City of Dreams the modern Pilgrim’s Progress, and said that it would take a prominent position in the literature of the time. But no one knows these poems, and of Buchanan’s work only a few ballads are known. Buchanan is not any more didactic than Browning, but since he represents bold speculation (and also made too many personal enemies) he was throttled by Philistinism.”
                                   From The Literature of Ecstasy by Albert Mordell (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1921).

 

Home
Biography
Bibliography

 

Poetry
Plays
Fiction

 

Essays
Reviews
Letters

 

The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

 

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay
Miscellanea

 

Links
Site Diary
Site Search