Interpretations of "Laus Veneris" -- a bibliographical note

Anthony H. Harrison, Professor of English, North Carolina State University


Note 7, chapter 2, in the author's Swinburne's Medievalism: A Study in Victorian Love Poetry which Louisiana State University Press published in 1979. It has been included in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.

Some important commentators have refused to see the poem's conclusion as a coherent rejection of orthodoxy or a sincere realization and affirmation of the ultimate value Tannhäuser places upon his attraction to Venus' beauty and the life of sensation she has come to symbolize. Among those critics are McGann (Swinburne, 255-58) and even Julian Baird, who focuses on important connections between Swinburne's Blake and "Laus Veneris" ("Swinburne, Sade, and Blake: The Pleasure Pain Paradox," Victorian Poetry, IX [1971], 49-75). Other important commentaries on "Laus Veneris" include Robert Peters, "The Tannhäuser Theme: Swinburne's 'Laus Veneris,'"" Pre-Raphaelite Review, III (1979), 12-28; Chris Snodgrass, "Swinburne's Circle of Desire: A Decadent Theme," in Ian Fletcher (ed.), Decadence and the 1890's (London, 1979), 61-88; Praz, The Romantic Agony, 228-29; Charlesworth, Dark Passages, 26-28; Thaïs E. Morgan, "Swinburne's Dramatic Monologues: Sex and Ideology," Victorian Poetry, XXII (1984), 175-95; and Barbara Fass, La Belle Dame Sans Merci and the Aesthetics of Romanticism (Detroit, 1974), 181-88.

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