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Labyrinths of DeceitCulture, Modernity and Identity in the Nineteenth Century$
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Richard J. Walker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780853238492

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315404

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A life of death: Alfred Tennyson's ‘St Simeon Stylites’

A life of death: Alfred Tennyson's ‘St Simeon Stylites’

(p.124) 4 A life of death: Alfred Tennyson's ‘St Simeon Stylites’
Labyrinths of Deceit
Liverpool University Press

Alfred Tennyson's poem ‘St Simeon Stylites’, part of the second volume of Poems (1842) appears to exemplify religious madness made up from self-delusion. Using a first person monologue, it presents Simeon as someone who exists in a paradoxical position of glorifying and centralising masochistic self-denial. Simeon's aspiration to erase the self and its material needs, coupled with an overwhelming and arrogant ambition to achieve sainthood, is paradoxical. ‘St Simeon Stylites’ demonstrates how religion and religious structures could stimulate the disintegration of a defined and definable identity. More specifically, it is a reflection of the stipulations and aesthetics of Christianity.

Keywords:   Alfred Tennyson, St Simeon Stylites, religious madness, self-delusion, religion, self, Christianity, self-denial, identity, sainthood

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