Reviews Of Massey's Work

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You had no power to crown me with the bay:
You could not reach to snatch one leaf away;
But you may rob my little ones of bread,
Helping to damn the Book you have not read.
Be proud! that is no trivial thing to do!
Be safe! there is no law for Thieves like you.


From.... 'A Reviewer Reviewed'

 

Massey ca 1860.


The Bucks Advertiser and Aylesbury News
, May 1847, the local newspaper serving Tring, Massey's home town. This article is a critical review of Massey's first published volume of verse, 'ORIGINAL POEMS AND CHANSONS'.


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The Friend Of The People
, April and May 1851.  A two-part review of Massey's recently published (and earliest surviving) collection, 'VOICES OF FREEDOM AND LYRICS OF LOVE'.  This review ― unattributed, but probably by Julian Harney ― provides much of the background material on Massey that later reviewers were to draw on.


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The Ladies' Repository, August 1851. A brief comment on Massey's "poetic genius" together with an early poem.


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The Bucks Advertiser and Aylesbury News
, January 1853. A report in the local newspaper serving Tring, Massey's home town, of two of his lectures on 'MESMERISM', a subject on which he was to return to over the years. Massey's first wife, Rosina, was a noted medium and it was through Rosina that Massey developed his lifelong interest in spiritualism. 


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The Athenĉum (No.1371), London, Saturday, February 4th 1854.  William Hepworth Dixon reviews the 'BALLAD OF BABE CHRISTABEL, WITH OTHER LYRIC POEMS' (London, David Bogue).


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Hogg's Instructor (1854). A 'portrait' of Massey by George Gilfillan based on Masseys' Babe Christabel and other lyric poems.  Gilfillan (1813-78) — a friend of de Quincy and Carlyle and a Presbyterian Minister (this article deterioratesinto  pious sermonising) — was a highly influential critic during the middle years of the 19th Century. 


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Harper's New Monthly Magazine
, June to November 1854. Comments on 'POEMS AND BALLADS' published by J. C. Derby, New York.


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The Irish Quarterly Review
, Vol. V, 1855.  'POETS OF LABOUR' - following the biographical notes, the reviewer draws some interesting comparisons between the life and poetry of Massey and that of the Scottish artisan poet and radical journalist, Robert Nicoll, concluding with a stark warning, that politicians should listen and take heed!


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Harper's New Monthly Magazine, December 1854 to June 1855. Comments on 'WAR WAITS'.


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The Ladies' Repository
, June, 1855. 'GERALD MASSEY, THE CHARTIST POET', a comprehensive review of Massey's poetry (at that date) by the Rev. D. Curry, D.D.


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The Athenĉum
, October 1856. 'CRAIGCROOK CASTLE', a generally encouraging review by the Athenĉum's then resident music critic, Henry Fothergill Chorley.


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Littell's Living Age, December 1856. A review of Massey's 'CRAIGCROOK CASTLE' collection, then recently published in London by David Bogue.


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Putnam's Monthly Magazine
, July 1857. Comments on an unidentified volume of Massey's verse recently published by Ticknor and Fields of Boston (possibly 'THE POETICAL WORKS OF GERALD MASSEY').


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The North American Review, July 1857. Comments on 'POEMS' by Charles Swain and on 'THE POETICAL WORKS OF GERALD MASSEY'.


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The Poetical Works of Gerald Massey
: pub. Boston, Ticknor and Fields, 1857. 'OPINIONS OF THE PRESS' - some comments reproduced at the rear of the book.


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Putnam's Monthly Magazine
, July to January, 1857. An extract from....'WHAT IS POETRY?'


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Robert Burns: A Centenary Song, and other Lyrics
- pub. London, W. Kent and Co., 1859. 'OPINIONS OF THE PRESS' - some comments reproduced at the rear of the book.


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The Saturday Review, March 1859.  'ROBERT BURNS, A CENTENARY SONG; AND OTHER LYRICS.' According to this critic "A certain narrowness of mind is inseparable from all self-taught geniuses" - Robert Burns included.  Some valid observations, but overall a supercilious review.


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Littell's Living Age, May 25, 1861. A review of the 'POETICAL WORKS OF GERALD MASSEY'.


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The Athenĉum
(No.1764), London, August 17th 1861. William hepworth Dixon reviews 'HAVELOCK'S MARCH; AND OTHER POEMS' (London, Trübner & Co.) 


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The Athenĉum (No. 2009), London, April 28th, 1866. William Hepworth Dixon's fair, if somewhat naïve review of Massey's 'Shakspeare's Sonnets never before Interpreted : his Private Friends Identified : together with a recovered Likeness of Himself.' To Dixon the suggestion of a beautiful, worldly middle-aged woman seducing a teen-age boy, or perhaps even the reverse, appear quite unthinkable (...if this passion were genuine, it would be one of the strangest aberrations of the heart on record).


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The Illustrated London News
, May 5, 1866. Shakspeare's Sonnets and his Private Friends.  A well-balanced and generally sympathetic review.  After giving some helpful pointers, the reviewer leaves the verdict to be decided by a jury of Shakspearean "experts" and an "enlightened public."


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Notes and Queries,  May 5, 1866. A brief review of Massey's interpretation, 'Shakspeare's Sonnets, never before interpreted : his private Friends identified; together with a recorded Likeness of himself '.


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T
he Athenĉum: having read Massey's recently published book on the Shakespeare's Sonnets, Professor Philarète Chasles (1798-1873), eminent French critic and man of letters, writes to the Athenĉum (Feb. 1867) about aspects of 'The Sonnets', referring to "some very hard words against the small fry of sceptical critics who fail to chime in with the author's [Massey's] settled opinions" - the inevitable Massian broadside in response is not long in coming!  Both articles are re-published here.


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Living Age
, January-March 1867. 'Shakespeare in Domestic Life' - ostensibly a review of 'Shakespeare’s Sonnets, never before Interpreted; His Private Friends Identified: together with a Recovered Likeness of Himself'.  While the reviewer says comparatively little — some agreement, some disagreement — about this, Massey's first published volume of conjectures on the circumstances of the Sonnets, the article provides an interesting contemporary view of Shakespeare's life and times.


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The Ladies Repository
, May 1866. 'GERALD MASSEY', by Martha D. Hardie.


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Fortnightly Review
, August 1866.  A reasonably argued - but unflattering - review of 'SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS NEVER BEFORE INTERPRETED : HIS PRIVATE FRIENDS IDENTIFIED : together with a recovered likeness of himself.'


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The Galaxy, September 1, 1866, to December 15, 1866. Comments on Massey's 'Shakespeare's Sonnets Never Before Interpreted' : this appears to be an example of a review where its author has probably given the book no more than cursory glance through, commenting on a subject about which he knows little.


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The Sun
, 28 January, 1870.  A generally favourably review of "A Tale of Eternity and other Poems", although the paper's editor, Charles Kent, struggles at times to contain his total lack of sympathy for Massey's spiritualist convictions.


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The Athenĉum, April 9th, 1870. A fairly superficial review of Massey's new collection, 'A TALE OF ETERNITY AND OTHER POEMS'.


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Harper's New Monthly Magazine, March 1870. Comments on Massey's newly published 'A TALE OF ETERNITY'.


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The Globe
, 13 May 1872 (p.3), 'AMONG THE SPIRITUALISTS.'  A report of an entertaining but, so far as this critic was concerned, unconvincing lecture.  This article ties in with a report published some 20 years earlier in the Bucks Advertiser.


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Human Nature
, Vol. 6, April 1872. 'THE SECRET DRAMA OF SHAKESPEAR'S SONNETS, BY GERALD MASSEY.'  (The 1888 edition of this work is available here.)


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Gerald Massey in Chicago:
editorial article, originally published in the Chicago Daily Times (Tuesday Feb. 17, 1874), on Massey's lecture on 'The Devil' given at Grow's Opera Hall.


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Scribner's Monthly
, 1875. 'MINOR VICTORIAN POETS', a lengthy review of minor British poets by the noted American literary critic Edmund C. Stedman. Interesting for Stedman's short section on the Chartist poets, in which he's generally dismissive of Massey. [Part of the section dealing with the Chartist poets originally appeared at the end of Part I, but has been transferred to Part II to bring the material together].


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The Galaxy
, 1876.  W. C. BROWNELL's jaundiced views on the subject of 'ENGLISH LECTURERS IN AMERICA.' Although Massey receives short shrift (here), in this respect he's in good company.  His lecturing in the U.S.A. was sufficiently lucrative to justify three visits.


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Human Nature, July 1874. 'THE SERPENT SYMBOL: ITS SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL SIGNIFICANCE.'   This, the earliest published account of Massey lecturing on a mythological subject, took place at Boston, USA, in 1874.  At that time Massey had not researched his theme in depth, and the content still shows his opinions as theistically influenced.  He later presented this subject in greater detail in his "Natural Genesis" (1883).


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The Scotsman, May, 1881.  A highly sceptical review of Massey's newly published 'A BOOK OF THE BEGINNINGS'.


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Journal of Science, Vol. 3, June 1881: a review of the Preface to "The Book of Beginnings", giving Massey's broad conclusions. "We salute Mr. Massey as a fellow Evolutionist, though knowing nothing of him save what we glean from these pages, and we trust his views will meet with that impartial scrutiny which, we are sure, is all he demands."


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The Quarterly Journal of Science, Vol. V., July 1883 (pp.414-8): a review of "The Natural Genesis", Vol. I: "Reluctantly breaking off our survey of this remarkable book, we can merely hope that what we have said may at least excite the curiosity of the reader, and lead him to inquire for himself.  We would, indeed, bespeak for Mr. Massey's work the earnest attention of Evolutionists.  To us it seems that he is turning the only position of importance still held by our opponents, and that his movement, if properly followed up, will be decisive."


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Littell's Living Age, August 18, 1883. An extract from 'HALF A CENTURY OF LITERARY LIFE'.


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The Athenĉum
, 29 December, 1883:  a short and sceptical review of Massey's 'THE NATURAL GENESIS', the sole redeeming feature being to acknowledge that the "immense amount of materials, and the collection must always have a value for the anthropologist."


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The Brooklyn Eagle, 10 February, 1884. 'SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS IN A NEW LIGHT'..... "so many literary folk have taken turns at the sonnets, especially in the last fifty or sixty years, illuminating them with darkness rather than light, explaining them opaquely by far fetched theories, that Massey's generally direct, lucid method appears exceptional."      Junius Henri Browne.


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Gerald Massey as an Evolutionist
, December, 1885.  A short, well-balanced review from the New York Tribune of 'THE NATURAL GENESIS'.


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Medium and Daybreak
, June 18, 1886.  Not so much a review as an advertisement for Massey's 'ELECTION LYRICS.'


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Medium and Daybreak
, September 10, 1886.  'MASSEY ON SHAKESPEARE AND BURNS.'


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The Scotsman, 22 October, 1886.  A report of Massey lecturing on 'PAUL THE GNOSTIC NOT A WITNESS FOR HISTORIC CHRISTIANITY.'


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My Lyrical Life, Poems Old and New
(1889). 'A FEW OPINIONS': a collection of testimonials from such notables as Ruskin and Arnold, reproduced as part of the introduction to this two volume set.


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The Saturday Review, August 31, 1889. 'REVIEWS. A REVIVED POET.' Become a Spiritualist by all means, sympathise with Woman's Suffrage, even support home rule for Ireland - but keep it to yourself, or else the caustic soda will run!


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The Athenĉum, November 9, 1889. 'MY LYRICAL LIFE: POEMS OLD AND NEW.'  Presumably this reviewer never faced any difficulty in paying his household bills, nor felt for those whose lives were dominated by the factory bell.


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The Secret Drama of Shakspeare's Sonnets: testimonials on Massey's analyses of the Sonnets, reproduced as part of the introduction to his two volume set, 'My Lyrical Life, Poems Old and New' (1889).


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The Atlantic Monthly: May 1890. An extract from 'THE EASTER HARE' by Katharine Hillard.


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The Medium And Daybreak: February 5, 1892. 'GERALD MASSEY ON SHAKESPEAR' - An enthusiastic review of the 1890 edition of Massey's 'The Secret Drama of Shakespear's Sonnets.'


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The Bookman: November 1897. 'MR. GERALD MASSEY AT HOME' - an interview.


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Echoes of Iceland in Later Poets: an extract from 'The Influence of Old Norse Literature upon English Literature' by Conrad Hjalmar Nordby, 1901.


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The Poetry of Mr. Gerald Massey:
By John Churton Collins and published in 'STUDIES IN POETRY & CRITICISM' (1905). '.......His revolutionary lyrics have done their work.  The least that can be said for them is, that they are among the very best inspired by those wild times when Feargus O'Connor, Thomas Cooper, James [Bronterre] O'Brien and Ernest Jones were in their glory.   Of their effect in awakening and - making all allowance for their intemperance and extravagance - in educating our infant democracy and those who were to mould it there can be no question.'


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'Poet and Thinker - Gerald Massey's Memories And His "Magnum Opus"'.  An interview with Massey shortly before his death in 1907.


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A Short Critique of Gerald Massey’s work on Shakesapeare’s Sonnets by Ernie Wingeatt (December, 2008).


". . . . what Massey’s research lacks is complete intellectual honesty and rigour. This is emphasised when considering what Akrigg has to say at the end of his study of Shakespeare and Southampton where he touches precisely on the problems that a modern academic faces in achieving a truly objective account of what took place historically. He notes the need for caution by observing: “all those warning uses of ‘probably’, ‘apparently’, ‘might’ and ‘may’ which scholarly conscience requires” are what he as a scholar for a moment suspends in order to summarize the probable in terms of the relationship between the two men.

What should matter about Massey and his ideas on Shakespeare is that they be studied more for the worth of the understanding it gives to us of the age in which he [Massey] lived, its view of the world and how he [Massey] fits into that age, rather than for the work alone.  There is a rich seam of material here for the student of Victorian mores, the growth of English Literature as a subject for academic study and the working man’s part in those things. . . ."


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