Peter Levi   Tennyson.
Scribner’s, 370 pages, $30

Michael Thorn   Tennyson.
A Thomas Dunne Book/ St. Martin’s Press, 566 pages, $30

reviewed by Michael Glover

It seems to be difficult for the contemporary biographer to strike the right balance between hagiography and willful disparagement. In our day, biographies are dashed off with malice aforethought (the straightforward malice of the Albert Goldman kind or the more devious, hand-wringing, pietistical species of dirt-digging of an Andrew Motion); and it has, by corollary, become something of a national pastime on the part of the dull-witted and gullible reader to affect horror and indignation when human beings are discovered to be no more than poor, tasteless confections of muddleheadedness and self-delusion. More’s the wonder then that they manage to achieve as much as they do.

The...

 
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