Home  »  Volume XIV: English THE VICTORIAN AGE Part Two The Nineteenth Century, III  »  § 34. Kinglake’s Invasion of the Crimea

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 34. Kinglake’s Invasion of the Crimea

Though purporting not to be more than the narrative of an episode in the political and military history of the period, Alexander William Kinglake’s Invasion of the Crimea (1863–87) justified the labour of many years devoted to the work by one of the most brilliant, but by no means one of the most prolific, prose-writers of the earlier Victorian period. His Ethen (1844) is still read as a singularly delightful record of personal impressions derived from near-Eastern travel. His magnum opus, based on the papers of Lord Raglan, placed by his widow in Kinglake’s hands, was at once an apologia and an accurate and exhaustive narrative of its subject, elaborated with endless care and with the aid of personal observation (he was present at the battle of the Alma), and Homerically ample in its presentment. The opening volumes, with their examination of the causes of the war and their splendid indictment of the author of the coup d’état, formed a magnificent portico to the edifice; but the scale of the whole is excessive, and, more especially since the plan of the book left it incomplete as a history of the war, it has failed to secure a place among great historical works.