This is worth mentioning in part because it attests to the astonishing fecundity of Swinburne's late twenties, which yielded two career-defining volumes of poetry (to say nothing of Chastelard
, still another collection of poems) and a monograph of some 350 pages on a subject as formidable as Blake.
Atalanta in Calydon certainly has little in common with spasmodic dramas in its classical plot and formal structure (though Swinburne's other early play, Chastelard
, comes closer in its focus on deviant passion).
Ifor Evans, in an otherwise judicious study of later nineteenth-century poetry, sees Swinburne's dramatic works (notably the trilogy of Chastelard
(1865), Bothwell (1871-74), and Mary Stuart (1881)) as mere study-pieces and experiments in which Swinburne is guilty of having "succumbed to the temptations of rhetoric," a judgment echoed throughout the 1860s and 1870s and which plagued Swinburne's literary reputation, even as it was overshadowed by suspicions that he had succumbed to temptations far less mentionable than those of "rhetoric.
His international profile can be seen in the making as King Ludwig of Bavaria decides to have Chastelard
translated into German, a translation duly followed by a German Atalanta in 1878, and Gabriel Mouray's French version of Poems and Ballads.