Enoch Arden is a narrative poem published in 1864 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, during his tenure as England's poet laureate. The story on which it was based was provided to Tennyson by Thomas Woolner. The poem lent its name to a principle in law that after being missing a certain number of years (typically seven), a person could be declared dead for purposes of remarriage and inheritance.
The hero of the poem, fisherman turned merchant sailor Enoch Arden, leaves his wife Annie and three children to go to sea with his old captain, who offers him work after he had lost his job due to an accident; in a manner that reflects the hero's masculine view of personal toil and hardship to support his family, Enoch Arden left his family to better serve them as a husband and father. However, during his voyage, Enoch Arden is shipwrecked on a desert island with two companions; both eventually die, leaving Arden alone there. This part of the story is reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe. Enoch Arden remains lost and missing for more than ten years.
He finds upon his return from the sea that, after his long absence, his wife, who believed him dead, is married happily to another man, his childhood friend Philip (Annie has known both men since her childhood, thus the rivalry), and has a child by him. Enoch's life remains unfulfilled, with one of his children now dead, and his wife and remaining children now being cared for by his onetime rival.
Enoch never reveals to his wife and children that he is really alive, as he loves her too much to spoil her new happiness. Enoch dies of a broken heart.
The story could be considered a variation on and antithesis to the classical myth of Odysseus, who after an absence of 20 years at the Trojan War and at sea, found a faithful wife who had been loyally waiting for him. The use of the name Enoch for a man who disappears from the lives of his loved ones is surely inspired by the biblical character Enoch. In fact, also the entire chronological structure of the protagonist's life with its cycles related to the biblical symbolism of the "days of Creation" binds to the name of Enoch, as demonstrated by the analysis of an Italian thinker long interested in this work, and denotes the impressive ability of Tennyson to insert theological intentions into simple elegiac mode with an unprecedented complexity in English literature.
In 1897, Richard Strauss set the poem as a recitation for speaker and piano, published as his Op. 38. On 24 May 1962, Columbia Records released a recording of Enoch Arden (recorded 2-4 October 1961) with Glenn Gould on the piano and Claude Rains as the speaker. The LP was made at a cost of $1500 and only 2000 copies were released. It remains a collector's item. In 2010, Chad Bowles and David Ripley released a CD. Conductor Emil de Cou arranged a version for chamber orchestra and narrator. This was performed with the Virginia Chamber Orchestra and actor Gary Sloan in 2010.
Longford Lyell Productions and Charles Perry produce The Bushwackers. Lottie and Longford are credited with the screenplay and Arthur Higgins once again photographs. The film is loosely based on Tennyson's Enoch Arden.
This variation on Tennyson's Enoch Arden theme was a thin play when W. Somerset Maugham offered it as "Too Many Husbands" in 1919. It was just as thin, but passing good fun, when Jean Arthur played in a screen version under the same title in 1940. Now, by switching the story to a show-business background, Edward Hope and Leonard Stern get a springboard for a lively musical. This time Mrs. Arden is Betty Grable, a musical-comedy star whose husband. Jack Lemmon, goes ...
... Charles Trenton in Taken at the Flood uses Enoch Arden (from a Tennyson poem of 1864 in which a stranger does not reveal his identity) ...
Afterword 'While the Light Lasts' was first published in the Novel Magazine in April 1924. To those familiar with the works of Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, Arden's true identity will not have come as a surprise. Tennyson was among Christie's favourite poets, together with Yeats and T. S. Eliot, and his Enoch Arden also inspired the Poirot novel Taken at the Flood (1948). The plot of 'While the Light Lasts' was later used to greater effect as part of Giant's Bread (1930), the first of her six novels ...
Enoch Arden was a character in a Tennyson poem who came hack to his family after having been long supposed dead. Films with an "Enoch Arden' theme include Tomorrow Is Forever (with Orson Welles), The Years Between (with Michael Redgrave), Too Many Husbands (with Fred MacMurray) and its remake Three for the Show (with Jack Lemmon), My Favorite Wife (with Irene Dunne) and its remake Move Over Darling (with Doris Day).