Influences from Across the Pond

While chatting with Professor Scanlon in Office Hours this afternoon we had an interesting discussion that I wanted to open up to the class.

It is evident that Dickinson was a fan of the Brownings (Robert and Elizabeth) and the individual works they put out from Britain. Professor Scanlon has even mentioned that Dickinson wrote a poem when Elizabeth Browning died and is known to have had pictures of her framed in her bedroom. Likewise, I noticed in¬† F360A- “The soul has bandaged moments” that she mentions Goblins. This immediately made me think of Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” (which was published in the same year.) We have even seen her work compared to Keats because of its influence/similarities. A book called “Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins was also all the craze during Dickinson’s time in both Britain and America. All of the additional authors that I have mentioned are either British Romantic or British Victorian authors.

However, we don’t hear anything about Whitman’s interest or influence from British authors. Do you all think he read up on popular British authors? I was particularly¬†interested if Whitman knew about Robert Browning, who was thought of as an outliner because of his experimental narrative form and lack of elegant poetic rhyming seen by other British poets like Tennyson. Does anyone know of any other British authors that might have influenced these two? Are there any authors from different time periods or other places that might have influenced Whitman? What authors do you think Whitman would have enjoyed?

One Reply to “Influences from Across the Pond”

  1. Oh, this is intriguing. I guess the first place to to look into their homes from that time. If it’s become a museum, I’m going to guess you could find out what was in their personal library each. I know people used to borrow books from public libraries, but I don’t see Dickinson doing that after she became more of a home body. Did their towns even have public libraries? It would make a very interesting research project to find out what was part of personal use and what they may have had access to.

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