The pleasures of literary tourism


Public Books has a good piece by Maia Silber on Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, and literary tourism:

The Belle and the Bard – Maia Silber – Public Books – October 6, 2016 

Among other good bits, it contains this anecdote from Washington Irving’s trip to Shakespeare’s home:

Irving raised an eyebrow at his guide’s claim of linear descent from Shakespeare after she showed him a manuscript of her own writing. But he chose—despite his skepticism—to believe in the illusion. Though he mocked the guests who sat in Shakespeare’s chair “with the hope of imbibing any of the inspiration of the Bard,” he, too, felt inspired by the writer’s ghostly presence. Walking past the quaint cottages of Shakespeare’s boyhood, he could not help but feel “the whole country here is poetic ground,” and at the Bard’s gravesite, he marveled at “the dust of Shakespeare.”

“I am… a ready believer in relics, legends, and local anecdotes of goblins and great men,” Irving wrote, “and would advise all travellers who travel for their gratification to be the same.”

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