Victorian Soul-Talk: Poetry, Democracy, and the Body Politic

Julia Frances Saville

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


This book explores the decades between the Reform Acts of 1832 and 1884 when British poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Arthur Hugh Clough, Robert Browning, and Algernon Charles Swinburne, along with their transatlantic contemporary Walt Whitman, defended the civil rights of disenfranchised souls as Western nations slowly evolved toward modern democracies with shared transnational connections. For in the decades before the new science of psychology transformed the soul into the psyche, poets claimed the spiritual well-being of the body politic as their special moral responsibility. Exploiting the rich aesthetic potential of language, they created poetry with striking sensory appeal to make their readers experience the complex effects of political decisions on public spirit. Within contexts such as Risorgimento Italy, Civil War America, and Second Empire France, these poets spoke from their souls to the souls of their readers to reveal insights that eluded the prosaic forms of fiction, essay, and journalism.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages307
ISBN (Electronic)9783319525068
ISBN (Print)9783319525051
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • politics
  • poetry
  • body
  • Browning
  • Emerson
  • Swinburne


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