Monday, February 13, 2006

The Things You Can Learn Online.

So last night, instead of working on papers, I tried to make a list of all the homes of writers I've ever wanted to visit:

Vladimir Nabokov (TBA*)
Ernest Hemingway (Key West)
Sigmund Freud (London)
Victor Hugo (Paris)
Marcel Proust (TBA*)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Mansfield, MO)
Edgar Allen Poe (Philadelphia)
Mark Twain (Hannibal, MO & Hartford, CT)
Eugene Field (St. Louis)
Shakespeare (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Jane Austen (Bath)
Emily Dickinson (Amherst, MA)
John Keats (Rome)
Charles Dickens (London)

Also, speaking of authors' residences: is there any other sort of public figure whose homes we make into tourist destinations with the same sort of regularity? (All I can come up with is presidents.) So what made (and still makes) visiting these places so attractive? Think of the growing cult of the author in the nineteenth century and the increasing ability and desire to travel. Think of Wordsworth being hounded by fans knocking on the door of Dove Cottage asking for a look around. (They had just been so inspired by the poetry, they just needed to see the landscape for themselves, they said.) Think of Tennyson's anxiety about the domestication (and feminization, of course) of the author during this period, his discomfort with the author getting the reputation of being a homebody, his slew of poems about men needing to escape the home and establish themselves far outside the private sphere. Think of Godwin visiting Milton's house but also his grave in order to really appreciate him. Seriously, though, are you thinking? I mean: think, think think.

*Haven't quite figured out where their homes are or if they are even available for tour/visit