A Source for Brownings Holy-Cross Day

Date

2018-07-13

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

0029-3970

Volume Title

Publisher

Oxford University Press

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

In a letter of 21 October 1886, Robert Browning suggested that his poem ‘Holy-Cross Day’ was inspired in part by the sight of a Hebrew inscription on a church near the Ghetto in Rome. This note identifies the church in question as San Gregorio a Ponte Quattro Capi and assesses the evidence for the reliability of Browning’s claim. It then goes on to examine the significance of the inscription (Isaiah 65:2-3), a fierce criticism of the Jews as a ‘rebellious people’, for the poem as a whole, drawing attention to the role of the Book of Isaiah as a site of contention between Christians and Jews and to the poem’s affinities to proto-Zionist currents of thought in early nineteenth-century Britain. The note concludes by suggesting that recognition of the role of the inscription in the history of the poem adds weight to Browning’s rejection of a ‘conversionist’ reading of the poem in a letter to his friend and supporter F.J. Furnivall.

Description

The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

Keywords

Robert Browning, Victorian Poetry, Rome, Isaiah, Ghetto, Judaism, Roman Catholicism

Citation

Phelan, J.P. (2018) A Source for Browning's 'Holy-Cross Day', Notes and Queries, 65 (3), pp. 382-386

Rights

Research Institute

Institute of English