“A Royal Lady [Re]born”: Balladry, Transport, and Transgression in Michael Field’s The Tragic Mary HEATHER BOZANT WITCHER hen “Michael Field”— the pseudonym of Katharine Bradley and Edith W Cooper— visited Edinburgh in October 1889, they experienced a trans- portation into the city’s poetic past. Edinburgh, allegorized as a w oman in the opening lines of the preface to their play The Tragic Mary (1890), fascinates the couple and draws them to her: “Beautiful for situation, happy in the way the light visits her, noble in natu ral outline, and favoured even in the rise and declivity of her streets, it is nevertheless as the repository of her Queen’s trag- edy that Edinburgh fascinates us to herself.” Michael Field’s language of trans- port and suspension of volition as the city “fascinates” them and draws them toward its historically tragic queen are reminiscent of Walter Pater’s descrip- tion of the collective contagion of dramatic form and has traces of eighteenth- century sentimental language and moral philosophy. The compulsory attraction that enables Michael Field’s impressions of Mary Stuart can best be described as an affective sympathetic bond. Adam Smith’s definition of sym - pathy as a “fellow- feeling” describes a pro cess in
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Apr 18, 2018
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