Impostures: Robert Browning and the Poetics of Forgery
Blanton, C. D., Studies in the Literary Imagination
The true has no value beyond the sham: As well the counter as coin, I submit.
--Robert Browning The Statue and the Bust (21)
FORGERY AND FUTURITY
The belated revelation--modestly promulgated in 1934 by John Carter and Graham Pollard under the specter of a libel action--that scores of "rare" and collectible editions had in fact been forged and surreptitiously dispersed among the catalogues of universities, libraries, and auction houses in both Britain and America codified a minor canon of Victorian literature, broad enough to include the major figures of any anthology, select enough to print in a series of pamphlets. At the same time, the insinuation--painstakingly grounded in the textual minutiae of rag and wood pulp, kernless fonts, and anomalous punctuation marks--that Thomas J. Wise, the most authoritative critical bibliographer of his time, had for years maintained a prolific industry in counterfeits marked the culmination of a distinctively modernist and technologically informed mode of paleography, the emergence of an elaborate form of detection suited to a "wholly bibliographical" crime (Haywood 80). That those editions could, in the wake of Carter and Pollard's investigation, retain and indeed increase their collective worth through the very fact of their forgery--effectively trading authenticity for curiosity or scholarly use-value--suggests that Wise may have accomplished more even than his accusers have suggested: that the value generated and accrued in the act of forgery is less measurable by collectors' markets than by an index of a different sort, in the exercise of a critical practice "dependent for its development on the stimulus that forgers have provided" (Grafton 123) and in the differential calculations through which one period or mode of production distinguishes itself from another. But if the immediate controversies raised in 1934 have largely been settled, the critical question of the significance of forgery itself--or rather of forgery's implied claim to originality--remains an open one. The identification of a forgery, after all, merely underscores the epistemological difficulty that subtends any pure category of originality: the logical need to define an original on its own terms simultaneously requires and forecloses a reference to some provenance that might sustain an origin as historical fact. As Umberto Eco notes, "[t]o prove that an object is original means considering it as a sign of its own origin. To take something as the sign of its own origin means to take it as a symptom, an imprint, a clue, as the starting point for a series of inferences, conjectures, hypotheses, abductions" (616). In effect, forgeries can signify their origins; originals cannot. A standard of originality is possible only in the negative, as a test for forgery. Obviously enough, then, a forgery initiates a paradox. It functions only so long as it conceals itself, remains something other than itself. With the declaration of its actual status, it ceases to operate as a forgery at all. Once declared, however, a forgery may become (like Wise's pamphlets) an original of another sort: an original with the capacity to figure its own relation to origin perhaps. It may, as forgery, undertake another practice of meaning altogether (or, more precisely, of making), a poiesis that solicits or provokes criticism and accordingly negotiates temporality in a different way In its need for anonymity, a forgery merely shadows a prior dissimulation lodged within the notion of originality, an originality confirmed only in the possibility of its own abduction and in the corollary impossibility of testifying to itself. But in its contrary need for exposure, a poetics of forgery may also resituate the historical conundrum of originality entirely.
The problem lies not in the forgeries but in the originals, in their absence. What Carter and Pollard identified were not primarily, after all, simple reprints or pirate editions but rather texts that asserted a prior claim of authority, an imprint or a date sufficient to recast the history of the work in question. The brilliance of Wise's scheme lies in its resistance to falsification: the very absence of an original underwrites a spurious claim to originality. Indeed, the simple fact that the forgeries were not (with a few incidental exceptions) immediately apparent derives in some measure from the enterprise's ambition, its capacity to normalize the forgeries as a discrete and plausible genre. What was forged, then, was not a work but rather literary work as such, a mode of authorship embedded in a fetish of originality. Accordingly, the most decisive of Carter and Pollard's discoveries lay not in the exposure of Wise's pamphlets themselves but in the critique of a structure of literary authorization that the pamphlets had for several decades partially regulated, the system of bibliography that produced both Wise and his undoing. Unmasked, that is, Wise serves not simply as criticism's object but also as its instrument, the triangulation mechanism through which literary history situates, surveys, and disowns a receding past. If forgery therefore provides, as Anthony Grafton suggests, the prior condition for a certain criticism by verification, linking one age to another through historical scholarship, then it also enables an immanent critique of another order, a "criticism by other means" (Ruthven 171). The logic of periodization that requires of one epoch a transvaluation of prior values finds its model lurking already in the negations of value inscribed within its predecessor. Criticism so conceived bears with it not only the careful measurement of the artifactual past but also the discovery of those slow corrosions of meaning buried there already. The residual elements of what K. K. Ruthven labels "spuriosity" remain, by definition, objects detached from their own moment. But, as such, they anachronistically conceive a temporal exteriority, burrowing into an earlier stratum of historical sediment most obviously but issuing also into a later one. The exposure of a collection of Victorian pamphlets therefore may constitute an act of modernist legitimation as well, but one already determined in some sense by the forgeries themselves, by documents awaiting the moment of their own arrival, waiting to assert their autonomy as forgeries. In a radically provisional fashion, it seems, Wise (like all good counterfeiters) may also have forged the future.
More certain in retrospect are the facts of the case itself. Over the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Wise and his mentor Henry Buxton Forman leveraged positions of prominence within F. J. Furnivall's Browning and Shelley Societies, the intimate business connections of those societies with a range of British printers, and distant acquaintances with the leading literary figures of the period into a profitable enterprise (see Carter and Pollard; also Barker and Collins 1983, Collins 1992). For each, literature seems to have offered a lucrative diversion. Wise, a dealer in essential oils for the firm of H. Rubeck & Co., founded the Ashley Library and used its extensive collections to establish a personal dominance over the rare book trade. Forman, a senior civil servant in the General Post Office, produced standard editions of Shelley's poetry (1876) and prose (1880) and a collection of Keats's letters (1878). Between them, Wise and Forman also devised a unique entrepreneurial model, introducing putative originals of known works--limited editions or private printings that might accordingly claim the special privileges of rarity and priority--and distributing such treasures among the private holdings of the newly wealthy and cultured (in America particularly), authenticating such interpolations with bibliographies and catalogues contrived at least partially to normalize the forgeries (see Wise 1897, 1918, 1929). With effective control over both demand and supply, the two proceeded to invent a market as well, a system of fraudulent exchange carefully calibrated to the desires of a class of consumers in search of emblems of originality.
The crucial exhibit among the dossiers compiled by Carter and Pollard--a spurious edition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets, bearing the imprint of "Reading 1847"--would prove the most valuable, the most elaborate, and the most damning of Wise's forgeries. The Sonnets from the Portuguese had first appeared in the second edition of Barrett Browning's Poems (1850), dating individually to her courtship with Robert Browning in 1845-1846 but unknown to him before 1849. For Wise, the invention of an earlier edition of the sequence required a careful revision of literary history as well, turning on the propagation of an alternate provenance for the volume. In fact, the sonnets had been printed at the firm of Richard Clay & Sons in the 1880s or 1890s under Wise's direction. By interposing an earlier edition of the sonnets between their composition and the legendary scene of their presentation to Browning, however, Wise also dispenses with the famous conceit of the volume's title, "supposed to conceal the intimate nature of the feeling which inspired them" (Carter and Pollard 8), "the subterfuge of a name" (Letters 48) suggested by Browning himself. Ironically, the spurious volume therefore refuses the false pretense of the genuine one, restoring to the poems a claim for originality that Barrett Browning would not make. Perhaps more remarkably still, Wise's sonnets--"Sonnets by E. B. B."--compound that elision by adding another: reducing the author to mere initials, as if the poet had foreseen the theft of her name.
Among the forgeries also are three pamphlets in the name of Robert Browning, purporting to represent private issues of "The Statue and the Bust" and "Cleon" (both bearing the imprint of Edward Moxon, 1855) from Men and Women and "Gold Hair: A Legend of Pornic" (dated 1864) from Dramatis Personae. The selection of poems is remarkable enough: turning respectively on the transformation of distant lovers into mutually regarding works of art, on the mortification of the artist in the face of both his art and the impending epochal revolution of Christianity, and on the discovery of avarice and monetary concealment at the root of modern Christian theodicy and faith. Each poem traces the form of a pretense, justifying a false premise as productive in its own right. The romantic counterfeit that links statue to bust, the aestheticized belatedness that precludes Cleon's joy, the hoarded wealth that underpins the legendary saint of Pornic, all mark prior contaminations, modes of "Original Sin" (in the language of "Gold Hair" ) predicated on the functional equivalence of the genuine and the false. Intentionally or not, then, each poem stages a cryptic transposition at best repeated in a later and illicit act of appropriation, bracketing the category of authenticity altogether and enacting a productive misrecognition. The spurious repetition of such a gesture under a false imprint therefore recurs in each case to a theoretical claim advanced already in the poems, insisting ironically on the prior adulteration of any category of final authenticity. Linked only accidentally by their length and the convenience of their typographical reproduction, the poems nonetheless share a cryptic structure of anticipation: in the expectation of a posthumous representation in art, an impending revolution in history, a future excavation of secret wealth. Thematically, each poem assumes a mode of dissemblance, an interpretive layer suggested by the text but grounded materially in its textual afterlife, as if genuineness itself might be confirmed concretely only in falsification. In such a context, even the genuine editions of Aurora Leigh (1898) and Sordello (1902) prepared by Forman as well as Wise's reprint of Bells and Pomegranates (1896), replete (like his several Browning bibliographies) with references to the forged pamphlets (Bells, First Series xii), compulsively reiterate the instability of a notion of poetic origins, each proffering an alternate poetic source, a figure of ironic contrivance or self-inscription too easily taken as the counterfeit surrogate for an author. To some degree, of course, that effect merely retraces the set of characteristic evasions implicit in the structure of dramatic or romantic irony But an irony discernible only as forgery, through the historical lens of criticism or forensic technology, is no longer merely ironic. And, indeed, Wise's serial misappropriations offer a mere epilogue to the Brownings' history among forgers.
In 1852, Robert Browning contributed an "introductory essay" to Moxon's edition of a cache of letters attributed to Percy Bysshe Shelley That piece, extracted and canonized since as the "Essay on Shelley" (reprinted by the Shelley Society in 1888), represents the poet's only major foray into the more prosaic regions of literary criticism. Its distinction between the subjective poet or "seer" (a category for which Shelley himself provides the exemplum) and the objective poet or "fashioner" has long operated as a taxonomy through which Browning's own poets, artists, and monologists may assume their proper and contradictory stations. The letters that accompanied Browning's commentary, however, derived in reality not from Shelley but rather from the hand of "Major Byron," "the second most mischievous Victorian literary forger" (Altick 161), and, within weeks of its publication, Moxon quietly withdrew the volume. The essay itself, however, has continued to enjoy the privileged place of a critical singularity. Less noted is the implication of the essay's central interpretive claim regarding the letters themselves, that in the case of the Shelleyan poet "what he produces will be less a work than an effluence. That effluence cannot easily be considered in abstraction from his personality--being indeed the very radiance and aroma of his personality, projected from it but not separated" (8). The particular effluence of Browning's Shelley, alloyed in this case with Byron's spurious letters, clearly marks less a radiance of personality than a diremption of or digression from it. Under Browning's account, however, the concept of personality that underpins the work of the subjective poet posits a functional critical equivalence between poems and letters, guaranteed by the network of personal associations that anchors each:
The responsibility of presenting to the public a biography of Shelley, does not, however lie with me: I have only to make it a little easier by arranging these few supplementary letters, with a recognition of the value of the whole collection. This value I take to consist in a most truthful conformity of the Correspondence, in its limited degree, with the moral and intellectual character of the writer as displayed in the highest manifestations of his genius. Letters and poems are obviously an act of the same mind, produced by the same law, only differing in the application to the individual or collective understanding. Letters and poems may be used indifferently as the basement of our opinion upon the writer's character; the finished expression of a sentiment in the poems, giving light and significance to the rudiments of the same in the letters, and these again, in their incipiency and unripeness, authenticating the exalted mood and reattaching it to the personality of the writer. (26-27)
In retrospect, of course, it is precisely "the most truthful conformity of the Correspondence ... with the moral and intellectual character of the writer" that renders the deception possible as an "act of the same mind." The ambiguous attachment of value to such a conformity, however, suggests the possibility of an alternate effluence, potentially even of a collective or counterfactual Shelley (part Browning, part Major Byron), produced in the "incipiency and unripeness" of false letters. And, indeed, the canonical afterlife of Browning's essay confirms such a revaluation, effectively reauthorizing the argument in the plausibility of its relevance not to Shelley the seer but to Browning the fashioner or even (in the terms of Sordello) to some "poet-synthetist" yet unknown. For Browning, the critical value of the letters lies not in their incidental relation to Shelley but rather in their necessary connection to a poetry to come.
The ingenuous sensibility that allows Browning to recuperate and disfigure Shelley at once is not merely an accidental effect of the textual history of the correspondence. Read in retrospect, Browning's argument unerringly anticipates its own fated alliance to a series of forged documents, slyly authorizing its own subsequent reinterpretation. Accordingly, the bristling argument for Shelley's misinterpreted morality spawns an even more daring reclamation:
... so I call him a man of religious mind, because every audacious negative cast up by him against the Divine, was interpenetrated with a mood of reverence and adoration,--and because I find him everywhere taking for granted some of the capital dogmas of Christianity, while most vehemently denying their historical basement. There is such a thing as an efficacious knowledge of and belief in the politics of Junius, or the poetry of Rowley, though a man should at the same time dispute the title of Chatterton to the one, and consider the author of the other, as Byron wittily did, "really, truly, nobody at all." (36-37)
Shelley's restoration to theological legitimacy depends, under Browning's account, upon the very intensity of his irreligion, the quasi-dialectical power of "every audacious negative." In such a context, the paradox of a Shelleyan theology completes an even bolder conceptual triad, fulfilling an implicit historical progression through a politics predicated on the nonexistence of Junius and a poetics grounded in the dissimulations of Chatterton (maker, after all, of a maker). For Browning, the genealogy of an epochal shift proceeds through a loosely determined set of oscillating misapprehensions, tactical falsehoods that nevertheless generate the raw material of a future poetic and a future knowledge. Shelley's critical value thus derives not from mere subjective indulgence but from a negative form of objective historical necessity:
getting at new substance by breaking up the assumed wholes into parts of independent and unclassed value, careless of the unknown laws for re-combining them (it will be the business of yet another poet to suggest those hereafter), prodigal of objects for men's outer and not inner sight, shaping for their uses a new and different creation from the last, which it displaces by the right of life over death,--to endure until, in the inevitable process, its very sufficiency to itself shall require, at length, an exposition of its affinity to something higher,--when the positive yet conflicting facts shall again precipitate themselves under a harmonizing law, and one more degree will be apparent for a poet to climb in that mighty ladder, of which, however cloud-involved and undefined may glimmer the topmost step, the world dares no longer doubt that its gradations ascend. (13-14)
For all of its characteristic confidence in "that mighty ladder," Brownings argument thus entails a practical destruction as well, an implicit effacement of the terms that previously have governed his argument: of subject and object, presentation and representation. With that sublation, however, the figure of the poet is progressively undefined, rendered obscure by the collapse of the very antinomy first deployed in Shelley's defense. The discovery of "new substance" and positive recombination of "parts of independent and unclassed value," all undertaken by "yet another poet," prove revolutionary precisely to the degree that they remain opaque and inconceivable both to Shelley and to Browning's criticism. Such a poetry will depend upon an affinity, but the source of that affinity remains necessarily obscure, bound temporally to an as yet unrealized and impossible law. Such a poetry must first be false.
Browning's faith in the emergence of a still unconditioned poetics proceeds paradoxically through the elision of the very figure of the Shelleyan seer. The tactical disavowal of biography in fact replicates itself theoretically in the "efficacious" nullity of a Junius or a Chatterton, and replicates itself again in the essay's own pragmatic task: the critical disentanglement of poetic value from a bundle of forged letters. Perversely, Browning's innocence of the deception serves only to underscore the wicked logic of his argument. The proleptic resituation of meaning and value in the theological futurity of a non-existent poetry rewrites the maker and the seer at once, as the subjective and objective conduits of a world and a history yet unthought. Remarkably enough, Browning is right. The "truthful conformity" of Shelley's letters to his life is confirmed not in their authenticity but rather in their spuriosity, in their potential attachment to an unknown and anonymous hand, perhaps even Browning's own.
The forger will thus be inseparable from a chain of forgers into whom he metamorphoses. There is no unique forger, and, if the forger reveals something, it is the existence behind him of another forger.
--Gilles Deleuze (133-134)
A century after its original publication in 1842, Donald Smalley identified a long forgotten and anonymous essay in John Forster's Foreign Quarterly Review as Browning's work. That piece, nominally a review of Richard Henry Wilde's Conjectures and Researches Concerning the Love, Madness, and Imprisonment of Torquato Tasso, in fact concerns itself more fully with the case of Thomas Chatterton, author of Bristol's Rowley and notorious icon of Romantic fantasy. Under Smalley's account, the essay marks a useful way-station in the account of Browning's development, mixing the voice of Shelley's ingenuous acolyte, the poet of Pauline perhaps, with that of the mature ironist, the dramaturge of The Ring and the Book. For Smalley, the so-called "Essay on Chatterton" thus offers an exercise in method to be read alongside the experiments of Bells and Pomegranates, an early attempt at that form of "special pleading" unveiled the same year in the monologues of Dramatic Lyrics and perfected later in The Ring and the Book. What such an account Jails to explain, of course, is the selection of Chatterton himself as the object of such pleading. Browning's own excuse is cursory at best:
Thinking thus, and grieving over what must be admitted to be the scantiness of the piece of sunshine here, and the narrow and not very novel track it would alone serve to lead us into,--a book was sent to us on a subject not very different from Mr. Wilde's, but on which the service he has sought to render to the memory of Tasso has not been attempted for a memory more foully outraged. We make no apology for a proposed effort to render some such service. It is no very abrupt desertion of the misfortunes of Tasso, to turn to the misfortunes of Chatterton. (108-109)
The forger's emergence is doubly unconditioned: as a topically unprefaced digression upon Tasso and (excepting two contemporaneous lines in Dramatic Lyrics) as an unprecedented subject for Browning's experiments. Produced in a hesitation, in mid-sentence, Chatterton usurps the argument, diverting the question of Tasso's reticence onto a very different plane of "misfortune." But, with Browning's misappropriation, a buried premise comes also into view: "All these disputed questions in the lives of men of genius--all these so-called calamities of authors--have a common relationship, a connexion so close and inalienable, that they seldom fail to throw important light on each other" (109). Any poet in distress or under false pretense, it would seem, may sign for any other.
The opening defense of Chatterton himself is somewhat more forthright. Committed to the position that "poor Chatterton's life was not the Lie it is so universally supposed to have been" (109), Browning's argument opens predictably enough, suggesting as mitigations both the forger's precocity and his poverty, pausing long enough to heap scorn on Chatterton's contemporaries, from the "literati of Bristol" (113) to Walpole. "He is to the present day viewed as a kind of Psalmanazar or Macpherson, producing deliberately his fabrications to the world and challenging its attention to them. A view far from the truth. Poor Chatterton never had that chance" (112). The limited and provincial ambition of Chatterton's first fabrications, recounting upon the completion of a new bridge in Bristol the dedication of its predecessor three centuries earlier, accordingly offers a practical antithesis to the grander designs of their precursors, Psalmanazar's Formosa or Macpherson's Ossianic Scotland. At worst, Chatterton is untutored and precocious; at best, caught in the disparity between the scope of his formal ambition and the resources available to a provincial clerk. In either case, Rowley's bridge narrative, with its luxuriant vision of richly draped feudal processions, betrays nothing more incriminating than a medievalist fantasy, an excess of historical imagination. Indeed, for the recent author of Sordello (1840)--man, city, or book, in the terms of Jane Welsh Carlyle's inquiry--Rowley traces quite precisely a boundary between servile apprenticeship and the problem of embodiment, or "bodying forth," that had so haunted the notorious troubadour two years earlier:
The first instinct of Imitation, which with the mediocre takes the corresponding mediocre form of an implied rather than expressed appropriation of some other man's products, assumed perforce with Chatterton, whose capabilities were of the highest class, a proportionably bolder and broader shape in the direction his genius had chosen to take. And this consideration should have checked the too severe judgment of what followed. For, in simple truth, the startling character of Chatterton's presentments, was in no more than strict keeping with that of the thing he presented. For one whose boy's essay was "Rowley" (a Man, a Time, a Language, all at once) the simultaneous essay of inventing the details of muniment-room treasures and yellow-roll discoveries, by no means exceeded in relative hardihood the mildest possible annexing--whatever the modern author's name may be--to the current poetry or prose of the time. (111-112)
In effect, Rowley arises from a categorical impossibility, from the need to imitate that which lacks a paragon and which therefore fuses available but discordant elements in a poetic chimera: man, time, and language at once. The very simultaneity of Chatterton's intended objects excludes the possibility of a stable referential anchor, some reliably prior field that might ground the other terms of the series. In a remarkable turn, then, Browning's defense moves from the necessity of imitation to its absolute negation, casting the act of forgery not against a standard of legitimacy but instead as the supersession of mere plagiarism.
With such a turn, the images of Psalmanazar and Macpherson, ghostly ciphers summoned in the absence of actual models, inevitably impose themselves again in the question of "literary forgery in general" (113). If poetry originates in the evacuated trope of imitation, it ends in the production of a more expansive dialectic of metaphorical bondage, spawning as its own condition a privilege held against the world at large: "Is it worth while to mention, that the very notion of obtaining a free way for impulses that can find vent in no other channel (and consequently of a liberty conceded to an individual, and denied to the world at large), is implied in all literary production?" (116). Ironically recapitulating an idealist account of aesthetic autonomy, Browning recasts the trope of imitation itself not merely as the discipline of the apprentice but, more forcefully, as the privilege upon which the aesthetic constitutes itself:
By this fact is explained, not only the popular reverence for, and interest in even the personal history of, the possessors of this power--as so many men who have leave to do what the rest of their fellows cannot--but also the as popular jealousy of allowing this privilege to the first claimant. And so instinctively does the Young Poet feel that his desire for this kind of self-enfranchisement will be resisted as a matter of course, that we will venture to say, in nine cases out of ten his first assumption of the licence will be made in a borrowed name. The first communication, to even the family circle or the trusted associate, is sure to be "the work of a friend;" if not, "something extracted from a magazine," or "Englished from the German." So is the way gracefully facilitated for Reader and Hearer finding themselves in a new position with respect to each other. (116)
In the agon that opposes the poet's freedom to the determinate and prosaic existence of the mass, literary production is in fact demarcated primarily by its capacity to become otherwise, to escape the definitions and fixed identities imposed by a prior structure of resentment. Literature, that is, articulates itself not by speaking directly but by claiming the power to refuse articulation, by dissembling and asserting a covert claim on the power to falsify its own origins. Its freedom, then, lies in the imaginary impossibility of distinguishing between its own articulation and a voice of art that articulates, in the Hegelian resolution of a poetic subject to whom the world offers "nothing alien" and upon whom the world imposes no limitation or material barrier (97). The freedom to attribute or to misattribute, to conceive even the subject's signature as the object of aesthetic autonomy, thus marks not only the privilege of art but also its enabling theoretical condition. The test of such a freedom, however, lies irrecoverably outside the narrow sphere of the literary, in the political negotiations that relate (or subjugate) the reader and the hearer to the enfranchised artist, distinguished existentially by a license to lie.
Left at such a stage, metaphorically suspended between a Romantic ideology of authorship and the aggressive liberties of Psalmanazar or Macpherson, Browning's Chatterton might lapse into the character of Rowley, into a persona tactically entrenched against the social dangers of jealousy or recognition, himself available as a subject-mask for other imitators. Browning's intercession, however, depends not merely on the construction of an autonomous art but also on its eventual historical reattachment. To evade simple solipsism on one side and an unreflective politics of assertion on the other, Browning's poet must assert also a second order of freedom, a freedom not of art but from it. The right of borrowing that enfranchises the poet in the first place bears with it a set of its own inexorable determinations, determinations that in Chatterton's case coalesce in the very figure of Rowley--man, time, and language at once. Rowley's dual character, textual and figuratively historical, therefore poses to Chatterton a stark and impossible choice. Enfranchisement becomes possible through Rowley, but only through Rowley. The limitation of the character imposes itself finally upon the forger. The signature that promises liberty culminates in an identifying mark, in the paradox of a forger who can falsify anything but his identity as forger and who thus trades his freedom for an absolute form of negation. Chatterton's ultimate suicide thereby emerges as the grim resolution to the problem of art's freedom, a liberty bought ironically at the price of his own.
Had he not reduced himself to the alternative of living, as Rowley's transcriber, "a slave, with no sentiment of his own which he might freely declare as such," or "dying?" And did not the proud man--who, when he felt somewhat later that he had failed, would not bring his poverty to accept the offer of a meal to escape "dying"--solicit and receive, while earlier there was yet the hope of succeeding, his old companions' "subscription of a guinea apiece," to enable himself to break through the "slavery?" This, then, is our solution. (128)
But Browning's solution, Chatterton's ultimately fatal bargain with and rejection of Rowley, fails to revoke the underlying condition of the forged monk's existence. Once inserted into history, Rowley assumes a logical and temporal priority over his creator. As a textually bound remnant of the past, he is already determined, "enslaved" in Browning's metaphor, by the documentary record into which he has been interpolated. As an historically bound relic, he is already dead. The choice between determination and death, then, merely complicates and reinscribes a dilemma already figured in Rowley. Chatterton's decision for suicide will in fact only underscore Rowley's power to appropriate his erstwhile creator: to escape death, one must become Rowley by writing him; to escape Rowley, one must become him by dying. What Browning in "Waring" sardonically terms Chatterton's "luck / Of calling Rowley into life!" (Dramatic Lyrics 11) can only reframe and underscore the fatality of casting poetry across time and into history. Like Sordello before him, the Bristol forger encapsulates an aesthetic predicated on a certain impossibility, on a poetics contrived to dispel the intricate difficulties of historical epistemology: "Confess now, poets know the dragnet's trick, / Catching the dead, if Fate denies the quick" (Sordello 1.35-36). Unlike Browning's troubadour, however, Rowley does indeed body himself forth, "up-thrust, out-staggering on the world" (1.74-75). Chatterton's "luck," his ability to summon Rowley without resorting to the tortured digressions of Browning's own chosen poet, is also his misfortune; for it is precisely in those moments of misdirection and failure when Sordello finds his revolutionary Crowd and his separate death that Browning ultimately contrives to leave Sordello's tomb behind him. The poet's scavenging habit thus assumes with Chatterton a new and more dangerous complexity, tracing the dual gesture through which Rowley is both killed and created, simultaneously brought into being and consigned to the past. Chatterton's futile attempt "to get somehow free from the old" (122) repeats the dragnet's trick, dredging Rowley back into presence and reincorporating Chatterton himself as a relic, as the potential corpse of Romantic impersonations.
Freedom from the old, freedom from aesthetic determination and the law of Rowley, depends upon an impossible futurity. For Chatterton, such freedom is at best a posthumous hope, achieved only in re-enactments of his own death. But each repetition marks a return to the problem of Rowley and to Chatterton's dialectic of imitation. For Browning, the logic of imitation divulges itself only when carried to extremity, to an absolute form of repetition. The obvious paradox of Chatterton's fame--that his reputation as a poet rests on his failure as a forger--is therefore less crucial than the halting process by which Chatterton sheds Rowley only to approximate him more closely. Indeed, Browning's defense will recur most critically to this second phase of Chatterton's project, to an abandonment of Rowley that, through the very necessity of its repetition, falls short: "Anything but Rowley!" (130); "The point is, No more Rowley" (132); "Rowley was done with" (132). The problem, of course, is that Rowley is not done with, is perhaps never fully done with; that, rather than submitting to Chatterton's dismissal, the Bristol monk begins to exert a fatal economic power over his epigonic maker. Browning's compulsive verbal recursion only confirms the hopelessness of his case and that of his subject: Chatterton is bound to Rowley in fact as Rowley himself had been fictively bound, in Chatterton's Bristol, to his patron Canynge. For Chatterton, then, the disavowal of forgery constitutes a suicide already, but the act of suicide gives Chatterton himself over to the forged recuperations of the future: as Wordsworth's "marvellous Boy" (125), as Coleridge's figure of "Neglect and grinning scorn and Want combin'd" (15), as the muse to Keats's Endymion or, indeed, to Keats's own elegy, Shelley's Adonais. In effect, Browning's own Chatterton, passed through each layer of textual mediation, arrives not as Chatterton but as Rowley multiply transfigured, slain again with each attempt at resurrection. The instinct toward imitation ends with the reinvention of artistic freedom in death, in a moment of self-effacement that reconfirms the original nullity of Rowley as its source.
The ultimate power of Chatterton's falsified image might therefore be taken as a sort of Rowley-effect in its own right. The afterlife of Rowley/Chatterton shapes a later poetics not in its pathos but rather in its anticipation of the essential predicate of a self-consciously modern aesthetic practice. The construction of art on the premise of a prior nullification, an effacement that nonetheless remains determinate and thereby constructs the very possibility of an autonomy of form, becomes possible only under the sign of a forgery. Indeed, the underlying dialectic staged in the death of Rowley/Chatterton emerges allegorically as the figure of a posthumous art itself, transferred already with Hegel's inversion into "the world of reflection and its relations" (Aesthetics 11). The historical forger, reconfirmed in the moment of his own suicide, both confirms and mocks the death of art, ritually enacting an "art [that] does not die but, having become a self-annihilating nothing, eternally survives itself.... Its twilight can last more than the totality of its day, because its death is precisely its inability to die, its inability to measure itself to the essential origin of the work" (Agamben 56). The fascination with Chatterton derives not from the need for his exculpation, for the identification of the creative genius unrecognized, but from its antithesis, from the overdetermined return of a modern aesthetics to its conceptual source, from the need for forgery to acknowledge itself: "The artist is the man without content, who has no other identity than a perpetual emerging out of the nothingness of expression and no other ground than this incomprehensible station on this side of himself" (Agamben 55).
In 1871, Walter W. Skeat published a complete and critical edition of Chatterton's poems, carefully dividing the poet's acknowledged work from his medieval impostures. Skeat's archly contemptuous survey of the literature of the Chatterton controversies and his attempt to restore the Romantic claim for Chatterton's lost genius through the alternate mechanism of textual scholarship are remarkable enough. Still more striking, however, is the distinctive editorial practice that Skeat employs, founded on the presumption that (with studied reference to the dictionaries of Kersey and Bailey and to Speght's edition of Chaucer) the Rowley texts might be given in a modernized (but, for that reason, more authentic) form, restored provisionally to a pristine textual state first marred by Chatterton's own practice of "antiquing." Skeat's argument, however, for the relative simplicity of Chatterton's hybrid and spuriously medieval language only underscores the difficulty of such a restoration. By his own account, there is no evidence that Chatterton translated the Rowley texts from more transparently modern drafts but the contrary, that the poems were composed in something like their extant linguistic state. In fact, Skeat's edition posits not a set of lost manuscripts tentatively reconstructed but rather a paratext carefully fabricated, a plausible but nonetheless fictive prior inscription designed to displace the anterior claim of an already and admittedly forged text. For Skeat, such a maneuver permits an otherwise difficult appreciation of Chatterton on his merits, unobscured by the layer of arcane and fanciful inventions upon which the first claim for Rowley depended: "To do away with the needless disguises, and, on the supposition of their not being genuine, to give them as far as possible in modern English" (xxxix). But, of course, they are genuine, the very evidence of Chatterton's practice. Paradoxically, Skeat has replicated not Chatterton's text but his gesture, assembling an archaetext attributed to another name and re-establishing subsequent readings on the ground of such an attribution. To the degree that Skeat's revision implies also a polemic against "the existing destitution of philological knowledge at the period in which [Chatterton's] compositions appeared" (ix) and a corrective demonstration of his own method, that attribution masks its own historical project--its own attempt at an essay comprising a man, a time, and a language, all at once. As Skeat becomes Chatterton, Chatterton becomes Rowley, blessed merely with the advantage of a more skillful forger than the Bristol monk could claim.
To become Rowley at a second degree, constituted retrospectively in an act of textual misprision even as the fiction of Rowley itself is dispelled, Chatterton must of course cede any remaining hold on a stable authorial identity. Accordingly, Skeat displaces the possibility of an authorial reference again, locating both Rowley and Chatterton in a delicate network of lexical mediations:
Here, in short, is THE KEY to the "Rowley Poems." Chatterton has there employed no old words whatever but such as are contained in Kersey or Speght; the only exceptions to this rule occurring in the case of a few words which he modified or invented. If we take Rowley to be a mere pseudonym for Kersey or Bailey, we shall hardly ever err. (xxxiii)
At the same time, however, Skeat disowns his own intervention, insisting instead on the transparency of his own rewritings and on the restorative power of an authentically modern Chatterton: "That the public does not want me but Chatterton, is the fact I have endeavoured to keep steadily before me" (xlii). To meet such a demand, then, Skeat will practice a double effacement. Rather than concealing his editorship and the textual emendations that regulate and underscore it, he will wrap his own persona into the Chatterton legend and pragmatically replicate it, rendering himself authorially indispensable and claiming by implication a proprietary hold over the stock of Chatterton's original texts, a cache not metaphorically unlike Chatterton's own sextant's trunk filled with fifteenth-century scribblings. Such an antiquing, however, reverses the order of Chatterton's translation, positing a modern linguistic form that in fact antedates a medieval one, transposing the terms of Chatterton's act as though to correct a negative historical image.
In its own fashion, Skeat's project is thus altogether as remarkable as Chatterton's. In its anxiety to disavow an authorial claim, Skeat's edition necessarily lapses into a dialectical sleight of hand, positing a prior artifact in the place of a textual absence and proceeding to invoke that later authority as a model for blind imitation. In the process, Skeat himself produces a doubly displaced version of that phenomenon conceived by Susan Stewart as the "distressed genre," a textual faux antique designed to incorporate as real value the effect of historicity and, more generally, to maintain the "illusion of intrinsicality" upon which such notions of value implicitly depend (67). The distressed genre, that is, offers an artifactual hedge or shelter against time even as it quietly reshapes temporality. Indeed, as Stewart argues, "the distressed genre's hope to enter time, to recreate, is the first step in a move to transcend time that will be the paradigm for literary idealism from Romanticism through modernism" (69). But, of course, as the cases of both Chatterton and Skeat attest, the distressed genre also conceives a parallel mode of literary materialism, locating in the archaic a repository of self-contained value dedicated not to the transcendence of time but rather to the possibility of its rupture. The distressed text, that is, hopes to enter time, but to enter it elsewhere, to abrogate its own moment by forging through repetition a contradiction to the present. That which is distressed--valued and devalued at once--is of course the very system of productions that anchors a temporal perspective. If, as Stewart suggests, "the identity of any material with itself is always undermined by temporality" (133), then the act of distressing also implies the converse: that temporality also may be shattered in the non-correlation of the material with itself. Indeed, the emergence of the aesthetic as "the sphere most aptly signifying this relation between materiality, temporality, and identity" (133) situates art as the formal possibility not only of historical legitimacy but also of its negation. Art's capacity to distress and displace itself, to incorporate the false as the first condition of its enactment, corrodes writing more generally and through that corrosion undermines temporality itself: "The lie of writing is not simply the arbitrary generation of an author, but the displacement of another writing, the repetition of a necessarily unimagined `before' to which it thereby gives testament" (141).
The distressed genre's expression of an anxiety over authority, over the necessity of imitation, thus cloaks another set of opposed attachments, a cryptic materialism that conceives itself under the sign of a negated futurity, an unthought writing that, in its imitation of the unwritten, recuperates the very category of the antique as a trope of innovation. If the broad canon of eighteenth-century forgeries bespeaks a fraught sense of belatedness, it also traces the political mechanism of an emergent form of historical self-assertion. In effect, the distressed genre's reconceptualization of the old constructs the category that will come to underlie and evacuate both the thought and the production of modernity at large: the new. This hollow concept of the new, "a blind spot," as Adorno argues, "as empty as the purely indexical gesture" (20), "akin to death" (21), conceives the past to cancel the present, but in so doing insinuates itself into a retrospective future historiography The phenomenon of distressing thus operates in a contradiction, acknowledging a classical law of authority even while postulating "an abstract temporality of qualitative newness which could be of epochal significance, because it could now be extrapolated into an otherwise empty future, without end, and hence without limit" (Osborne 11). The effect of that historical "temporalization" (246), in Reinhart Koselleck's term, thereby couples antiquarianism with its own destruction, conceives the past in order to conceive with it the ecstatic mortification of the present as the precondition to and site of the future:
But with the advance of time, it was not only the developing prospect of the past which raised the challenge of discovering an ever-new knowledge of entire history. The neue Zeit of history was also impregnated with the difference which was torn open between one's own time and that of the future, between previous experience and the expectation of that which was to come. (251)
Chatterton's triumph and importance lie not in his ability to forge Rowley but instead in his ability to forge Browning and to forge Skeat, to generate a future poetry simultaneously anterior and posterior to the moment of its own (de)composition. Always already outside its own time, Chatterton's language creates the transtemporal field of the modern through which the new arises as the figure of artistic production as such.
ONE WORD MORE: METHODS OF IMPOSTURE
Ne doubte (sayd Maystre Canynge) but you despende Heavenne to gette Goulde but I dyspende Goulde toe gette Heaven. Thus much for Coynes.
--Rowley/Thomas Chatterton "Yellowe Rolle" (I.63)
The structure of dissimulation that enables forgery is also, of course, the premise that enables the concept of value. Only in the movement from identity or functional equality to an abstract form of equivalence and mediation does an object acquire a relation to objects in general, to a system of object-values sufficiently detached from its source to negate the thing in its particularity. By definition, the concept of value disclaims the postulate of self-containment or auto-referentiality, of ontological or even aesthetic modes of autonomy. But it is precisely in such a moment that it becomes impossible for an original to produce itself as such. A claim to originality can in some sense proceed only from the impossibility of verification. Only a forgery can take the impetuous step of flaunting and confirming its actual origin, can invent a "truthful conformity" or the category of the origin itself. Chatterton's Rowley, Browning's Chatterton, Skeat's Chatterton, the Romantic Chatterton, Wise's various Brownings, all enact under such a conundrum an effect of bad faith, propounding a testimony that by definition cannot be made. Each proffers a false exchange. Each induces value from a prior nullity, distressing or creating a past field of reference certainly--but only to trade upon that reference as the material base of future profit or meaning.
But so, too, do the actual poems that Wise reproduced, meditations on falsehood or a volume of sonnets falsely offered (however transparently) as a translation from the Portuguese. One might even include in such a list an anonymous review essay turning on the substitution of Chatterton for Tasso. Such tactical falsehoods Browning himself had excused in the case of Chatterton and condemned as hypocritical in the case of Walpole--but had practiced with almost unprecedented abandon. To defend Chatterton, Browning had offered, as he would subsequently in the case of Shelley, the excuse of youthful license. Within months, however, in November 1842, he would offer also another such youthful effluence, in the publication (as the third number of Bells and Pomegranates) of "so many utterances of so many imaginary persons, not mine" (2). The famous invention, with Dramatic Lyrics, of the dramatic monologue--a moment of canonical origin almost ex nihilo--would seem to mark the hypostasis of such falsehoods, a generically regulated order designed to harness the trope of the false pretense as poetic material. Obviously enough, the form of the monologue recapitulates a dialectic of origins, flamboyantly claiming a source of articulation that effaces both the poet and the Romantic category of the seer, only to reassemble those shards under a single ironic signature: "R.B." (2). But the dramatic monologue, in Browning's version at least, also operates on the basis of a promise. It invokes as the poem's horizon not a past authenticity but a future one, referring always to the possibility of a synthesis and a future re-collection, a moment of ultimate interpretation. The falsity of the monologue therefore redeems itself in the expectation of a future assemblage, a moment of reception figured metonymically in the interpolation of an audience and the specification of a rhetorical context as an irreducible fact of history. In that act of anticipation, the poem gains the effect of privileged insight. The normalization of such falsehoods under the proleptic rule of a genre, through a mode "in which sincerity and autobiography are encoded, written backwards" (35), in Robert Langbaum's classic formulation, necessarily testifies to the displacement of a notion of authority regulated in stable structures of poetic meaning, the mere "product of logical hindsight" (226). The concept of experience that such an account substitutes for logical hindsight, however, remains a mediated one: an experience that, belonging to another voice or another time, can never yet be experienced. What the monologue thus conceives is an experience under negation, never fully bound in the present, another mode of imposture. As a result, the monologue fails ultimately to function as a genre, fails indeed to function even as a monologue. By situating itself in the moment of a performance and a reinterpretation always to come, the poem not only breaks its relation to authority but, more radically, invents a poetics of logical foresight. That which is encoded and written backwards is history itself, a history now temporally realigned as the province of the new. The origination of the dramatic monologue thus reflects not only a solution to the antinomy of Romantic subjectivity but also an extension of the logic of forgery to the scale of poetry itself.
To invert R. G. Collingwood's definition of history, the multiple forgeries of (and by) Robert Browning offer a re-enactment of future experience, a "thought that somehow stands outside time" (287; see also Taylor 18-19). The dramatic monologue establishes itself in just such an impossibility, in a temporal ecstasis. As such, however, Dramatic Lyrics constitutes not an origin but another periodic interval of the problem of Rowley. Two years earlier, Browning had undertaken an even more radical act of self-dramatization, at the hinged moment upon which Sordello turns:
I sung this on an empty palace-step At Venice: why should I break off, nor sit Longer upon my step, exhaust the fit England gave birth to? Who's adorable Enough reclaim a--no Sordello's Will Alack!--be queen to me? (III.656-661)
Despairing of his own poem, Browning steps into it. That entrance, however, produces a multiple effacement. Sordello himself recedes from view, while Browning loses even syntactical control over his troubadour. In his hesitation and surrender, however, Browning recovers the possibility of his song and his tale--or rather of another tale capable of functioning in its place. The elaborate set of failed mediations with which the poem opens--from Dante (I.360-373) to Cervantes (I.5-7) to Shelley (I.60-74)--are recapitulated in another abortive allusion (to Byron's Childe Harold in Venice) and then cast forward into the vision of a new muse, the Asolan fruit-vendor who anchors the poem and eventually (in another moment of misdirection) spawns the first number of Bells and Pomegranates, Pippa Passes (1841). With that moment of disappearance, the poem can begin again by reversing its vector of representation, transposing Browning's ventriloquism into Sordello's. The troubadour's ability to anticipate and echo his own successors thereby resituates Browning's voice in an expansive continuum of utterances, stretching even beyond the temporal boundary of his own poem (to echo again most notably in Ezra Pound's recuperation: "Your `palace step'? / My stone seat was the Dogana's curb" ). By inscribing its own echo through Bells and Pomegranates and beyond, Browning's moment of evacuation simultaneously achieves both authorial anonymity and power over the future. Perhaps more importantly, it assumes the graphic power of a literary forgery, imposing its own reconstructions for the figure of Sordello, displacing the troubadour's works entirely and usurping his very name.
The return to Sordello, enacted first in the internal literary history of the poem and then re-enacted beyond it, as the poetic afterlife of Browning's career, by Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites, by Pound and a more radical form of modernism, thus constitutes a Chatterton-effect of its own, unpacking a later poetics inscribed already within the poem and within the temporal structure that enables it. Browning's critical or canonical reoccupation merely discharges and incorporates a prior future as a present possibility of art. What Browning unveils, then, is only secondarily a generic modulation of experience. In the arc that links Sordello and Chatterton, Browning and Rowley, to the form of the monologue lies a dialectic of veiling and unveiling, a stammering swirl of detached possibilities of quotation, repetition, and evocation, each distressed out of its time and cast forward in "images of an ongoing hesitation not only about fiction and fakery but about every form of absence and presence in writing" (Wood 260). If the dramatic monologue offers an innovation, the meditation on forgery offers the possibility and the form of innovation itself, a poetics calibrated to the negative potential of the new, a new measured not in relation to time but in its capacity to reformulate time:
Not that we consider the mere fabrication of old poetry so difficult a matter. For what is poetry, whether old or new, will have its full flow in such a scheme; and any difficulty or uncouthness of phrase that elsewhere would stop its course at once, here not only passes with it, but confers the advantage of authenticity on what, in other circumstances, it deforms: the uncouthness will be set down to our time, and whatever significancy may lurk in it will expand to an original meaning of unlimited magnitude. (Browning, "Essay on Chatterton" 133)
To "expand to an original meaning of unlimited magnitude" is to indulge a paradox, to resituate the concept of origin from the finitude of the past to another order of significance altogether. As the badge of an authentic untimeliness, uncouthness marks the expectation of future rewriting, conceives itself as the object of subsequent distressings. In that expectation, however, poetry also insists on its future use, reincorporates a dead art as the site of an historical exchange between future and past, as the point of their transposition and re-enactment.
As the conclusion to the first volume of her 1850 collection, in anticipation of the sequence that would so famously conclude the second, Elizabeth Barrett Browning rewrote an earlier sonnet, "Past and Future," with the terms of the title reversed. That poem, itself interpolated in later editions among the Sonnets from the Portuguese, turns on the disfigurement of its predecessor, on the possibility of falsifying an earlier model: "I seek no copy now of life's first half! / Leave here the pages with long musing curled, / And write me new my future's epigraph" (Poems I.362). In a familiar gambit, "Future and Past" gathers a collective utterance across time, a structure of futurity already available metaphorically as Sordello, as Rowley, even as Browning. Straining toward the possibility of its own reinscription to come, the sonnet reflexively casts its temporal revision as a gesture of hope: "My future will not copy fair my past, / I wrote that once" (I.362). With the transposition of tenses, the future usurps the power of historical determination through the impossibility of a fair copy and the writing of a false one. A spurious history in itself, the second sonnet quietly maps the turn through the logic of forgery. The past offers itself as the site of scavenging but never of a pure antiquarianism. Instead, the act of recollection carves out a formal departure by envisioning and indeed postulating its subsequent use-value. A past authorization is merely the site of a future trade. In fact, the poem's conceit recapitulates the premise of the dramatic monologue, recasting the distance between writer and interpreter, otherwise indistinguishable in this case, as a temporal function. More strikingly, Barrett Browning's revision encodes the sonnet's practice as its content: the reversal of terms, future and past, reproduces the forger's dialectic of originality. The later sonnet usurps the earlier, and both are in turn usurped by a broader sonnet sequence offered under a false sign. The original sonnet, "Past and Future," thus offers a marker, set down only in anticipation of future use, referring not to the poet who wrote it once but rather to the (literally) renamed poet who will at some point (mis)write it again. The category at issue in such a turn is not experience but its deferral into future value as expectation, as a structure of anticipation rendered not merely as rewriting but more fundamentally as a poetic logic of the false imprint. A poetry that inverts logical hindsight, a genuine introduction to forged documents or an anonymous essay on forgery, a long poem constructed in the simulation of a past future or a sonnet disentangled from the simulation of a future past--all conceive a form of revision still more extreme: the thought of poetry as a distressed foresight, a becoming-Chatterton and a becoming-Rowley. In that gesture, however, Browning (either Browning) conceives also the theoretical negation of the present, locating in the trope of forgery its effective exterior limit and the precondition of a future poetry. As such, even the poet's mark--R. B. or E. B. B.--simultaneously authorizes and de-authorizes, enacting the negation that constitutes the forger's mark of ownership and recasting poiesis as temporalization, as the promise of a posthumous art.
The results of Carter and Pollard's investigations are detailed most fully in An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Pamphlets of 1934 and (posthumously) in Barker and Collins's 1983 sequel, which includes material omitted by Carter and Pollard or discovered subsequently An overview of the case and a study of the careers of Thomas J. Wise and Henry Buxton Forman may be found in Collins's The Two Forgers. Editions identified as spurious by Carter and Pollard have been indicated below.
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Barker, Nicolas, and John Collins. A Sequel to An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets by John Carter and Graham Pollard: The Forgeries of H. Buxton Forman and T. J. Wise Re-examined. London: Scolar Press, 1983.
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. Poems. 2 vols. London: Chapman & Hall, 1850.
--. Sonnets by E. B. B. Reading, 1847. Spurious.
Browning, Robert. Bells and Pomegranates: First Series. Ed. Thomas J. Wise. London: Ward, Lock, 1896.
--. Bells and Pomegranates: No. III--Dramatic Lyrics. London: Edward Moxon, 1842.
--. Browning's Essay on Chatterton. Ed. Donald Smalley. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1948.
--. Cleon. London: Edward Moxon, 1855. Spurious.
--. Gold Hair: A Legend of Pornic. London, 1864. Spurious.
--. "Introductory Essay." Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley: With an Introductory Essay by Robert Browning. London: Edward Moxon, 1852.
--. Letters of Robert Browning, Collected by Thomas J. Wise. Ed. Thurman L. Hood. New Haven: Yale UP, 1933.
--. Sordello. The Poems of Browning: Volume I: 1826-1840. Ed. John Woolford and Daniel Karlin. London: Longman, 1991.
--. The Statue and the Bust. London: Edward Moxon, 1864. Spurious.
Carter, John, and Graham Pollard. An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets. 2nd ed. Ed. Nicolas Barker and John Collins. London: Scolar Press, 1983.
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Collingwood, R. G. The Idea of History. London: Oxford UP, 1956.
Collins, John. The Two Forgers: A Biography of Harry Buxton Forman and Thomas James Wise. New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Books, 1992.
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Eco, Umberto. "Forgeries, Originals and Identity." Signs of Humanity: Proceedings of the IVth International Congress, International Association for Semiotic Studies, Barcelona/Perpignan, March 30-April 6, 1989. Ed. Michel Balat and Janice Deledalle-Rhodes. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992.
Grafton, Anthony. Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1990.
Haywood, Ian. Faking It: Art and the Politics of Forgery. New York: St. Martin's, 1987.
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Koselleck, Reinhart. Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time. Trans. Keith Tribe. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985.
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Pound, Ezra. Personae: The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound. Rev. and ed. Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz. New York: New Directions, 1990.
Ruthven, K. K. Faking Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Letters of Percy Bysshe Shelley: With an Introductory Essay by Robert Browning. London: Edward Moxon, 1852.
Skeat, Walter W. "Essay on the Rowley Poems." The Poetical Works of Thomas Chatterton. Vol. 2. London: George Bell and Sons, 1891. vii-xlvi.
Stewart, Susan. Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation. New York: Oxford UP, 1991.
Taylor, Donald S. Thomas Chatterton's Art: Experiments in Imagined History. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1978.
Wilde, Richard Henry. Conjectures and Researches Concerning the Love, Madness, and Imprisonment of Torquato Tasso. 2 vols. New York: Alexander V. Blake, 1842.
Wise, Thomas J., ed. Bells and Pomegranates: First Series. Ed. Thomas J. Wise. London: Ward, Lock, 1896.
Wise, Thomas J. A Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. London: R. Clay and Sons, 1918.
--. A Browning Library: A Catalogue of Printed Books, Manuscripts, and Autograph Letters by Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. London, 1929.
--. A Complete Bibliography in Prose and Verse of Robert Browning. London, 1897.
Wood, Michael. Afterword. Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture. Ed. Nick Groom. New York: St. Martin's, 1999.
Wordsworth, William. Poems, in two Volumes, and Other Poems, 1800-1807. Ed. Jared Curtis. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1983.
C. D. BLANTON is Assistant Professor of English at Princeton University, where he teaches modern poetry. He is currently working on two books: Untimely Histories, on nineteenth- and twentieth-century modes of poetic historiography, and Aftereffects, on late modernism in Britain.…
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Publication information: Article title: Impostures: Robert Browning and the Poetics of Forgery. Contributors: Blanton, C. D. - Author. Journal title: Studies in the Literary Imagination. Volume: 35. Issue: 2 Publication date: Fall 2002. Page number: 1+. © 2007 Georgia State University, Department of English. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.
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