Petrarch’s cat and Poe’s raven
Chapter 2 considers alternative evocations of the author’s body, focusing on how and why animal-bodies in the form of taxidermied remains are deployed as surrogates for the figure of the author within the writer’s house museum. It tours Arqua, Olney, London, Philadelphia, Coxwold, and Amherst in pursuit of the stories and fantasies old and new that lie behind the celebrity of Petrarch’s cat, Cowper’s hares, Poe’s raven, Sterne’s starling, and Dickinson’s hummingbirds. It argues that these animals serve to describe the doubled body of the author, at once dead and alive, mortal and immortal, body and voice, corpse and textual corpus.
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