Possible sources of "The Leper"

Anthony H. Harrison, Professor of English, North Carolina State University


Note 14, chapter 3, in the author's Swinburne's Medievalism: A Study in Victorian Love Poetry which Louisiana State University Press published in 1979. It has been included in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.

For commentaries on the backgrounds and possible sources of the poem, see Jeunesse, 456-57, 572-73; and Clyde K. Hyder's "The Medieval Backgrounds of Swinburne's The Leper," Publications of the Modern Language Association, XLVI (1931), 1280-88. Both agree that this is one of Swinburne's earliest poems, a variation upon A Vigil (composed in 1857). Lafourcade acknowledges his inability to discover the true source of the poem; Hyder argues for Amis and Amiloun, "which Swinburne undoubtedly read in Weber's Metrical Romances" (1283-84). Tale xciv of the Gesta Romanorum seems to me just as likely a source, though Hyder discounts it (1286).

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Last updated: June 2000