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Song Beyond the NationTranslation, Transnationalism, Performance$
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Philip Ross Bullock and Laura Tunbridge

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197267196

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197267196.001.0001

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Whitman and Stevenson: Singing the Nation from Scotland to Sāmoa via Ohio and Hawai‘i

Whitman and Stevenson: Singing the Nation from Scotland to Sāmoa via Ohio and Hawai‘i

(p.254) 14 Whitman and Stevenson: Singing the Nation from Scotland to Sāmoa via Ohio and Hawai‘i
Song Beyond the Nation

Emma Sutton

British Academy

This chapter explores the role of song in the intermingled reception of Whitman’s and Robert Louis Stevenson’s work. The first section introduces Stevenson’s part in disseminating Whitman’s work in Polynesia, discussing Stevenson’s writings on Polynesian song and his friendships with Hawai’ian musicians King David Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani with whom he shared an interest in Whitman. It suggests the importance of song to their understandings of cultural authority and challenges to colonial influence. The second section considers several composers – including Ralph Vaughan Williams and Ernst Bacon – who set work by both Whitman and Stevenson, focusing particularly on James H. Rogers’ song cycle In Memoriam (1919). It considers the ways in which relationship between the two writers was constructed by these composers and their critics and explores the role of anthologising – whether in poetry anthologies or song cycles – in constructions of national identity and exoticism.

Keywords:   Walt Whitman, Robert Louis Stevenson, Polynesia, song cycles, James Hotchkiss Rogers, Sāmoa, Hawai’i, colonial history

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