On His Knees: Stendhal, Byron, and a Hundred Irresistible Impulses

This essay investigates how the concept of fandom might make sense of a reading practice that emerged in the romantic period, the practice of visiting places associated with authors and their works in order to re-read their works in situ. Focussing on Lady Frances Shelley as a typical romantic literary tourist, the essay considers the ways in which she (and by extension others) produced new constructions of reading and the reader in response to the emergent figure of the romantic author. Shelley's various accounts of visiting romantic locales associated with Rousseau, Scott and Byron not only provides a conspectus of possible tourist-stances and practices but suggests that romantic readers strove to represent themselves on a footing not only of intimacy but of social equality with the author, re-establishing a sense of a coterie audience in the face of the realities of an increasingly heterogenous mass reading public.