Clough’s Amours de Voyage

Arthur Hugh Clough’s Amours de Voyage is a poem of remarkable originality: part love story, part travelogue, it manages to move seamlessly between the tragicomic affairs of the heart and the political affairs of Rome during the 1848 revolution. Comparable works are difficult to find: it has something of the emotional seriousness of Aurora Leigh while maintaining the comic irony of Byron’s Don Juan.

This epistolary novel in verse is a tale of travel. It is set in the age of Thomas Cook and Baedeker’s guides, in which middle-class Britons went abroad en masse for the first time. Here travellers often finished their education among the classical ruins, but Clough’s poem also exhibits a more modern concern for the liberty of the Italian people. The two competing strands of private and public vie for the heart of the protagonist Claude and for the reader’s attention.

Amours de Voyage will be delivered to subscribers from February to May, in the same text that was serialised by the Atlantic Monthly in 1858.

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