This introductory chapter provides an overview of the purpose and scope of the book. Victorian scientific and spiritualist writings often overlapped when describing how voices might linger beyond the grave, and the blurring of their vocabularies infiltrated everyday speech. A number of later critics have been reluctant to allow much to individual poets, choosing instead to concentrate on the overlapping forces that can impinge upon the creation and revision of their work. While McGann's poet is enmeshed by his ‘social and historical filiations’, the ‘filiations’ of Bloom's poet are recoverable only by mapping out his trammels at the hands of his poetic father. Both produce detailed arguments to support the idea that writers and their texts are productively multiple and divided against themselves. Both also investigate the extent to which influence can form not only one of the conditions of writing, but also one of its more or less explicit subjects.
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