ROBERT WILLIAMS BUCHANAN (1841 - 1901)
THE CITY OF DREAM
CITY OF DREAM
An Epic Poem
‘The old creeds vanish, giving place to new:
CHATTO & WINDUS, PICCADILLY
[The Right of Translation is Reserved]
DEDICATION . . . . . . . . ix
ARGUMENT . . . . . . . . xiii
THE CITY OF DREAM.
SETTING FORTH . . . . . . . 1
STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS . . . 27
EGLANTINE . . . . . . . . . 51
WITHIN CHRISTOPOLIS . . . . 68
WITHIN THE GATE . . . . . . 87
THE CALVARIES . . . . . . 104
THE WAYSIDE INN . . . . . 121
THE OUTCAST, ESAU . . . . . 141
THE GROVES OF FAUN . . . . 174
THE AMPHITHEATRE . . . . . 203
THE VALLEY OF DEAD GODS . . 222
THE INCONCEIVABLE . . . . 237
THE OPEN WAY . . . . . . 271
THE CITY WITHOUT GOD . . . 291
THE CELESTIAL OCEAN . . . . 334
L’ENVOI . . . . . . . . 359
[Note: Not included in the Contents.]
A PROSE NOTE . . . . . . 363
INDEX TO THE SONGS.
The earliest mention of The City of Dream is in a letter to Nicholas Trübner of 27th February 1880, in which Buchanan proposes to publish the poem, The City of Dream: a New Pilgrimage, anonymously, in three small volumes: Part 1: Christopolis, Part 2: Revolt—The Groves of Pan, Part 3: Circling Homeward. Trübner did not take him up on the offer and the book was eventually published by Chatto & Windus. The first mention of The City of Dream in the surviving Chatto correspondence is in a letter of 23rd April, 1882, which gives Buchanan’s own opinion of the work:
“As to the City of Dream, I dont like to blow my own trumpet, but I only wish I could impress you, as I am myself impressed, with the importance of that work. Of this I am convinced—that no work of equal magnitude & daring has been attempted in this generation. I am perfectly certain that it will mark an epoch in my literary career, & quadruple my popularity. But, I hear you say, ‘it is poetry!’ So it is, but poetry on a theme which interests every modern man who thinks & feels.
On 27th June, 1882, Buchanan wrote to Chatto:
“If I post you Vol I. of the City of Dream, will you put it to press at once, & let me be correcting the proofs? I want it to appear in 3 small vols, as originally intended. We can decide, later on, as to the anonymity. With regard to the philosophical & poetical value of the work, I have not the slightest doubt.”
He also included the following suggestion for an advert for the poem, similar to the original plan in the Trübner letter:
“In 3 vols 8vo, Price 5/ each
The City of Dream:
“The old creeds vanish, giving place to new—
Vol I. Christopolis.
The next mention of The City of Dream comes 18 months later in a letter of 14th January, 1884. In the following letters Buchanan refers to receiving and correcting proofs of the poem, but the process is interrupted by his visit to America and then his dramatic work - the troubled production of Alone in London, followed by the great success of Sophia. Buchanan finished the poem while he was living at Hamlet Court, Southend, and a letter to Chatto of 8th January, 1888 refers to ‘the last proofs of City of Dream’. The next letter to Chatto is dated 10th March  and is Buchanan’s list of proposed recipients of complimentary copies of the book, one of whom is W. E. Lecky.
“With regard to the C. of D., pray reconsider your wish to publish it with my name. Works of this sort lose half their effect when there is no curiosity as to authorship. I more especially suggest anonymity as I want to issue almost simultaneously The Great Problem, containing ‘Justinian’ & other similar pieces; and this work I shall have ready in a very few days.
The idea is repeated in a letter of 22nd June, 1885 but Chatto obviously refused to go along with Buchanan’s scheme.
When The City of Dream was originally published it received the usual lukewarm response from reviewers. However, at the Academy Banquet held at Burlington House on Saturday 5th May, 1888, W. E. Lecky praised the poem in his speech, giving The City of Dream a new lease of life and resulting in a second edition. Lecky’s remarks also led Buchanan to begin the process of buying back his poetical copyrights from Chatto & Windus with the intention of becoming his own publisher.]
[Advert for the second edition of The City of Dream from The Standard (29 May, 1888 - p.4).]
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