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Chapter 14 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti and His School

from Part II - Individual Authors: Early Moderns, Romantics, Contemporaries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2023

Charles Martindale
Affiliation:
University of Bristol
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Affiliation:
University of York
Lene Østermark-Johansen
Affiliation:
University of Copenhagen
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Summary

A distinctive feature of Pater’s oeuvre is that, like many French critics of his generation, he wrote both literary and art criticism; in this respect his work parallels that of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet and painter. The chapter argues that, if Jerome McGann is right to describe Pater’s essay on Rossetti as ‘the best single study of Rossetti’s poetry we have’, that is because Pater provides the most persuasive interpretation of this double aspect of Rossetti’s work. The essay is densely intertextual with other writings of Pater’s in ways that can be surprising: verbal cross-references link Rossetti not only to his own chosen precursors (Dante as well as Blake and Michelangelo) but also to Gautier and Baudelaire, and, more importantly, to Plato. Thus it plays a more significant role in Pater’s overall critical project than previous scholars have recognised, not least explaining to us a historical fact that may seem difficult to understand: the extraordinary influence of Rossetti on both painters and poets of his own and succeeding generations, an influence out of all proportion, some may think, to his actual achievement in either art form.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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