Christina Rossetti

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This, the first full-scale biography of Rossetti, reinstates her in her rightful place as a luminary among Victorian poets. Like Emily Dickinson, with whom she is often compared, Rossetti is a poet's poet who wrote some of the Victorian period's most lush, most original, and also some of its most restrained poetry. Because of the new appreciation for this highly accomplished work, and also because, through her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina is so closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites and their ...
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Overview

This, the first full-scale biography of Rossetti, reinstates her in her rightful place as a luminary among Victorian poets. Like Emily Dickinson, with whom she is often compared, Rossetti is a poet's poet who wrote some of the Victorian period's most lush, most original, and also some of its most restrained poetry. Because of the new appreciation for this highly accomplished work, and also because, through her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina is so closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites and their superb art and bohemian lives, there had been a resurgence of interest in this enigmatic writer. Here we learn of the deep sexual passions and ambivalence of her young adulthood; the men she chose and later denied; the warmth of her family life; her close ties to the grand literary figures of Victorian London; the religious devotion that suffused her later years; and her frustrated ambition to fulfill her life as an artist and a woman. Drawing on unread works and newly available letters, Marsh also makes sense for the first time of Rossetti's adolescent breakdown and recurrent depressions.

This absorbing biography recovers for readers the life of the author of "Goblin Market" and "My heart is singing like a bird, " and shows that, far from being a pious and melancholy recluse, Rosetti was a complex and fascinating woman whose poetry is at last receiving the attention it deserves. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Reclusive, melancholy poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) waged ``a lifelong struggle with feminist desires'' and attempted to reconcile ambition and autonomy with the Victorian ideal of womanhood, in Marsh's analysis. Rossetti, who believed herself descended from Petrarch's Laura (a claim with little if any foundation), campaigned against cruelty to animals, and her volunteer work with prostitutes at Highgate penitentiary inspired her allegorical poem Goblin Market. Marsh (The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood) illuminates Rossetti's sibling rivalry with her flamboyant brother, painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and shows how the despair and paranoia of their invalid father, Gabriele, an embittered Italian exile-poet-librettist-professor, helped trigger Christina's adolescent breakdown, which left her with a lifelong tendency to guilt and self-castigation. Quoting extensively from the poetry, Marsh unlocks Rossetti's intense inner life in an engrossing, nuanced biography. She also explores the poet's fanciful tales and devotional writings to uncover her private battle with grief and preoccupation with death. Photos. (July)
Library Journal
Marsh, an English authority on writers and artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, focuses here on Christina Rossetti, a talented, creative woman of Victorian England. Overshadowed by her artistic brother, Dante Gabriel, uncompromising in her religious belief of the submissive role of women, and faithful to her filial duties, Rossetti wrote poetry throughout her life as a means of self-expression. Marsh makes use of letters, diaries, and other previously unavailable source materials to show how Rossetti's verse was a response to the people and events that shaped her life. In doing so, however, Marsh occasionally makes broad interpretive assumptions that bring a new depth to the traditional view of Rossetti as a minor religious poet. Although Marsh's storytelling is often slow-moving and the explications forced, the work is a well-researched and scholarly study of a talented woman whose literary contributions deserve renewed attention.Denise Sticha, Seton Hill Coll. Lib., Greensburg, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780712674379
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/18/1996
  • Pages: 634

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