Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Game That Must Be Lost

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Resurrecting Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a major literary figure and visual artist of the second half of the nineteenth century, this book is a conscious reaction to the last sixty years of literary criticism - in which Rossetti's work has been diminished and downplayed. McGann asserts the enormity of Rossetti's accomplishment by pointing out that Rossetti was the central artistic and intellectual figure of his generation, whose influence extended from Swinburne to Wilde to Yeats of Pound. McGann ultimately contends that Rosetti was the major conceptual artist of his generation, whose work prefigured many of the major aesthetic shifts of the twentieth century.
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Editorial Reviews

Isobel Armstrong
A remarkable study of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's double achievement as poet and painter...In every book he has written [AcGann] has ambitiously revised accepted ways fo reading. This splendid book is no exception...Jerome McGann has restored Rossetti's greatness as a poet and painter and forged the principles of an alternative modernism that challenges the institutional forms of modernism—not bad for a book so disciplined by concision that it does not reach 200 pages.
Times Literary Supplement
Kirkus Reviews
McGann (Media/Univ. of Virginia) examines the poetry and paintings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti in an effort to determine why the artist's stature, so high between 1850 and 1910, fell dramatically with the rise of Modernism. McGann cautions that "[i]t is perhaps a bad idea to try elucidating Rossetti's work with the blunt instrument of critical prose," but with that dull tool McGann manages to create a precise portrait of Rossetti and his contributions to the cultural milieu of Victorian England. Praising Rossetti for his aesthetic tastes and his confidence in his artistic judgment, McGann sketches a portrait of this artist who dominated the worlds of both art and letters: Rossetti's poems and paintings are analyzed side by side in order to illustrate the interconnection of word and image. As a member of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Rossetti desired a return to the direct and unmediated depiction of nature, as evidenced in Italian painting prior to the High Renaissance and the literary work of Dante. Beyond his work as a painter and poet, McGann describes how Rossetti was concerned with the form of art: textual materiality and graphic design provided impetus for much of his innovation. Modernists rebelled against Rossetti since he represented the height of Victorian art, but McGann uncovers overlaps between Modernism and Rossetti suggesting that Modern tenets of art were present in Rossetti's work. Although not a biographer, the author includes moments from Rossetti's life that illuminate his ouevre (such as when he buries a manuscript of poetry with his dead wife but then later digs it up to revise his words). The "game" that McGann refersto isart, which can never fully fulfill its mission or be rendered perfectly in its execution. Nonetheless, if both Rossetti and McGann must eventually lose their game, their efforts are stronger than most.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300080230
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.73 (d)

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