A new title in Routledge’s acclaimed Critical Heritage series, this collection brings together critical responses to the work of Christina Rossetti (1830–94), one of the most distinguished of all Victorian poets.
This long-awaited volume records the reception of Rossetti’s work—her poetry, fiction, and devotional prose—in both public and private texts: periodical reviews, books, letters, reminiscences, and poems. It ranges from the dismissive (Ruskin thought she should learn to ‘write as the public like’ before trying to publish her work) to the idolatrous (Swinburne was reported to have been sent into ‘a dancing and screaming ecstasy’ by one of her poems). The volume also includes the critical comments of Christina’s brothers: the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who most encouraged her poetic ambitions, and whose criticism influenced her revision of poems when preparing her published volumes; and William Michael Rossetti who, after Christina’s death, would edit her work and influence twentieth-century approaches to it. Of particular interest is the reception of Rossetti’s work by other women writers, for whom Rossetti would become an inspiring—if also, at times, a puzzlingly alien—precursor.
Through much of the twentieth century, Christina Rossetti’s work was peripheral to literary criticism—both because the dominant tendency in criticism devalued Victorian poetry generally, and because the work of women poets was especially likely to be underrated. Yet Rossetti was not wholly ignored, and this volume records significant critical responses to her work up to the 1970s when the impact of feminism on literary studies would begin to claim Rossetti as one of the major Victorian poets.
Compiled by the editor of the Oxford edition of her Poems and Prose, this new addition to Routledge’s Critical Heritage series is an indispensable source for any serious study of the contemporary, and later, critical reception of Christina Rossetti.
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