The Rossetti Legend and Dante's voice

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

There is a legend about a poet who seemed to live as an alien in the contemporary Victorian world, a poet who changed his name into "Dante". This monograph aims at interpreting the "Rossetti Legend" as a critical instance to define the originality of Dante Gabriel Rossetti as an artist and as a poet. By looking at the earliest biographical sources, this study isolates the motif of the magical, hypnotic, magnetic voice recognized in Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His "strange accent" was indeed an accent coming from far away, from a different country and from a different historical time: it was the “voice of Dante”. In the first chapter, I analyse the reason behind the originating of both the Rossetti "legend" and its contrary, the "Rossetti travesty": the role of the brother William Michael Rossetti as a “honest and reluctant biographer”. In the second chapter, I offer a full study of the early sources witnessing the oral tradition of the “Rossetti legend”. In the third chapter, I focus on one specific element of the legend, the voice of the artist, and how that voice was heard and interpreted during the performance of his reciting and reading aloud. The biographical sources are contrasted with the contemporary theory of elocution. In the fourth chapter, through a study of Rossetti's translations of Dante, I isolate some stylistic features common to both Dante's translations and Rossetti's original poems: the role of a performing voice to understand the metrical and prosodic features of the poet's "strange accent". The fifth chapter is a case-study of how this "accent" is rendered in one specific Dantean sonnet "translated" by Rossetti in both his actual translation and his original work. The final chapter is a study of the only poetic ego-document by Rossetti, the sonnet "Dantis Tenebrae". This exceptional sonnet breaks Rossetti's own rules for sonnet composition: there is no division between the octave and the sestet. The two parts are linked syntactically and semantically by a "chaunt", which is the unusual and "legendary" way of Rossetti to perform his own poetry. This is the romantic "chaunt" of seers-poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth, but it is also the "chant" of the poet's own father: the "improvvisatore" and Dante scholar Gabriele Rossetti. "Dantis Tenebrae", a sonnet dedicated to the poet's father, signifies the mystical and supernatural links between the author and Dante, through the same voice, the same old "chaunt" speaking through the poems of Dante, the poems of his father, and his own poems.
Translated title of the contributionThe Rossetti Legend and Dante's voice
Original languageItalian
Place of PublicationLanciano (Italy)
PublisherRocco Carabba
Number of pages496
Edition1
ISBN (Print)9788863446203
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2021

Publication series

NameLa Biblioteca del particolare
PublisherCarabba
Volume30

Keywords

  • Rossetti
  • Dante
  • translation
  • voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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