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Marilyn Butler, 19 December 1985

The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 352 pp., £19.50, May 1985, 0 19 811730 2
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The Politics of Language: 1791-1819 
by Olivia Smith.
Oxford, 269 pp., £19.50, December 1984, 0 19 812817 7
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... Napoleonic war period. McGann, more literary, discusses a number of highbrow poets from Crabbe to Christina Rossetti. They both write accessibly, and with a noticeable openness to the wider world, in the early 19th century and now. Half the point of reading either is lost if you don’t grasp, or know, that they mean to counter previous, narrower views ...

Hugging the cats

John Bayley, 14 June 1990

by Gay Clifford.
188 pp., £14.99, May 1990, 0 241 12976 1
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Selected Poems 1940 – 1989 
by Allen Curnow.
Viking, 209 pp., £15.99, May 1990, 0 670 83007 0
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Collected Poems and Selected Translations 
by Norman Cameron, edited by Warren Hope and Jonathan Barker.
Anvil, 160 pp., £14.95, May 1990, 0 85646 202 0
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Collected Poems 
by Enoch Powell.
Bellew, 198 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 947792 36 8
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... Greer implies) a new version of the crucified Andromeda, of Mrs Browning, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, struggling ‘to obey the peremptory demands of their own creativity within the limits imposed by our culture’. This in the true and involuntary perspective behind poems that are often irritatingly with-it, sidestepping with ...
The Invasion Handbook 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 201 pp., £12.99, April 2002, 0 571 20915 7
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... Verse explains his preference for demotic diction and the natural cadences of Hopkins and Christina Rossetti over upper-class dialects and iambic regularities. Like Donne, he is proud to be harsh. He won’t tell the reader what is meant by a ‘boortree’ or a ‘cuas’, equally unknown to me and the OED. You could probably guess from the ...

Wayne on a Warm Day

Duncan Campbell, 20 June 1996

Bad Business 
by Dick Hobbs.
Oxford, 140 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 0 19 825848 8
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... and looked at a poetry book and I come across a poem which I like to this day and it was by Christina G. Rossetti, so I wrote it down. ‘Remember Christina G. Rossetti.’ Well, when they found the car, this piece of paper was in the car, so the ...


John Bayley, 19 January 1989

The Amis Anthology 
edited by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 360 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 09 173525 4
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The Chatto Book of Nonsense Verse 
edited by Hugh Haughton.
Chatto, 530 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 7011 3105 5
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... But he has a wonderful ear for voice in unfamiliar and little-known poems by Herbert, Graves, Christina Rossetti, Kenneth Ashley, and he opens with a marvellous one – surely his own discovery – by the Medieval chronicler John Lydgate, about a horse called Lyarde, too old now to work. They lead him to the smithy to pull off his shoon And put him ...

Sisters come second

Dinah Birch: Siblings, 26 April 2012

Thicker than Water: Siblings and Their Relations 1780-1920 
by Leonore Davidoff.
Oxford, 449 pp., £35, November 2011, 978 0 19 954648 0
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... and talent could not guarantee self-sufficiency. For all the distinction of her writing, Christina Rossetti was never able to secure an adequate income. Her attempts to do so by founding a school with her mother, as Elizabeth Sewell had done with her sister, ended in failure. For most of her adult life, she needed the financial support of her ...

Pork Chops

John Bayley, 25 April 1991

Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Very Private Life 
by Robert Bernard Martin.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £18, April 1991, 0 00 217662 9
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... poet’ means anything, Hopkins’s friend Robert Bridges has arguably a higher claim; while Christina Rossetti, whose verse Hopkins was fond of, wears better than he does, has more subtleties to offer as the reader grows older. Hopkins’s haunting sense of inadequacy is in a way all the more upsetting because true: the block had nothing much ...

In a Dry Place

Nicolas Tredell, 11 October 1990

On the Look-Out: A Partial Autobiography 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 85635 758 8
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In Two Minds: Guesses at Other Writers 
by C.H. Sisson.
Carcanet, 296 pp., £18.95, September 1990, 0 85635 877 0
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... at 15, Brooke and Flecker; in the Sixth Form, he has ‘a passionate affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti’, who becomes ‘an obsession’. But he asks for Eliot’s Poems 1909-25 as his school leaving prize in 1931. At university, he ‘was taught literature by the light of Bradley and Saintsbury but learned it by the light of Eliot and Pound’. They ...

Want-of-Tin and Want-of-Energy

Dinah Birch: The lives of the Rossettis, 20 May 2004

The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel RossettiThe Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume One 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 464 pp., £95, July 2002, 9780859915281
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The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel RossettiThe Formative Years 1835-62: Charlotte Street to Cheyne Walk. Volume Two 
edited by William Fredeman.
Brewer, 640 pp., £95, July 2002, 0 85991 637 5
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William and Lucy: The Other Rossettis 
by Angela Thirlwell.
Yale, 376 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 300 10200 3
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... Martineau’s writing was shaped by complicated feelings for her brother James. The work of the Rossetti family is among the most conspicuous examples of this pattern. Four children were born in consecutive years in the late 1820s: Maria, Gabriel Charles (later to call himself Dante Gabriel), William and Christina. Their ...

Is everybody’s life like this?

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Amy Levy, 16 November 2000

Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters 
by Linda Hunt Beckman.
Ohio, 331 pp., £49, May 2000, 0 8214 1329 5
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... of female melancholy that descends from Letitia Landon and Felicia Hemans to Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti. She also looks, understandably, for the personal origins of Levy’s despair, while acknowledging that many of the facts in the case remain elusive. After a century in private hands, Levy’s manuscripts and letters became accessible to ...


Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... in it – poets such as John Clare, Thomas Hood, Richard Corbett, Henry Carey, and pre-eminently Christina Rossetti. Paulin has some inspired choices from her, alive to her inspiration in such very different poems as ‘I caught a little ladybird’ and ‘The Iniquity of the Fathers upon the Children’. This last, a 16-page poem I had never registered ...

Prolonging her absence

Danny Karlin, 8 March 1990

The Wimbledon Poisoner 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 307 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 571 14242 7
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The Other Occupant 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 168 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 0 333 52509 4
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by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 511 pp., £13.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3260 4
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... Browning; LaMotte is compounded from (but again, not reducible to) Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson. (Byatt lectured on all these writers in the days when she taught in the English Department of ‘Prince Albert College’ where Roland is a postgraduate – a place instantly recognisable to current members by ‘the ...

A Question of Breathing

John Bayley, 4 August 1988

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... And this kind of discovery was to be a vital inspiration to other women, and to women poets, like Christina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson, who so much admired her. When Emily Dickinson says in a poem, ‘I’m nobody’, it means she has found out how to be her own sort of somebody, and Elizabeth’s example had pointed the way. This highly original and ...

Nicely Combed

Matthew Reynolds: Ungaretti, 4 December 2003

Selected Poems 
by Giuseppe Ungaretti, translated by Andrew Frisardi.
Carcanet, 287 pp., £14.95, April 2003, 1 85754 672 5
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... subjected to minute examination. In this respect, his nearest counterpart in English is perhaps Christina Rossetti, herself bilingual. Like hers, his crystalline poems often emerged from a process of cutting; in his work, as in hers, the placing of words has an almost pictorial suggestiveness. When he began composing poetry soon after the outbreak of ...

Metropolitan Miscreants

Matthew Bevis: Victorian Bloomsbury, 4 July 2013

Victorian Bloomsbury 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Yale, 380 pp., £25, July 2012, 978 0 300 15447 4
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Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810-40: Cockney Adventures 
by Gregory Dart.
Cambridge, 297 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 1 107 02492 2
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... Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, Arthur Hugh Clough, William Morris, several of the Pre-Raphaelites, Christina Rossetti, Mary Braddon, Robert Louis Stevenson and J.M. Barrie. Ashton glances at these figures, but they tend to be used as hooks on which to hang the thoroughness of her scholarship, rather than as voices that might complicate her progress ...

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