The Circle of Our Vision: Dante's Presence in English Romantic Poetry
Clarendon Press, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 267 pages
The sudden and spectacular growth in Dante's popularity in England at the end of the eighteenth century was immensely influential for English writers of the period. But the impact of Dante on English writers has rarely been analysed and its history has been little understood. Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Blake, and Wordsworth all wrote or painted while Dante's work - its style, project, and achievement commanded their attention and provoked their disagreement. The Circle of Our Vision discusses each of these writers in detail, assessing the nature of their engagement with the Divine Comedy and the consequences for their own work. It explores how Romantic poets understood Dante, what they valued in his poetry and why, and sets them in the context of contemporary commentators, translators, and illustrators (including Henry Fuseli and John Flaxman), both in England and Europe. Romantic readings of the Divine Comedy are shown to disturb our own ideas about Dante, which are based on Victorian and Modernist assumptions. An important contribution to Romantic and Dante scholarship, The Circle of Our Vision also presents a reconsideration of the concept of 'influence' in general, using the example of Dante's presence in Romantic poetry to challenge Harold Bloom's belief that the relations between poets are invariably a fight to the death.
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