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«The noblest painting is a painted poem»: translating to paint. Dante Gabriel Rossetti reading Dante

Abstract : «Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life», Oscar Wilde said. Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation of Dante Alighieri's poetry may be read as a seminal life experience, which sets the pattern and method of a process of imitative self-creation. One might say that Rossetti lived his Dante. This study would suggest that Rossetti inverted the traditional ut pictura poesis into a dynamics of writing, in poetry and painting alike, aiming at faithfulness not to the subject matter but to the "new life" of the emerging virtual self. Elizabeth Siddal was Rossetti's real-life Beatrice, and love transcended and transformed their lives into art. This study is an attempt to examine another form of twoway transmediality: between life and art, βιός and τέχνη, as the epitome of inspiration lived as pneumatic circulation or spiritual exaltation (Aristote, Agamben). In an attempt to suggest a different approach to Rossetti's life and work as life-creation, this paper pays all due respect to previous Rossetti scholarship, although it cannot afford the space to synthetize them all.
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https://hal-amu.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03109620
Contributor : Francesca Manzari <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 8:10:28 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 15, 2021 - 3:25:30 AM

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Francesca Manzari. «The noblest painting is a painted poem»: translating to paint. Dante Gabriel Rossetti reading Dante. Between. Rivista dell’Associazione italiana di teoria e storia comparata della letteratura, University of Cagliari, 2020, ⟨10.13125/2039-6597/4208⟩. ⟨hal-03109620⟩

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