‘Great Love and Long Study’: Dante, Petrarch, and Monna Innominata

  • Dinah Roe


Monna Innominata is a sonnet sequence consisting of 14 sonnets, each one preceded by a double epigraph from Dante and Petrarch. Its daunting length has meant that individual sonnets have often garnered more critical attention than the sequence as a whole.1 Rossetti herself would have resisted this practice. Refusing an American editor permission to excerpt Monna Innominata, she explained: ‘Such compound work has a connection (very often) which is of interest to the author and which an editor gains nothing by discarding’.2 In the interest of reading in the spirit of Rossetti, this chapter addresses the sonnet sequence in its entirety. Although I do not, for reasons of space, include the whole text of Monna Innominata, it can be found on pages 86–93 in Volume 2 of the Crump edition.


Female Speaker Emphasis Mine Divine Love Human Love Divine Comedy 
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  1. 3.
    For more on this subject, see Marguerite Mills Chiarenza, The Divine Comedy: Tracing God’s Art (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989), p. 11.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    S. T. Coleridge, ‘Lecture on Dante’, Coleridge’s Miscellaneous Criticism, ed. Thomas Middleton Raysor (London: Constable and Co., Ltd., 1936), p. 152.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Steve Ellis, Dante and English Poetry: Shelley to T. S. Eliot (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 107.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    DGR, ‘Dante At Verona’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Collected Writings, ed. Jan Marsh. (London: J. M. Dent, 1999), ll. 415–20.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    CGR, “Dante: The Poet Illustrated Out of the Poem”, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine 27, (February 1884) 572.Google Scholar
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    CGR, “Dante, An English Classic”, Churchman’s Shilling Magazine and Family Treasury 2, (1867) 200.Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    Francis Hueffer, The Troubadours (London: Chatto and Windus, 1878), p. 272.Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    Lord Byron, ‘Don Juan’, (1821) The Complete Poetical Works, ed. Jerome J. McGann, vol. 5 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), canto 3:8.Google Scholar

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© Dinah Roe 2007

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  • Dinah Roe

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