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Introduction

  • Dinah Roe
Chapter

Abstract

Virginia Woolf once wrote that if she were to put God on trial, she would summon Christina Rossetti as a witness.1 If Rossetti’s devotional work were submitted into evidence, this case would almost certainly result in a hung jury, if not an outright acquittal. Woolf’s indictment of God comes up hard against the same problem that faces all of Rossetti’s critics: a long and diverse career which takes our ‘witness’, and her beliefs and influences, from novice to authority. Rossetti’s poetic imagination was shaped by her faith, and her faith by her poetic imagination, in a symbiotic relationship that intensified over her half-century of writing. As critics are beginning to observe, it is a mistake to think, as Woolf does, that ‘years of traffic with men and books did not affect [Rossetti] in the least’.2 The development of her faithful imagination is so subtle and slow that it is all too easy to miss, especially if there is an attempt to force a clear distinction, as Germaine Greer does, between ‘the poems of Rossetti’s rebellion and self-assertion’ and ‘those of her resignation and self-denial’.

Keywords

Religious Faith Feminist Criticism Christian Doctrine Poetic Imagination Diverse Career 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader, Second Series (London: Hogarth Press, 1932), p. 242.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Germaine Greer, Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection, and the Woman Poet (London: Viking, 1995), p. 359.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Betty S. Flowers, introduction to The Complete Poems, ed. R. W. Crump (London: Penguin, 2001), xlvii.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    WMR, preface to New Poems by Christina Rossetti, Hitherto Unpublished or Uncollected (London: Macmillan 1900), p. xii.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Lynda Palazzo, Christina Rossetti’s Feminist Theology (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), p. 23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 8.
    Colleen Hobbs, ‘A View from “The Lowest Place”: Christina Rossetti’s Devotional Prose’, Victorian Poetry 32 (autumn–winter 1994) 409.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Robert M. Kachur, ‘Repositioning the Female Christian Reader: Christina Rossetti as Tractarian Hermeneut in The Face of the Deep’, Victorian Poetry 35, no. 2 (summer 1997) 1.Google Scholar
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    Stuart Curran, ‘The Lyric Voice of Christina Rossetti’, Victorian Poetry 9 (autumn 1971) 298.Google Scholar
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    Mary F. Sandars, introduction to The Life of Christina Rossetti (London: Hutchinson, 1930), p. 15.Google Scholar
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    Jerome McGann, ‘The Religious Poetry of Christina Rossetti’, The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations In Historical Method and Theory (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985) p. 210.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Linda E. Marshall, ‘Mysteries Beyond Angels in Christina Rossetti’s From House to Home’ in Women’s Poetry, Late Romantic to Late Victorian, eds. Isobel Armstrong and Virginia Blain (London: Macmillan, 1999), p. 313.Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Mary Arseneau, introduction to Recovering Christina Rossetti: Female Community and Incarnational Poetics (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004), p. 3.Google Scholar
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    Christina Rossetti, Maude: Prose and Verse, edited with an introduction by R. W. Crump, including a ‘Prefatory Note’ by William Michael Rossetti (Hamden, Archon Books, 1976), p. 31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dinah Roe 2007

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  • Dinah Roe

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