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

  • Francesca Manzari Aix Marseille Univ, CIELAM, Aix-en-Provence


«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 two-way 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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Author Biography

Francesca Manzari, Aix Marseille Univ, CIELAM, Aix-en-Provence

Francesca Manzari, Senior Lecturer in general and comparative literature, specialized in mediaeval and contemporary poetry, especially in Italian, French and American poetry, works on the articulations between literature and philosophy such as they originated in thirteenth-century Tuscany to be renewed in twentieth-century modernist poetry. She is the author of a book on Derrida’s style (Écriture derridienne entre langage des rêves et critique littéraire, Peter Lang, 2009). She teaches and researches the inheritance of French Theory and psychoanalysis, as head of two postgraduate programmes at Aix-Marseille University, in Literary Translation and Literature and Psychoanalysis (LIPS).


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How to Cite
Manzari, F. (2020). «The noblest paintingis a painted poem»:translating to paint.Dante Gabriel Rossetti reading Dante. Between, 10(20), 222-243. https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/4208