'The mystery of Life, the mystery
Of Death, I see
Darkly as in a glass...'
Christina Rossetti (1830-94) is perhaps the most contradictory of the great Victorian poets. She writes of the world's beauty, but fears that it may be deceptive, even deadly. She is a religious poet, but much of her work is driven by uncertainty. Her poems are restrained, even secretive, but they seek nothing less than the mystery of Life and Death.
This edition contains Rossetti's strongest and most distinctive work: poetry (including 'Goblin Market', 'The Prince's Progress', and the sonnet sequence 'Monna Innominata'), stories (including the complete text of Maude), devotional prose (with nearly fifty entries from the 'reading diary' Times Flies), and personal letters. Those poems which Rossetti published, and those which she withheld from publication, are here brought together in chronological order, allowing the
reader to observe her poetic trajectory. This edition also records the major revisions made by Rossetti when preparing her poems for publication. It brings together the fullest range of Rossetti's poetry and prose in one volume, and is an indispensable introduction to this entrancing writer.
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Simon Humphries was formerly Fellow and Tutor in English at Trinity College, Oxford, and is now an independent scholar. His essays on Victorian literature have appeared in Victorian Poetry, Review of English Studies, and the TLS.