Christina Rossetti revisited
Although recognized by her Victorian peers as among the finest of living poets, Christina Rossetti has earned the dubious distinction of having her life prove more fascinating than her art. Her association with the Pre-Raphaelites, of which her brother Dante Gabriel was a major exponent, and her strong religious convictions have contributed to a pervasive image of the poet as a saintly and reclusive neurotic. Rossetti's literary reputation rests largely on "Goblin Market" and a few short, melancholy lyrics, but like many Victorians she was a prolific writer, producing well over a thousand poems. In her lifetime she published six volumes of poetry that, in turn, provided material for two collected editions of her work, and also six volumes of devotional prose, two collections of fiction, and a juvenile novella.
In revisiting the copious works of Christina Rossetti, Sharon Smulders focuses on the poet's versatility as a writer. Smulders sees Rossetti as a writer interested in fostering and sustaining possibilities for feminine self-expression; she carefully observes the way the poet engaged in a range of formal experiments in both prose and verse and frequently resisted or dislocated established generic conventions to achieve her ends. Smulders also sees Rossetti as a writer very much of her time: her attitudes toward contemporary social, religious, and aesthetic issues inform the thematic and formal preoccupations of her work.
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