Dante’s Dream: Rossetti’s Reading of the Vita Nuova Through the Lens of a Double Translation

Chiara Moriconi


Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s work as an interlinguistic and intersemiotic translator of the Vita Nuova reveals much about his characteristic adaptation of Dante to the new sensibility of Victorian poetry and art. After translating the episode of the dream of Beatrice’s death into English, Rossetti goes on to illustrate it in an early watercolor version (1865), and then in a final monumental oil (1871) which will be closely examined in this article. By focusing on both phases of Rossettian translation this article means to show how Rossetti derives from the Florentine a distinctively Dantesque iconographic repertoire which he then develops into a post-Romantic set of poetics. It is precisely in the distance between Dante’s poetry and Rossetti’s double works of art that the latter’s understanding of and autonomy from Dante has to be traced.


Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Dante Alighieri; Vita Nuova; intersemiotic translation; interlinguistic translation; Victorian literature and art; Pathetic Fallacy

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