資料彙整   /   作家  /  Christina  Rossetti  克莉斯緹娜.羅塞蒂
Christina  Rossetti
克莉斯緹娜.羅塞蒂
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主要文類:Poem
資料提供者:Kate Liu/劉紀雯;Ray Schulte/蕭笛雷
關鍵字詞:Introduction to Literature 1998/1999 English Literature 19th Century Victorian Period

克莉斯緹娜羅塞蒂

1830-1894

 
 早年生活

     A. 家庭背景

     B. 嶄露頭角

 成年時期

     A. 失敗的婚約

     B. 作品風格

 
 年生活    
  A. 家庭背景

克莉斯緹娜羅塞蒂(Christina Georgina Rossetti, 後稱羅塞蒂)出生於1830年的倫敦,在羅塞蒂家庭中排行老么。法蘭卻斯(Frances Lavinia)與加百利羅塞蒂(Gabriele Rossetti)的四個子女全由家學淵博的母親親自教導。老大瑪莉亞(Maria Francesca)終生未嫁,但有出書。老二但丁(Dante Gabriel)和老三威廉均積極投入前拉斐爾兄弟會,但丁更是其主要畫家與詩人。威廉(William Michael)學習印刷排版,並於日後為羅塞蒂作傳。而年紀最小的克莉斯緹娜Christina Georgina)則於1843年後,父親因病辭去大學教職且兄姊皆忙於工作養家之時,擔負起照顧病重的父親的責任,並且追隨其母親和姊姊一同成為新教徒,積極為新教傳播教義、參與其活動。一如其姊,羅塞蒂終生未嫁。

B. 嶄露頭角

羅塞蒂從小深受文學涵養深厚的祖父母及其母親的疼愛及鼓勵,從小便展現散文、詩歌等文學創作風采。二十歲那年,羅塞蒂在其兄的協助下,以艾倫(Ellen Alleyne)為其筆名於前拉斐爾兄弟會資助的雜誌萌發The Germ)中嶄露頭角,共發表了七首詩。此後,直至1862年,羅塞蒂的作品精靈市集與其他The Goblin Market and Other Poems)甫由麥可米倫(Macmillan)出版公司出版成冊。

 

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 成年時期   
  A. 失敗的婚約

羅塞蒂一生中曾有兩次婚約。1848年,芳齡十八的羅塞蒂與詹姆士柯林生(James Collinson)訂婚,但由於隨後柯林生改信天主教,因而羅塞蒂與其解除婚約。羅塞蒂第二次解除婚約是在1862年,因其未婚夫查爾斯凱利(Charles Begot Cayley),並無特定宗教信仰,致使篤信新教福音的羅塞蒂再次與婚姻擦身而過。

B. 作品風格

觀察力敏銳的羅塞蒂自小深受大自然景觀影響,常將其觀察的人事景物描寫於詩篇、散文之中。一般傳記作者相信,成年後的羅塞蒂因照顧長年臥病在床的父親,並且受到兩次婚約解除的遭遇,將期間所遭受的為難、挫折以及傷感、憂鬱等特質都融入其詩篇之中。同時,因長久與母親及姊姊同住,並於其晚年照顧母姊及其同為單身瘓疾的兩位阿姨,這樣長期與女性共處,投身於失婚、再生婦女之家的工作中,使得羅塞蒂將深刻的體驗與感受反應投注在作品裡。也因此描寫姊妹情誼的作品往往成為羅塞蒂著名的代表特色。(請參見The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems簡介)

 

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Christina Georgina Rossetti

1830-1894

 
 Early Life

     A. Family Background

     B. Begin to Shine

 Emotional Crises

     A. Nursing

     B. Refusal to Marriage

 Features of Work

     A. Sources of Inspiration

     B. Characteristics of Her Poetry

 Later Life

 
 Early Life
  A. Family Background

Born on December 5, 1830 in London, Christina Georgina Rossetti was the youngest child in the family.  Like her two brothers, William Michael and Dante Gabriele, and sister, Maria Francesca, Christina Georgina was educated at home by her well-read mother, Frances Lavinia Rossetti( who was the intellectual second daughter of an Italian émigré, Gaetano Polidori). 

The Rossetti children were all prominent for their literary performance.  Maria was a published author whereas William Michael and Dante Gabriele were strongly engaged in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  After their father, Gabrielee Rossetti, was forced to give up his post in King's College, the Rossetti children endeavored to work to support the family.  And it was this time that Christina began to shine with her poetry.

B. Begin to Shine

Christina Rossetti was the favorite of the four children to her mother and maternal grandfather.  Strongly influenced by her revolutionary grandfather, Christina was encouraged strong in her writing.  At the age of 12, Christina dedicated her first verse to her mother.  Later, her poems were published with the help of her brothers.  Under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyne, she published, as she turned 20, 7 poems in The Germ the magazine sponsored by Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  Not until 1862 did Macmillan accept for publication Goblin Market and Other Poems as books.

 

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 Emotional Crises
  A. Nursing

When Gabrielee Rossetti was bed-ridden in 1843, all of the Rossetti children worked to help the family.  Maria started to teach when she was only 16; William worked as a clerk and began to be paid for literary employment later in 1850.  Dante Gabriele remained strongly attached to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and continued as an artist and poet whereas the youngest child of the family, Christina nursed the weak and partially blind father. 

Nursing was never easy for Christina.  Being the closest one to her father's sick bed, it is believed that Christina was influenced by the burden of this nursing job and hence became melancholy and ill.  As a result, poor health and sometimes hysteria appeared as an effect in Christina's poetry.

B. Refusal to Marriage

In 1848, Christina Rossetti was engaged to James Collinson.  This engagement later was broken off because of Collinson's conversion to Catholicism.  As an active participant in the High Church Movement, Rossetti refused Charles Bagot Cayley's marriage offer in 1862.  The reason may be that Cayley did not have a firm religious faith.  Yet, Rossetti valued and cherished the intellectual friendship with Cayley so this marriage refusal had shown a great impact of frustration on Rossetti's poems.

 

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 Features of Work  
  A. Sources of Inspiration

Closely connected with her maternal grandparents, Rossetti was not merely encouraged by them in writing but influenced by a memorable visit to their place at Holmer Green.  As a child, Rossetti was thrilled by nature.  Rossetti creative wrote about the animals and creatures that she observed when she roamed in the countryside and zoos.  On her first visit of Regents Park Zoo with Dante Gabriele, Rossetti showed talent writing verses about birds such as canaries (that later appear several times in her dreams and poems). 

B. Characteristics of Her Poetry

Although Dante Gabriele held to his opinions that Christina Rossetti's melancholic disposition was due to her religious fanaticism, her works express her spirit of independent and liberal thoughts and unyielding resistance toward patriarchal society.  In addition, Rossetti seemed to hold back her frustration in love; instead, she instilled this frustrated love (due to the two unsuccessful marriage proposal) into her poems.  Thus, in many of Rossetti's early poems, a sense of sadness and melancholic perception can be perceived.

The theme of sisterhood is the most prominent charcteristic revealed in her poems.  Throughout her life, Rossetti maintained a close relationship with her family, especially her sister Maria and mother Lavinia.  Rossetti lived with her sister and mother from 1854 to 1873, and after William Michael's marriage to Lucy Madox Brown, Rossetti and her mother moved out because of the difference in religion.  Through working as tutors and teachers, helping various charity institutions and participating in the women's movement, Rossetti identified with Florence Nightingale and endeavored to help the poor and hence promote women's status.  Women such as her sister Maria, mother Lavinia and the maiden aunts Eliza and Margaret were sturdy support and intellectual companions to Rossetti all her life. 

 

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 Later Life
  The1970s, Christina Rossetti took care of her siblings, mother and aunts.  Dante Gabriele became critically in 1967, and both Rossetti and her mother were devoted to Dante Gabriele until he died.  Despite her witnessing the deaths of beloved ones, Rossetti continually engaged in her religious writing for Anglicanism.  After 1865, Rossetti kept on writing poems and religious monologues, devotional prose, and children's verses, it took her 15 more years to complete another poem collection.  Because of cancer, Christina Rossetti passed away in the Torrington Square house in London in 1894. 

 

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Reference  
Leder, Sharon with Andrea Abbott.  The Language of Exclusion: The Poetry of Emily Dickenson and Christina Rossetti.  NY: Greenwood P, 1987.
   

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