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Publisher Description

Any reader of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's ekphrastic poems (that is, poems at take a work of art as their object) must be struck by the ineffability he attributes to paintings or the subjects they represent. Leonardo da Vinci's Our Lady of the Rocks deals with "things occult"; Andrea Mantenga's Allegorical Dance of Women is full of the "secret of the wells of Life," which the heart knows but the mind can know nothing of. These visual scenes are "mysteries," a word Rossetti uses to open three of his ekphrastic poems. (1) They cannot be known intellectually, cannot be solved. Their meaning can only be vaguely intuited but cannot be expressed. Rossetti seems to be positing himself as a votive at Art's altar, a humble supplicant whose understanding cannot comprehend the goddess he serves, but whose heart holds some intuition of her meaning. But is such humbleness genuine, or is this insistence on the radical distance between art and the observer actually a way of asserting a more subtle mastery on the part of the observer, the poet, over the visual arts? I will argue that Rossetti's insistence on the mystery of the visual arts fits into a long transcendental and Romantic tendency to see in the ineffable not so much a failure of mastery as an eventual triumph of the observer who can conceptualize the ineffable, even as he (a pronoun I use intentionally here) cannot fully comprehend or sense it. The mystery which Rossetti attributes to the visual arts has its roots in concepts like Kant's mathematical sublime, in which the viewer of the infinite is sensorially overwhelmed by the expanse but triumphs in his very ability to conceptualize infinity.

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2007
June 22
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
29
Pages
PUBLISHER
West Virginia University Press, University of West Virginia
SIZE
222.9
KB

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