This book re-assesses the significance to Pre-Raphaelitism of the fundamental relationship of poem to painting, of the visual to the verbal, to examine those aspects of the movement that account for its enduring legacy. Beginning with the profound and somewhat neglected influence of Ruskin’s work upon the poets and painters, Smith focuses in particular upon the Pre-Raphaelite rehabilitation of the sister arts analogy, and an aesthetic of ekphrasis as played out in the short-lived periodical The Germ and in D.G. Rossetti’s sonnets for pictures. At the heart of the project is a new reading of the notorious circumstances of Rossetti’s ‘coffined book’ - those manuscript poems Rossetti disinterred from his wife Elizabeth Siddal’s grave – that brings to the fore the all-pervasive significance to the Pre-Raphaelites of a complex aesthetic of resurrection. With this and other examples, Smith redefines for us those categories of the corporeal and spiritual, the material and immaterial, the verbal and visual that the Pre-Raphaelites aspired to re-conceptualise.
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