Note 55, Chapter 5 of the author's Christina Rossetti in Context which the University of North Carolina Press published in 1988. It appears in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.
Battiscombe records the significant reactions of friends and relations to the Monna Innominata when it was first published in 1881: "Dante Gabriel wrote to his mother,' [Watts-Dunton and 1] are both deeply impressed by the beauty of the Monna Innominata series' — a sequence also praised by [W. B.] Scott, who judged the book as a whole to be 'rich in beautiftul thoughts'" (Christina Rossetti, 169-70). Bell describes the Monna Innorninata and the sonnet sequence, Later Life, as the two "chief glories" of A Pageant and Other Poems (Christina Rossetti, 253). Thomas calls it "great" (Christina Georgina Rossetti, 70). Stuart finds in the Monna Innominata "a pitch of eloquence which Christina seldom attains elsewhere, and which she does not surpass" ("Christina Rossetti," 13). Elsewhere Stuart compares the sonnets' effect to that of "a chaplet of perfectly matched pearls" (Christina Rossetti, 123). Zaturenska asserts that the Monna Innominata is "one of the great sonnet sequences in the English language, and in a handful some of the most poignant love poems in English.... They are, certainly, among the finest poems by any woman who has written poetry in English" (Christina Rossetti, 155). More recently, Bellas reminds us that "contemporary reviewers singled [the Monna Innominata] out for special praise" (Christina Rossetti, 70). And Rees deplores the fact that the sonnets, "a fine piece of work," are "almost entirely ignored by modern criticism" (Poetry of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 148).
Last modified 24 June 2007