[This document is a note to the author's "William Holman Hunt on Poetry."]

Not all Hunt's mentions of Dante in private correspondence are this hostile to the great poet, yet the only truly positive remark on Dante I have discovered in the painter's correspondence appears in a letter of November 20, 1871 to W. M. Rossetti, a close friend to whom an attack on the poet would have seemed a personal insult. Hunt wrote: "Dante's dignity I like much better for his grotesque incidents. Modern poetry too often fails in its grandeur by the want of one touch of nature or familiarity. When I am reading it I feel the man is mouthing. In Dante and all the grand poets I never feel that and I attribute it to the fact that his eyes see and his hand shews you the mean as well as the great] grand, all in proper place of course, yet I never am able to regard Dante's grotesqueness as humour. I wish, however, Milton's 'Paradise Lost' had some of this familiarity and grimness" (Huntington Uncat. L/F).


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Last modified 12 June 2007 2004