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Record 16933

Reading Experience:

'You must be tired of my ugly handwriting - yet your book is so suggestive that one wants to talk about it - the more I read the more I am enchanted by it. - I have been struck however by your mention of Dante - which seems founded entirely on the Inferno - a poem I can only read bits of - the subject being to me so antipatetica but the Purgatorio & Paradiso - the Poet revels in beauty & joy there to the full as much as the horrors below - and some of his verses & even whole Cantos lap one in a gentle sort of Elysium - or carry one into the skies - Can anything be so wondrously poetical as the approach of the boat with souls from earth to Purgatory - Shelley's most favourite passage - the Angels guarding Purgatory from infernal spirits - the whole tone of hope - & the calm enjoyment of Matilda is something quite unearthly in its sweetness - & then the glory of Paradise - I do not rely on my own taste but the following verses appear to me to belong to the highest class of imagination; they occur in the last Canto of the Pardiso after the vision he has of beatitude -il mio veder fu maggio Che'l parlar nostro, ch'a tal vista cede. E cede la memoria al tanto oltraggio Quale e colui ch soguando vede, E dopo 'l sogno la passione impressa Rimane, e l'altro alla menta non riede Cotal son io, che quassi tutta cessa Mia visione, e ancor mi distila Nel cuor lo dolce, che nacque da essa. Cosi la neve al sole disigilla Cosi al vento nele foglie lievi Si perdea la sentenzia di Sibilla - Will you think me hypercritical about a most beautiful stanza of Keats - It was the sky lark not the nightingale that Ruth heard "amid the alien corn" - the sky lark soars and sings above the shearers perpetually - The nightingale sings at night - in shady places - & never so late in the season - May is her month - Excuse all this' [letter to Leigh Hunt]
Century: 1800-1849
Date: Until: 15 Nov 1844
Country: n/a
Time: n/a
Place: n/a
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Mary Shelley
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Female
Date of Birth 30 Aug 1797
Socio-economic group: Gentry
Occupation: writer
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: n/a
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Dante Alighieri
Title: Purgatorio
Genre: Poetry
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 16933  
Source - Print  
  Author: n/a
  Editor: Betty T. Bennett
  Title: The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  Place of Publication: Baltimore / London
  Date of Publication: 1988
  Vol: III
  Page: 161
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: Betty T. Bennett (ed.), The Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Baltimore / London, 1988), III, p. 161,, accessed: 18 July 2019

Additional comments:

Mary read this on several occasions.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)