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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

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Petrarch  : sonnets

Harriet Martineau on her passion, aged eighteen, for translation: 'Our cousin J. M. L., then studying for his profession in Norwich, used to read Italian with Rachel [her sister] and me [...] before breakfast. We made some considerable progress, through the usual course of prose authors and poets; and out of this grew a fit which Rachel and I at one time took, in concert with our companions and neighbours, the C.'s, to translate Petrarch [sonnets] [...] I believe we really succeeded pretty well'.

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Harriet and Rachel Martineau, and "C" family     Print: Book


Petrarch  : sonnets

'Thursday Dec. 14th. [...] I read today some sonnets of Petrarch in an old edition -- Not the least attention was paid there to the concord of the gender & number of the substantive with the article, besides (as in Dante) many other grammatical errors in the persons & cases of Verbs. But so it is -- Liberty is essential to the nature of Poetry [goes on to discuss this idea further]'.

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Claire Clairmont      Print: Book


Petrarch  : "Trionfo della Morte"

From F. T. Palgrave's 'Personal Recollections' of Tennyson: 'I had put the scheme of my Golden Treasury before him during a walk near to Land's End in the late summer of 1860 [...] at the Christmas-tide following, the gathered materials [...] were laid before Tennyson for final judgement [...] With most by far of the pieces submitted he was already acquainted: but I seem to remember more of less special praise of Lodge's "Rosaline," of "My Love in her attire...": and the "Emigrant's Song" by Marvell. For some poems by that writer then with difficulty accessible, he had a special admiration: delighting to read, with a voice hardly yet to me silent, and dwelling more than once, on the magnificent hyperbole, the powerful union of pathos and humour in the lines "To his coy Mistress" [...] 'After reading Cowper's "Poplar Field": "People nowadays, I believe, hold this style and metre light; I wish there were any who could put words together with such exquisite flow and evenness." Presently we reached the same poet's stanzas to Mary Unwin. He read them, yet could barely read them, so deeply was he touched by their tender, their almost agonising pathos [...] Petrarch [...] furnished a not dissimilar instance, in the ethereally-beautiful lines on the death of Laura ("Trionfa della Morte," Cap.1) [quotes six lines] [...] I remember still the tenderness with which he dwelt on the words, the sigh of delight -- almost, perhaps, the tears -- that came naturally to the sensitive soul, as he ended'

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Alfred Tennyson      


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