Italy and the English Romantics: The Italianate Fashion in Early Nineteenth-Century England

By C. P. Brand | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The connection between Italy and the English Romantics is obvious: Wordsworth made three visits to Italy; Byron and Shelley spent the most productive years of their lives there; Coleridge was for eight months in southern Italy and Sicily, and Keats' grave is in Rome. The presence in Italy of the Romantic poets calls therefore for some explanation. Was it by chance that so many English authors assembled in Florence and Rome? It was of course partly the climate which attracted them: Scott and Keats hoped to recover their health in Italy. It was also partly the cheapness of living: £150 a year in Italy brought all the conveniences of life 'except a carriage'. The reasons however for the choice of Italy are more complex. It was not merely the country which attracted the English, but almost anything Italian: the language, literature, art, music, history, even the political aspirations of the Italians. In the early nineteenth century a knowledge of Italian and some acquaintance with Italian literature were considered normal and even necessary, not only to scholars and poets, but also to the well-educated young men and women of the upper classes; a journey to Italy formed the customary conclusion to the school or university education of a young man of good family; an accomplished young lady was expected to be able to sing in Italian, and every family of fashion had a box at the Italian Opera. Painters based their education on Raphael, Michael Angelo and Titian, sculptors on the antique art-treasures of Rome and Florence, architects on the buildings of Greeks, Romans and Renaissance Italians in Italy and Sicily. Poets sang the beauties of Italy's landscape, novelists exploited the fascination of her history, scholars translated her literature, antiquarians explored her ancient remains. Early nineteenth-century England was in fact smitten with an Italo-mania, or Italianate fashion, which has since quite disappeared.

The English Romantic interest in Italy raises a number of questions which have so far remained unanswered. How serious was the attention paid to Italian culture? Was it merely a superficial social fashion, or were Italian literature and the arts carefully studied and appreciated at something approaching their true worth? Why this preoccupation with Italy, rather than any other European

-ix-

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Italy and the English Romantics: The Italianate Fashion in Early Nineteenth-Century England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Plates vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Travel and Language 5
  • Chapter 1 - The English Travellers in Italy 7
  • Chapter 2 - The Italian Exiles in England 26
  • Chapter 3 - Study of the Italian Language 36
  • II - Literature The Interest in Italian Literature and Its Influence in England 47
  • Chapter 4 - Dante 49
  • Chapter 3 - Italian Romantic Narrative Poetry 73
  • Chapter 6 - Italian Lyric Poetry 93
  • Chapter 7 - The Italian Novelle 109
  • Chapter 8 - Italian Drama and Other Works 120
  • III - The Arts and Landscape 135
  • Chapter 9 - English Interest in Italian Painting, Sculpture and Architecture 137
  • Chapter 10 - The Classical Antiquities 159
  • Chapter II - The Appeal of the Italian Scene 165
  • Chapter 12 - Italian Opera in England 174
  • IV - History, Politics and Religion 185
  • Chapter 13 - The Romance of Italian History 187
  • Chapter 14 - English Reaction to Political Events in Italy 196
  • Chapter 15 - The Catholic Question 215
  • Conclusion 225
  • Appendix A 235
  • Appendix B 237
  • Appendix C 238
  • Appendix D 246
  • Appendix E 248
  • Appendix F 250
  • Appendix G 251
  • Appendix H 253
  • Bibliography 255
  • Notes 261
  • Index 277
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