The sudden and spectacular growth in Dante's popularity in England at the end of the eighteenth century was immensely influential for English writers of the period. But the impact of Dante on English writers has rarely been analysed and its history has been little understood.
Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Blake, and Wordsworth all wrote or painted while Dante's work - its style, project, and achievement commanded their attention and provoked their disagreement. The Circle of Our Vision discusses each of these writers in detail, assessing the nature of their engagement with the Divine Comedy and the consequences for their own work. It explores how Romantic poets understood Dante, what they valued in his poetry and why, and sets them in the context of contemporary commentators, translators, and illustrators (including Henry Fuseli and John Flaxman), both in England and Europe. Romantic readings of the Divine Comedy are shown to disturb our own ideas about Dante, which are based on Victorian and Modernist assumptions.
An important contribution to Romantic and Dante scholarship, The Circle of Our Vision also presents a reconsideration of the concept of 'influence' in general, using the example of Dante's presence in Romantic poetry to challenge Harold Bloom's belief that the relations between poets are invariably a fight to the death.
`An extensive influence-study comes from Ralph Pite...he shows the importance of Dante, both in Italian and in Cary's translation, to those works and others, beyond doubt. He has amassed a great quantity of useful information.'
English Studies Offprint from Volume 77 Number One January 1996
Ralph Pite's account of Dante's presence in works by Blake, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley and Byron combines impressively the scholarly and the nuanced...The Circle of our Vision offers its reader the difficult pleasure of keeping company with a mind in search of precise discriminations...One of the rewards of reading The Circle of Our Vision is the light shed on Dante's poetic practice.
`This is a learned, subtle, complex and strange book...fascinating'
Forum for Modern Language Studies
`combines impressively the scholarly and the nuanced ... As with the best moments (and there are mmany of them) in The Circle of Our Vision, the contrast grapples with detail while attending to issues of wide significance.'
Michael O'Neill, University of Durham, Review of English Studies, Vol. XLVII, No. 188, Nov '96
`Pite is sure-footed in his tracking down of Dante partly because he knows his Dante so well. ... Such is his rigour that his study represents a good deal more than what it claims; it is the most perceptive and sensitive analysis I have read of Romantic poetry for a long time, and will be tremendously useful to all Romanticists. It is beautifully written, to boot.'
Year's Work in English Studies, 1994