Bound By Sound

Music, Victorian Masculinity and Dante Gabriel Rossetti

in Volume 20 (2008): Issue 3 (Dec 2008): Victorian Masculinities. Guest Editors: Graeme Smart and Amelia Yeates
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The masculinity of the Victorian painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) has always been a subject of intense interest for scholars of nineteenth-century British literature and art history. The question ‘how manly was Rossetti?’ resurfaces every so often, and answers have always been varied. Jay D. Sloan’s ‘Attempting “Spheral Change”: D.G. Rossetti, Victorian Masculinity and the Failure of Passion’ (2004) positions Rossetti as a nonconformist, a man who rejected gender norms and sought to express his manhood through a rhetoric of passion. Sloan’s argument provides a neat contrast to one provided by Herbert Sussman in Victorian Masculinities: Manhood and Masculine Poetics in Early Victorian Literature and Art (1995), in which Sussman argues that Rossetti crafted a ‘Bohemian’ model of manhood that, despite its veneer of otherness, allowed room for ‘masculine’ expressions of a normative nature.