The Palimpsest. (Subject for Tale or Humorous Poem)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1870
Genre: story

Scholarly Commentary


DGr's several surviving prose summaries for stories he intended to write are all fascinating, this one particularly so. His fascination with gothic and uncanny topics is regularly mixed with a comic element that enhances and complicates the import of the story material. That is clearly the case here.

The figura of the palimsest is peculiarly Rossettian and stands behind a great deal of his painting and writing. In his view, “reality” is always haunted by multiple and usually conflicting presences. His masterwork, The House of Life, exemplifies this characteristic of his work perfectly, as one sees most clearly not only in the multiple presences of various personae, but also in the way he uses and re-uses various sonnets, as if they contained within themselves secret versions of themselves.

Textual History: Composition

WMR dates the poem 1870, which is a reasonable judgment (though we have no objective evidence to corroborate the date).

Printing History

First published by WMR in his 1886 edition and collected thereafter.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 32p-1870.raw.xml