The Can-Can at Valentino's

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1849 October
Rhyme: abbaabbaccddcd
Meter: iambic pentameter
Genre: sonnet


Editorial glosses and textual notes are available in a pop-up window. Line numbering reflects the structure of the DGR's manuscript letter to his brother .

Scholarly Commentary


DGR's coarse sonnet is one of the most autobiographically revealing texts we have from him. A classic example of sexist prurience, the lines are all the more valuable for the unguarded character of their expression. Needless to say, and as DGR's comment on the lines indicates (see his letter to WMR of 8 October 1849, where DGR sent the sonnet to his brother), he had no intention of seeing the sonnet pass beyond his brother's ken (or perhaps his brother and some of the PRB brethren as well).

Textual History: Composition

The sonnet was composed around 7 October 1849.

Printing History

First printed by WMR, in an expurgated text, in 1911. First unexpurgated printing is in Fredeman, Correspondence 49. 18 .


Odd at first though it may seem, the sonnet is closely connected with DGR's most politically and socially self-conscious writings. Modern Europe and especially France is the focus of these works, as one can see by comparing this sonnet with (for example) “After the French Liberation of Italy” and “On Refusal of Aid Between Nations”, as well as with the other poems associated more directly with those works: for example, “On a Handful of French Money” and “The Staircase of Notre Dame, Paris” (both written in France at the same time as this sonnet), and “Jenny”, DGR's great summatory treatment of the set of related topics that run through these works.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 33-1849.raw.xml