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Old 01-12-2019, 12:54 PM   #1
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Goblin Market and Other Poems by Christina Rossetti

'Goblin Market and Other Poems was Christina Rossetti's first full volume of poetry, published in 1862. The collection received widespread critical praise and established Rossetti as the foremost female poet of her time. Tennyson, Hopkins and Swinburne all admired her work. The title poem 'Goblin Market' is arguably her most famous, a fairy tale entwining themes of sisterhood, temptation and sexuality. This collection also includes 'Up-hill', an allegorical dialogue on life and death and 'Maude Clare', a ballad of a woman scorned.'

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We're trying out discussion sections as an encouragement to keep those reading on a more similar timeline and perhaps foster more discussion. These are only softly recommended however and not required at all. Anyone can discuss any part or aspect of the selection at any time.

Recommended discussion timeframe starts for approximately 89 pages divided into four quarters-

The first quarter, pages 1-22: immediately

The second quarter, pages 23-44: Saturday the 19th of January

The third quarter, pages 45-66: Saturday the 26th of January

The fourth quarter, pages 67-89: Saturday the 2nd of February


This is the MR Literary Club selection for January 2019. Everyone is welcome so feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time; the more the merrier!


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Old 01-12-2019, 01:05 PM   #2
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The centre cover image was illustrated by her brother Dante and is the cover page for the (I think) first edition.

Also, for those interested in listening, I'm surprised to find that there is an Audible version of Rossetti's poems. I'm not sure exactly which poems are included compared to our selection but it's narrated by actress Natascha McElhone and is titled In the Bleak Midwinter, Goblin Market and Other Poems.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:27 PM   #3
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There is a nice illustrated version of this at the University of Adelaide
https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/r/ros...goblin_market/
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:03 AM   #4
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If you don't mind spending a little money, I think the complete work of Delphi Classics would be a good bargain. You will get almost everything of Christina Rossetti in this Ebook.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:34 PM   #5
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There are also various audio-readings at Librivox.
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:17 PM   #6
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There are also various audio-readings at Librivox.
I've just finished reading along to the Librivox recording of Goblin Market and I have to say that as a poetry novice, it definitely helped. I really doubt I'll have anything useful to contribute to the discussion, as my reaction overall could be summed up as "subtle it ain't", but I look forward to reading what more practiced poetry readers have to say, and to reading along with the rest of the poems.
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:41 PM   #7
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This literally made me laugh out loud, so I wanted to share it here:

Goblin Market's imagery is really quite direct and hard to miss, which puts a whole new spin on Enid Blyton, apparently - maybe the Five Go Mad crew had it right
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:12 AM   #8
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I am using an edition of Goblin Market that uses the illustrations of Lawrence Housman (brother of the poet A.E.Housman). They effectively resonate with the strange imagery of the poem.

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Old 01-18-2019, 05:51 AM   #9
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I am using an edition of Goblin Market that uses the illustrations of Lawrence Housman (brother of the poet). They effectively resonate with the strange imagery of the poem.
Wasn't her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti? The Delphi Classics edition I have is one that uses his illustrations.
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:09 PM   #10
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Wasn't her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti? The Delphi Classics edition I have is one that uses his illustrations.
Whoops! That was unclear on my part. I meant that Lawrence Housman was the brother of the more famous A.E.Housman who was a poet. I'll rephrase it.
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:24 PM   #11
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Whoops! That was unclear on my part. I meant that Lawrence Housman was the brother of the more famous A.E.Housman who was a poet. I'll rephrase it.

D'Oh! I should've parsed that correctly. It didn't help that for some reason I thought the poet was Hausman - the dangers of high school German, I guess.
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:43 PM   #12
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The Goblin Market was supposedly written for children along with Speaking Likenesses and Sing Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book. But unlike the last two GM has such extraordinary imagery with quite adult references that it is difficult to imagine that it was intended primarily for children.

The title originally intended by Christina was "A Peep at the Goblins--to M.F.R."
This provides one layer of the symbolism in the story. M.F.R. refers to Christina's sister, Maria Francesca Rossetti. Thus, one critic, Lona M.Packer suggests that the symbolic understory of the poem deals with Christina's obsessive love for William Bell Scott--a minor poet and painter who was a close friend of Christina"s brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

At the time the poem was written Scott had fallen in love with another woman. Maria was a great aid in helping her sister handle the depression occasioned by the collapse of the love affair. Packer claims that "Laura" represents Christina and "Lizzie" is Maria. The Goblins offer a forbidden fruit which Laura desires but which will in the end lead only to depression and isolation because it can never lead to joy and fulfilment.

Certainly, there is also a considerable amount of Christian imagery and Christina was a very devout High Anglican. So one can build a set of religious meanings quite easily in the poem.

However the poetic imagery is imbued with an astonishing sense of repressed sexuality. If the fruit Laura has tasted is the love for Scot then there is a sense of it being replaced by a Lesbian relationship which turns out to be the deeper bond.

So . . . you can go in all sorts of directions here.

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Old 01-18-2019, 03:56 PM   #13
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I really enjoyed Goblin Market, probably because its imagery was clear even for a novice like me. It was also the most upbeat of the poems in the anthology. I was surprised at how many of the rest were about death. Even the one that I was most worried about reading, In the Tower at Jhansi. It wasn't the ra-ra imperialist ode I'd feared, just a simple piece about suicide. And from then on it seemed like 2/3 of the anthology were about death. Not morbid, and interesting to read, but it seems the impermanence of life was a major theme for her. That and the shallow perfidy of men.
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:46 PM   #14
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I've just finished reading along to the Librivox recording of Goblin Market and I have to say that as a poetry novice, it definitely helped. I really doubt I'll have anything useful to contribute to the discussion, as my reaction overall could be summed up as "subtle it ain't", but I look forward to reading what more practiced poetry readers have to say, and to reading along with the rest of the poems.
I was surprised by how blatant it was. I was expecting dark undertones but Rossetti was pretty blunt about the message. I really liked it though.
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:56 PM   #15
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The Goblin Market was supposedly written for children along with Speaking Likenesses and Sing Song: A Nursery Rhyme Book. But unlike the last two GM has such extraordinary imagery with quite adult references that it is difficult to imagine that it was intended primarily for children.

The title originally intended by Christina was "A Peep at the Goblins--to M.F.R."
This provides one layer of the symbolism in the story. M.F.R. refers to Christina's sister, Maria Francesca Rossetti. Thus, one critic, Lona M.Packer suggests that the symbolic understory of the poem deals with Christina's obsessive love for William Bell Scott--a minor poet and painter who was a close friend of Christina"s brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

At the time the poem was written Scott had fallen in love with another woman. Maria was a great aid in helping her sister handle the depression occasioned by the collapse of the love affair. Packer claims that "Laura" represents Christina and "Lizzie" is Maria. The Goblins offer a forbidden fruit which Laura desires but which will in the end lead only to depression and isolation because it can never lead to joy and fulfilment.

Certainly, there is also a considerable amount of Christian imagery and Christina was a very devout High Anglican. So one can build a set of religious meanings quite easily in the poem.

However the poetic imagery is imbued with an astonishing sense of repressed sexuality. If the fruit Laura has tasted is the love for Scot then there is a sense of it being replaced by a Lesbian relationship which turns out to be the deeper bond.

So . . . you can go in all sorts of directions here.
Thanks for that background info; it definitely gives the poem context. While the poem does read like a sort of fairy tale, I just can't imagine this would've passed muster as 'for children'.

It's interesting that you interpreted something of a lesbian relationship between the women. I didn't get that but it's something to think on. You did however with your comment bring to mind Carmilla, written close to the same time, which has very strong lesbian overtones.
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