Symonds and Boccaccio’s “Artistic Inferiority”

Over the course of his career, one curious writer Symonds referenced frequently was Giovanni Boccaccio, a fourteenth-century Italian poet and prose writer famous for works such as The Decameron. Not only is Boccaccio discussed among other famous Italian authors, Dante and Petrarch, in the “Italian Literature” volume of his Renaissance in Italy series, but Symonds … Continue reading Symonds and Boccaccio’s “Artistic Inferiority”

British Ballads and Symonds’s Spiritual Terrors of Childhood

In his childhood, John Addington Symonds constantly suffered from “spiritual terrors” (Memoirs, 71). He identified several works that took hold of his imagination, including “a book of old ballads in two volumes” (ibid.). A copy of one likely candidate, The Book of British Ballads (edited by S. C. Hall and published between 1842 and 1844), … Continue reading British Ballads and Symonds’s Spiritual Terrors of Childhood

The Case of the Missing Marginalia

Clifton Hill House loomed large over the life of John Addington Symonds. This structure, with its bright neoclassical facade and its dark Victorian interior could stand in for Symonds himself. The scholar's luminous career also hid a brooding and tortured inner life. Clifton Hill House's paneled living rooms full of curiosities formed the backdrop for … Continue reading The Case of the Missing Marginalia

First budding of the down: Symonds’ encounter with Sir. William Hamilton’s collection of antiquities

Imagine dwelling in your father’s library for the whole day, devouring Greek literature. When your eyes need a break, you look out from the windows of Clifton Hill House. The city’s towers, the River Avon, and the sea-going ships are gleaming. Or, you feast your eyes with engravings, photographs, copies of Italian pictures and illustrated … Continue reading First budding of the down: Symonds’ encounter with Sir. William Hamilton’s collection of antiquities