Vernon Lee (Violet Paget)

John Addington Symonds

John Addington Symonds


 1840~1893. An English poet, critic and a professor of Oxford University. He married but at the same time was a homosexual and support homosexuality. He is famous for such works as The Renaissance: An Essay(1863) and Renaissance in Italy(1875~86) and exerted great influence on Vernon Lee's study on Renaissance. Symonds highly valued Eugene's poems and was a friend of Mary Robinson.
 Lee and Symonds had common interest in Italian culture and exchanged letters between them. Stefano Evangelista writes on Symonds' attitude toward Lee: "Symonds shows himself anxious to establish a clear master-pupil relationship with Lee from his very first extant letter (23 May 1880), where he speaks to her as 'an older craftsman' to 'a younger craftsman' and adopts the critical and patronizing tone that he would never relinquish."(Catherine Maxwell ed. Vernon Lee: Decadence, Ethics, Aesthetics, P.98.)  Symonds praised Lee's first book Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy, but at the same time criticized the verbosity of her style. In a letter, he wrote: "I think you (Lee) have a real literary gift. ....On the point of beauty, you must abandon superfluous adjectives, repetitions, and incoherent strings of clauses with a dash to save all at the close.....your modulations are often violent."
 Lee discusses dramas in the Elizabethan age in Euphorion, which Symonds also discussed, so he seemed irritated because his study was imitated by Lee. On Lee's Belcaro, he wrote: "You (Lee) know my opinion is that you are over-confident in your own intuition & overhasty in expression." Colby supposes that Symonds' severe criticism against Lee was "painful" to her.    
 Evangelista asserts: "Criticizing Lee's alleged literary shortcomings in terms that imply the usurpation of a masculine persona, he (Symonds) accuses her of being 'cocksure' and 'to have posed as an oracle." (Catherine Maxwell ed. Vernon Lee, P.98.) 
 Vineta Colby asserts that there is a great difference between the ideas on beauty of Lee and Symonds. For Symonds, Lee, like Pater, is an advocate of 'beauty for beauty.' Symonds writes: "Art is not Art's end; & Beauty is not its end; Art is the means, & Beauty is the mode chosen for utterance of the Geist." He advised Lee to follow "clarity,beauty, good modulation.'
 After Euphorion was published, the friendship between Lee and Symonds ended.
 In 'A Wedding Chest' in Hauntings, 'Julia of Claudius' is mentioned. In 1485, a body of a girl in a stone coffin found under Via Appia is very beautiful and becomes an object of worship of people. Symonds introduces this episode in Renaissance in Italy and Pater and Wilde also mention it in their works. Vernon Lee may have learned it from Symonds' book. This episode invited necrophilia and images of Julia appeared many times in the fin de siècle arts.
 In 'Winthrop's Adventure' in For Maurice, a ghost of castrato appears and it is modelled from Farinelli. Lee writes on the ghost in this short story: "he was a "Culture-Ghost"...the word culture signifying in the earliest 'eighties anything vaguely connected with Italy, art and, let us put it, the works of the late J.A. Symonds."
 Vernon Lee's "genius loci" works, that is, her travelogues, are written under the influence of Symonds works such as Sketches in Italy and Greece (1874), Sketches and Studies in Italy(1879), and Italian Byways (1883).
なお、手紙の中でもリーはしばしばシモンズに言及している。例えば、1881年のNencioni宛ての手紙の中で、テーマが似ているためシモンズとペイターはしばしば比較されるが、両者はまったく違うとしている。(Complete Letters, VolumeⅠ, P.354.)
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