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     The Maharajahs of Kolhapur Photo Kirsten Hills


Youtube recording at CBXam.mp4.

15 April, Saturday, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, via Orsanmichele 4, Florence
European time (British time, one hour earlier, India time 3½ hours later):
8,45 Registration
9,00-9,15 JBH, Introduction in Italian, but circulated in English
9,15-10,15 Victorian Florence, Victorian India
Z Sriram Rajasekaran, Rogers, Ruskin, Tolstoy, Proust, Gandhi
Z Sir Nicholas Mander, Ruskin and Mountains
Z Nicholas Havely, Joseph Garrow
10,30-12,00 Queen Victoria
Domenico Savini, Queen Victoria and India, in Italian
Gabriella Del Lungo, Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria
Lunch, 12,00-2,30 at the Indian Prince's Monument in the Cascine

Youtube recording at CBXpm.mp4

3,45-4,45 Cityness
Francesca Ditifeci, Cityness
Z Arjun Shivaji Jain, Mornings in Delhi
5,00-6,30 Restoration
Amina Anelli, The Tomb of the Indian Prince, in Italian
Z Dr Rosie Llewellyn Jones, The Indian Memorial, Florence
Z Dr Peter Burman, Historic Burial Grounds
Dinner at the Crown of India, via Faenza, 102-104

Youtube recording at CBX3.mp4
23 April, Sunday, Red House, Delhi.
European time (British time, one hour earlier. India time, 3½ hours later):
Z 11,30-12,00 Introductions by Arjun Shivaji Jain and Julia Bolton Holloway
Z 12,00-12,30 The Lion in Florence and India -Marialaura Pancini
Z 12,45-13,15 Rabindranath Tagore’s Masculinization of the Motherland  -Pritha Chakraborty
Z 13,15-13,45 Ruskin and his Tuscan Sybil, Francesca Alexander - Emma Sdegno
Z 14,00-13,30 The Pre-Raphaelites and Florence - Nic Peeters
Z 14,20-15,00 Restoration by India’s Diaspora, the Roma - Daniel- Claudiu Dumitrescu



15 April, Florence, Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, via Orsanmichele, 4


Florence and India - Julia Bolton Holloway, Companion of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin

We dedicate this conference not only to Giorgio La Pira and Fioretta Mazzei, as in the past, with our previous nine City and Book conferences, but also to the memories of Maurizio Bossi of the Gabinetto Vieusseux and the Accademia delle Arte del Disegno, the Marchese Gabriel Venturi Ginori Lisci y Borbon1 and the Marchese Vieri Torrigiani Malaspina. May their names be a Blessing to us and to these Proceedings. We are most grateful to the Comune of Florence who restored the Indian Prince’s tomb, and to the oldest Accademia, the Accademia de Belle Arti del Disegno, and her President, Cristina Acidini, for housing this conference, to the Museo Stibbert for showing us its imperial loot collected together here in Florence, to the Trollope Society and to John Ruskin’s Guild of St George where I met fellow Companion – via Zoom – Arjun Shivaji Jain of Delhi and his Red House, modelled on the principles of John Ruskin, William Morris, Mahatma Gandhi and Lev Tolstoy, who is our co-organizer. Instead of forcing India to pay tribute to us we here pay tribute to India and her ancient civilization, while apologizing for British upstart imperialism that did so much harm to India, to Ireland and to the Americas with its practices of English landlords rackrenting Irish tenants, the enslavement of Africans in the New World, and the bloodshed and famine of the Indian sub-continent.

My father had spent the Thirties in India, was Gandhi’s biographer and friend and covered the *Salt March to Dandi for the Times of India, of which he was an editor. *Besides The Tragedy of Gandhi which he wrote when Gandhi was in prison, he also wrote Peasant and Prince, and chose for my godmother a David from Mumbai, Florence Shepherd. As a small child I was jokingly bethrothed to a Rajah staying with us in Sussex and I treasured the hand carved ball and cup he gave us. India’s Independence was declared when I was eight and I was glued to the radio listening to *Nehru and Mountbatten, and would rush in tears to my parents whenever I read in newspapers about Gandhi’s fasts. But I never visited India. To me it was both this exotic fairy tale place, all Edward Said’s Orientalism, but also the tragedy of its terrible partitioning between Hindu and Muslim. *The nuns of my Anglican convent school taught in Naini Tal’s Anglican All Saints College for Girls, my Mother Foundress sending them to India by way of Florence, where they bought large albums of Alinari and Brogi photographs in order to teach Florentine art, albums I now have, and many of our schoolgirls were born in India speaking her languages. Dame Joanna Lumley also went to my school, who always fiercely defends the Gurkhas who were always loyal to the British who then were willing to abandon them to statelessness. As a teenager I read Santha Rama Rau’s Home to India about her life as a teenager following an English education, returning to her homeland and finding the glamour of India’s Independence of her parents’ khadi cloth wearing now tarnished, but meeting with Rabindranath Tagore on his ashram, in Kashmir listening to the cloth producers’ songs, and finding schoolchildren far more vivacious in their writing in Bengali than in stilted imperial English. Her title inverts E.M. Forster’s Home to India, he also the author of A Room with a View, about Florence. Then I met on Zoom a fellow Companion of John Ruskin’s Guild of St George, Arjun Shivaji Jain, whose name, Shivaji, celebrates our Indian prince’s seventeenth-century ancestor who had successfully resisted both the Muslim Mughals and the Christian English,

First in this conference we are celebrating the *restoration of Rajarama Chhatrapati, the Maharajah of Kolhapoor’s Victorian tomb at the confluence of the Arno and Mugnone rivers in Florence’s Cascine, Shelley had written about the Cascine in his ‘Ode to the West Wind’. The Maharajah was the first reigning Hindu prince to visit England and Europe, after essentially being raised under house arrest and very tight control by the British. We shall visit the monument leaving here at noon, for lunch, then return to continue the conference at 2.30 p.m. *Yesterday we visited the Stibbert Museum, filled with imperial loot, his family’s wealth gained in India, and also *the Swiss-owned, so-called English Cemetery with its many links to India.

Reading the young prince’s Diary I feel enormous sadness. He is so compliant to his military British handlers that I sense he succumbs to his mortal illness as his only freedom from them, 30 November 1870. *The East India Company, founded in 1600, rigorously controlled the Rajahs, using the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’, forbidding princes to adopt or proclaim heirs, in order to seize Indian princedoms for itself. Their control of India by means of private armies, was transferred to the British government in 1858, *following the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the Company dissolved in 1874. *The 1876-78 Famine under Viceroy Robert Bulwer-Lytton, *the 1919 Amritsar Massacre, *the 1947 Partition, are immense imperial/colonial tragedies, the British Raj’s final shameful act being to adopt Machiavelli’s concept from the Romans of ‘divide and rule’, in this case ‘divide and abandon’, separating Hindus and Muslims into separate countries, Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan and Bangladesh, at the Partition, breaking her apart, against Gandhi’s wisdom, resulting in 14 million persons displaced as refugees from their own countries and several million dead in  massacres and from the hardships of travel. Italy’s Risorgimento united her; India’s Independence divided her.

The English Cemetery,* the Museo Stibbert* and the Prince’s Tomb* mirror reflect that Victorian history of India, her military, medical and civil ‘service’ there, then finding retirement here in a warmer climate than England’s. I use ‘service’ sarcastically, much in the way Prince Harry has come to perceive his own military service, that it is more about being imperialistically murderous and self-serving than it was of partnering equally with India or Iraq. For the purposes of this conference we speak of undivided India, before its tragic Partition. This is the study of a conquered sub-Continent of a profoundly ancient civilization that parented our Indo-European languages, numeracy and culture.*

In our English Cemetery in Florence we find at least 40 military, medical and legal professionals profiteering from India, sometimes with their wives and children present, next retiring to Florence. I shall here discuss some of them, having yesterday given a guided tour of all of them following the visit to the Museo Stibbert. The first sector A in the Cemetery has the tombs of *A14, Christopher Webb Smith, +1871, of the Bengal Civil Service, and his wife, 1862, who were largely responsible for the building of the Gothic Holy Trinity Church in via la Marmora, decorated by the Pre-Raphaelite, John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, of A26 Mary Phelps, 1865, who grew up in Druminnor Castle in Scotland and whose husband served in the Napoleonic wars and in India. As well we have the tomb of *A29, Walter Savage Landor, 1864, while his Swiss wife, who hated him, is portrayed in a lifesize statue her back turned on him on their son’s tomb in Sector F, F128 Arnold Savage Landor, 1871. For Walter had been in love with Rose Aylmer, an Earl’s daughter, who had gone out to India and died there of cholera after two years, her tomb in the Park Street Cemetery in Kolkata with his poem to her added to it in 1910,* BACSA, the British Association of Cemeteries in South Asia, tells me.

Park St Cemetery, Calcutta

Ah, what avails the sceptred race!
Ah, what thy form divine!
What every virtue, every grace!
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.

Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
May weep, but never see,
A night of memories and sighs
I consecrate to thee.

It used to be said that Englishmen died in India after two monsoons. Charles Dickens said he based the character of  Lawrence Boythorn in Bleak House on Walter Savage Landor. Buried now in the same Kolkata cemetery is also Charles Dickens’ son, Walter Savage Landor’s godson, whom his father named *Walter Savage Landor Dickens, then he shipped him off to India at 16 in 1857 to serve in the Indian Army, who died there in debt in 1864, never  returning home. Another Dickens’ child Francis Jeffrey also went out to India in 1863 to serve in the Bengal Lancers, then to Canada. A37 SACRED TO THE MEMORY/ OF/ JOHN BENNETT HEARSEY/ CAPTAIN IN H.M.I. ARMY/ DIED AT HIS VILLA PIAN D[EI GIU]LLAR[I]/ NEAR FLORENCE/ 19 APRIL 1873/ His family were deeply involved with the East India Company,2 frequently intermarried with Indian royalty, and he may have been present at the Indian Mutiny in Meerut. It was his relative, *General John Hearsey, who initiated that 1857 Indian Mutiny, punishing the revolt over the use of Enfield rifle bullets daubed with pig and cow fat, abhorrent to Muslim and Hindu alike, which would end the East India Company, the British government then taking over India and Benjamin Disraeli proclaiming Queen Victoria its Empress. *A49 Jane Gordon, 1876, whose relatives likewise were part of the East India Company, as officers serving in its army,2 the same being true of the husband of A90 Sarah Elisabeth Gough. 1841, the second Viscount Gough, served in Madras, and is related by marriage to the noble Florentine Capponi.3 Her tomb* was the first one restored by our Roma Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu (whose ancestors had brought their skills from India to Europe a thousand years ago). The Bankes family were Anglo-Indians from Calcutta, their tombs being in both Sector A and F, A82 Henry James Scott Bankes, 1869, and his father, A94 Henry Brookes Bankes, 1866, husband to F124 Amelia Watson Bankes, 1871, who was the daughter of *Vice-Admiral Charles Watson, who is buried in St John’s Cemetery in Kolkata, and the daughter, F125 Esther Susan Amelia Bankes, 1871. Likewise the brother of A98 Elisa Maria Stisted Wood, 1855, Sir William Henry Stisted, served in India.4 While the former but now exhumed tombs of the father, Thomas, 1847, and sister, Ermina, 1859, of Colonel Thomas Stibbert, were in our cemetery’s largest lot at A107.

In the next sector, B, are buried B16 Sir Grenville Temple, 1829, whose relative *Richard Temple-Grenville was in Madras, and beside him the child B17 Isabella Temple Bayley, 1853, whose father served in the Bengal Cavalry. (My father did his military service in the Bombay Light Horse, owning the polo pony, ‘Blue Nose’, which had won the largest cup in India). B24 is Mary Kyd de Dornberg, 1872, whose father was Lt General Alexander Kyd of the Bengal Engineers and was related to Lt General Robert Kyd who founded the Botanical Gardens in Kolkata and introduced tea plants from China to India.  Wikipedia: 'Robert Kyd made a request in his will that he be buried without any religious ceremony in the botanical garden that he founded (Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden), but was instead interred in South Park Street Cemetery. He also left behind specific payments to be made to his native servants "Rajemahl Missah ... in retribution for the unsuitable education given to him, entailing separation from his native soil and kindred. To the other native known by the name of George, in reparation of the injury done him by his former master, in alienating him from his tribe (understood Rajput), converting him to Christianity, and secluding him from all future connection with his family, the monthly sum of six rupees during his life; to both on condition of their continuing to serve Major Alexander Kyd during his residence in India. . ." The brother of B31 Joseph Watson,1873, who is dying of tuberculosis finds a doctor who has just come from India in Florence to attend him. *B85 Theodosia Garrow Trollope, 1865, and *B42 Isa Blagden, 1873, were fictionalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Marble Faun in their composite, Miriam, who wonders ‘is she East Indian, is she Jewish, is she something else?’ Florence was a more welcoming place for mixed race persons than was snobby England. Isa, friend to Henry James, friend to the Brownings, friend to many, earned her keep by writing novels and boarding guests at Bellosguardo. She and the poet Robert Lytton fell in love, she saving his life at Bagni di Lucca, the Brownings hoping they would marry. Robert with the pen name ‘Owen Meredith’ wrote a poem, titled Lucile, about her and she wrote a novel, Agnes Tremorne, about him. He married another and was appointed by Queen Victoria and her Jewish Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, as Viceroy of India and presided over a the devastating 1876-78 famine in India, worse even than that in Ireland. Someone should write this Victorian love story, including its terrible context. B54 Agnes Janet Cameron, 1874, travelled to India with her husband. B82 Sir Thomas Sevestre, 1842, and Raffles visited Napoleon on St Helena, was an old Indian Army surgeon called on in the Baths of Lucca to attend a dying duelist. B98 is Major Francis Charles Gregorie, 1858, whose father served in the East India Company army and who himself fought at Waterloo and is one of the Cemetery’s Swedenborgian spiritualists. B100 Helen Colquhoun Reade, 1852, her husband born in India in 1806. *B108 Joseph Garrow, 1857, the son of an East India Company civil servant married to an Indian princess. Orphaned, he was raised by his father’s sister, became a J.P. in Devon, and was the first translator of Dante’s Vita nova into English. The Times Literary Supplement 17/5/1920, remarked 'but it is a curious footnote to the literary annals of Anglo-India which proves that the son of an Indian mother lived to translate Dante and to move in a circle where the Brownings and Landor were the greater lights'. B117 John Fombelle, 1849, retired to Florence with his wife from the East India Company’s Civil Service in Bengal. B129 Joseph Anthony Pouget, 1833, was a physician with the East India Company in Bombay. B131 Honorable Frances Tolley’s husband was a Lt Colonel in the 1st West India Regiment.

Sector D has the great granddaughter of Clive of India, D20 Charlotte Mary Florentia Windsor Clive, 1840. D25 Harcourt Popham, 1840, son of Sir Home Riggs Popham who invented Trafalgar’s flag code, married in Bengal, then died in Florence at 28. *D72 Sir James Annesley, 1846,‘late President of the Medical Establishment, Honorable East India Company, Medical Board of Madras’, wrote an enormous book on The Diseases of India and of Warm Climates Generally, 1841. The Irish lawyer, Henry Johnson, son-in-law of D111 James Dennis, 1855, and husband of Ann Dennis Johnson, 1863, buries the father here in Florence, noting on the obelisk that his wife instead died and is buried in Meerut, where her tomb, BACSA says, is still in the Cantonment Cemetery.

Sector E, E52, Captain James Bennett, 1865, along with his wife, 1874, saw service in South Africa and India. E58 Sir William Henry Sewell, 1862, son of King William IV, served in India (Commander in Chief of the Madras Army) and at Waterloo, E57, his wife, Georgina Sewell, 1872, and, E59, servant, James Bansfield, 1862. 350 Julia Woodburn Strachey, 1846, who now lacks a tomb but was in this sector, married her husband in Kolkata, and is related to Lytton Strachey who was named after Robert Lytton, first Viceroy of India.

Sector F has the tomb of F3 Elizabeth Daubeney, 1844, whose son, Sir Henry Charles Barnston Daubeney, Wikipedia notes that ‘Educated at Sandhurst, he entered the army as ensign of the 55th foot (later 2nd battalion Border regiment) in 1829. He ‘served in that corps for thirty years until he attained the rank of colonel. In the Coorg campaign, in South India (1832-4), he served with his regiment with the northern column under Colonel Waugh; he was present at the assault and capture of the stockade of Kissenhully, and at the attack on that of Soamwarpettah. There he was in charge of one of the two guns attached to the column, and by his perseverance saved it from capture during the retreat. The British losses amounted to three officers and forty-five men killed and 118 men wounded, but the Rajah of Coorg, who was opposing the British advance, was defeated and deposed on 5 April 1834.’ Daubeney also served in China and the Crimea. From this narration we glimpse the brutality of the imperial warfare that exploited India, China and Russia’s riches. F5 James Walters Kelson’s wife was born in India in 1811. F19 Annie Dallas, 1865, her father in the Indian Army, her mother Australian. The daughter of F93 Constance Cecilia de Bourbel, 1838, was deeply involved with the Theosophist Movement in India and the education of Indian women. As was also our Maharajah Rajaram Chhatrapati of Kolhapur. F118 Fanny Crewe, 1846, is the widow of Colonel Richard Crewe of the Madras Army of the East India Company.

Thus we see 42 military, medical and legal professionals profiteering from India, sometimes with their wives and children, next retiring to Florence and buried here.


1 Il Marchese Gabriel Venturi Ginori Lisci riuniva in sé il retaggio della Discendenza dalle Famiglie dei suoi Genitori, che hanno scritto la Storia d’Italia, d’Europa e non solo. Dal lato paterno discendeva dalla Famiglia Ginori, che sin dal Medioevo aveva legato il proprio nome alla città di Firenze, e dall’antichissima stirpe reale armena dei Bagratuni: infatti la sua Nonna paterna era la Principessa Indji d’Abro Pagratide, nipote di Nubar Pasha che fu il primo Primo Ministro dell’Egitto; mentre da parte di sua Madre, Doña Leticia Principessa de Borbón, si risaliva alle Case Reali di Spagna e Portogallo. Due aspetti, quindi, legati in uno stesso tempo sia alla realtà fiorentina sia all’ampio respiro del Mondo. Tutto questo però difficilmente traspariva, filtrato dalla sua Semplicità d’Animo che gli permetteva di apprezzare, capire ed essere capito, ma pure amato da tutte le persone con le quali entrava in contatto e che restavano colpite dal suo sguardo sempre sereno, attento e sorridente. La sua Signorilità e Generosità d’Animo lo portavano a comprendere chi avesse bisogno di aiuto e ad agire concretamente, ma sempre in silenzio e con grande discrezione. Ora riposa al Cimitero degli Inglesi, isola di Pace e di Bellezza, circondato dalla Natura e dall’Arte che ha sempre amato.
2 'Several English families have Eastern or African blood in their veins such as the Hearseys and Gardners. Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Wilson Hearsey (1752-95), Commandant of the Fort at Allahabad had a legitimate son, Lieutenant-General Sir John Bennet Hearsey, KCB (1793-1865) and an illegitimate family by an Indian mother. One member, Hyder Young Hearsay (b. 1782) married a Kanhum or princess Zuhur-al-Nissa, daughter of a deposed prince of Cambay. Her sister married Colonel William Linneaus Gardner, nephew of the first Lord Gardner and their son James Gardner married Nawab Mulka Mumanu Begum, one of the 52 children of Mirzo Suliman Sheko, brother of the Mogul emperor Akbar II (1806-37). Hyder Young Hearsey had several children of whom Harriet married her step-uncle Sir John Bennet Hearsey and left descendants, as did William Moorcroft Hearsay in India'. He is not Sir John Bennet Hearsey but with the same name, and from the same family and context. He may have been present at the Indian Mutiny of 1857. He has died at his Villa Pian dei Giullari.
3 Her father-in-law, William Conway Gordon, natural son of Lord William Gordon, entered the Bengal service in 1815, belonging to the 53rd Native Infantry. His portrait was painted when he was A.D.C. to Sir Peregrine Maitland in Madras. He married Louisa, daughter of Brigadier-General J. Vanrenen, Honourable East India Company's Service, born in 1833, he returned to England in 1842, and died in 1882. His first son, William George Conway Gordon, Times, 1851, promoted from ensign in the 91st to lieutenant, in 1854 becoming captain, in the Registrar General's index married Jane at Berwick in 1857, and died the following year. His brothers were Francis Ingram Conway-Gordon, Lewis Conway-Gordon and Charles Van Renen Conway-Gordon.
4NDBD and Wikipedia have entries for her father-in-law, the first Viscount, Hugh Gough, participant under Wellington in the Peninsula battles, then Madras and China, and her husband, who served, following her death, under his father in India and China: 'He married firstly Sarah-Elizabeth Palliser on 17 October 1840, the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Wray Palliser and Mary Challoner of Derrylusken and Coagh, Co Wexford, Ireland). He married secondly on 3 June 1846, Jane Arbuthnot (b 22 October 1816 in Edinburgh d 3/2/1892), the daughter of George Arbuthnot, 1st of Elderslie (1772-1843) and Elizabeth (Eliza) Fraser (1792-1834), who had 3 children'.  The Gough, Arbuthnot, Popham (Sector D, D25/ HARCOURT POPHAM, D40/ SIR RICHARD KEITH ARBUTHNOT), Pakenham (Sector E, E118/ ELIZABETH ISABELLA PAKENHAM/ CAROLINE EMILY (THOMPSON/POPHAM) PAKENHAM ) families are interconnected. The fifth Viscount Gough arranged for the restoration of his relative/almost ancestress' tomb. The restoration of the tomb involved the apprenticeship of Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu under Alberto Casciani, following which he was able to restore and clean many other of the Cemetery's tombs. We are most grateful to the Viscount Gough. See http://www.florin.ms/gough.ppt
5 Elizabeth Maria Stisted Wood and her five-year-old daughter, Luisa Clotilda, Clotilda being the name of the 'Queen of Lucca'. See the tomb of A88/ CATHERINE SWINNY, mother of Clotilda Stisted. Colonel Henry Stisted's tomb is at Bagni di Lucca. General Sir Henry William Stisted, his nephew and Mrs Wood's brother, served in India and Canada; in 1845, at Florence, he married Maria Katherine Eliza Burton (1823–1894), sister of explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton. Their daughter, Georgiana Martha Stisted (1846–1903), published The True Life of Captain Sir Richard Burton. Are A110/ BIANCA (BURTON) BANCHINI, A27/ WALTER BURTON, buried nearby, also from the explorer's family? This tomb is erected by her husband and their six children who not only are related to the Stisteds of Bagni di Lucca but also have made good marriages into Italian society. There are references to the Stisteds in Thomas Adolphus Trollope's What I Remember and Giuliana Artom Treves' The Golden Ring.

Francesca Alexander. http://www.umilta.net/zita.html
Sir James Annesley. The Diseases of India and Warm Climates Generally, London: Longman, 1841.
Giuliana Artom Treves. The Golden Ring: The Anglo-Florentines, 1847-1862. Trans. Sylvia Sprigge. London: Longmans, Green. 1956.
John Robert Glorney Bolton. Peasant and Prince: Modern India on the eve of the New Reforms. London: Peter Davies, 1938.
____________.  The Tragedy of Gandi. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1934.
____________. Two Lives Converge: The Dual Autobiography of Sybil and Glorney Bolton. London: Blackie, 1938.
Diary of the Late Rajah of Kohlapoor, During his Visit to Europe in 1870. Ed. Capt. Edward W. West, of the Bombay Staff Corps, and Assistant to the Political Agent, Kohlapoor and Southern Maratha Country. London: Smith, Elder, 1872.
E.M Forster. A Room with a View. London: Edward Arnold, 1908.
____________. Passage to India. London: Edward Arnold, 1924.
Talking of Gandhiji. Ed. Francis Watson, Maurice Brown. Contributors, Horace Alexander, Ida Barton, J.R. Glorney Bolton, Albert Docker, Indira Gandhi, Lord Halifax, Muriel Lester, Mira Behn, Lord Mountbatten, Gilbert Murray, Jawaharlal Nehru, Reginald Reynolds, Clare Sheridan, etc. Bombay: Orient Longmans, 1957.
Jawaharlal Nehru. Glimpses of World History, Being Further Letters to his Daughter, written in prison. 1934/New York: John Day, 1960. https://archive.org/details/glimpses-of-world-history-being-further-letters-to-his-daughter-written-in-priso/page/n1/mode/2up
Santha Rama Rau. Home to India. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1945.
Samuel Rogers. Italy. London: John Murray, 1823. https://archive.org/details/rogersitalypoem00roge/page/n5/mode/2up
Salman Rushdie. The Enchantress of Florence. London: Jonathan Cape, 2008.
Edward Said. Orientalism. New York: Random House, 1979.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. In Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. New York: Routledge, 1988.
The Spivak Reader: Selected Works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Ed. Donna Landry and Gerald Maclean. New York: Routledge, 1996.
Flora Annie Steele. The Hosts of the Lord. London: Thomas Nelson, 1900. https://archive.org/details/hostsoflord00steeuoft/page/n5/mode/2up
Lytton Strachey. Eminent Victorians. Garden City: Garden City Publishing, 1918. https://archive.org/details/cu31924014643609
____________. Queen Victoria. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1921. https://archive.org/details/queenvictoria002839mbp
Thomas Adolphus Trollope. What I Remember. London: Richard Bentley, 1887. 2 vols. https://archive.org/details/whatiremember01trol/page/n9/mode/2up
Diana and Tony Webb. The Anglo-Florentines: The British in Tuscany, 1814-1860. London: Bloomsbury, 2020.

Julia Bolton Holloway. 'Feminist Gandhi' https://www.umilta.net/gandhi.html
Manohar Malgonkar. ‘Unquiet Graves’, https://www.florin.ms/unquietgraves.html

Emerald girdle of Maharaja Sher Singh, c 1840. Photograph: Royal Collection Trust / His Majesty King Charles III 2023
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcKS9JPSfCg On the Partition of India
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv7kd7ylfNc Before the Mutiny

Victorian Florence, Victorian India

The Magic Spell of a Book - Sriram Rajasekaran

In Indian system of thought it is difficult to ascertain a canon- like the Bible, which Ruskin read reverentially; there are the Vedas; six major schools of philosophy, oftentimes these contradict one another, making it all the more difficult to put them under the single tab as a canon; nevertheless, this is the beauty of Indian system of thought- it is a banyan with multiple branches and roots, also, a single tree; a multitude of clouds, bringing light to one, shade to one, and rain to another, all under the same sky. If a comparable book must be found, then it could be the Gita. Even so, the Gita is not given for all to read; even if someone were to read it at some point in their life, it may not be at the same time that its teachings really enter into her/ his heart. For this, that is, the Gita to enter into you, to occur to you, is a preordained moment in your life, which is called the ‘Gita muhurta’- the magical moment when it makes itself known. It is in such moments that books work their magic spell, in a liminal space and time, later you emerge transformed. Today I will be talking about how a book wrought such a spell in the lives of Ruskin, Gandhi, Proust, and my own. Join me as we travel through time and space.

Rogers and Ruskin
In 1832, John Ruskin is gifted a book for his birthday. Ruskin later wrote that the book decided “the entire direction of my life’s energies.” The book is an illustrated edition of Rogers’ poems on Italy, the illustrations done by Turner, including the one accompanying Rogers’ poem on Florence, which begins thus:
Of all the fairest Cities of the Earth
None is so fair as Florence. ‘Tis is a gem
Of purest ray; and what a light broke forth,
When it emerged from the darkness!
Ruskin wrote, “This book was the first means I had of looking carefully at Turner’s work”; it was responsible for his “Turner insanities,” and that the book “determined the main tenor of my life.”

Ruskin and Gandhi
Ruskin was 13 when he was introduced to his hero, Turner, who would decide the course of the rest of his life. It was at around the same age when I met my hero in Gandhi. I was around thirteen- or fourteen-years old, ploughing through the autobiography of Gandhi, a book I took to be my Bible, reading it word by word as if my life depended on it- much of my life, indeed has taken its course from that source, as you shall see.
In 1904, Mohandas Gandhi is seated on a train in South Africa. A friend hands him a book to read on the journey. Gandhi later wrote “I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book.” The book was ‘Unto This Last’ by Ruskin. Gandhi called him “great Ruskin.” “It (the book) gripped me, brought about an instantaneous and practical transformation in my life.” Gandhi named Srimad Rajchandra, Tolstoy, and Ruskin as the three moderns who left a deep impression on his life and “captivated” him.
Gandhi introduced Ruskin to me through his works on political economy and Unto This Last. At that time of my life, I was more inclined toward Art and Spirituality, as I am still, and this side of Ruskin did not appeal to me and therefore, I paid no attention to him; I made the mistake of assuming the greatness of the man based on his utility. It was not until a decade later that the muhurta- the magical moment of discovering Ruskin came upon me from a completely different direction, but nonetheless linked by the webs of life- for, like a seed that develops into a tree which brings forth numerous seeds in turn, like a thought that seamlessly integrates itself into another thought just like a train switches tracks, a book points to and leads to another book.

Tolstoy and Gandhi
At that time, however, I was directed toward Tolstoy through the correspondence between Gandhi and Tolstoy on matters of religion and spirituality. I was enamoured not much with the ideas of Tolstoy as with the firmness and the definite way in which he gives us those ideas. I saw in him a confident man who knew his place in the world, much unlike my teenage self, and hence he became my foundation on which I could stand and build my world. I proceeded to read his short stories, Childhood, Boyhood and Youth, and then his masterpiece, perhaps the greatest piece of literature ever written, War and Peace. The door to Literature, with a capital L, opened in front of me, and I walked through it.
The capacity of Tolstoy to write about a vast number of characters amazes me, especially the style of minimizing and maximizing in his narrative. As much as he writes about life he writes of death, too. The deaths of Andrei and Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky are written out in such length and with such empathy. Only a great writer can write about life and death in the same elaborate way.
There are no bumps or sudden turns in the drive with Tolstoy. He reins the horses in a steady and sure way. It is evident from his first work itself, the autobiographical reflection- Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, dealing with memory- the theme that Proust and Ruskin deal with in depth.
It is interesting that just as I discovered the correspondence between Tolstoy and Gandhi after reading War and Peace, I came across the correspondence between Romain Rolland and Gandhi after I read Jean-Christophe. I wonder how this man had the time to read so much while also being actively involved in the nation’s issues. Not to mention he was also a prolific writer himself- his published works go into nearly 100 volumes. It is like what Einstein said of him, “Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.”
In my twilight years, instead of second childishness and mere oblivion, if I could emulate the grit, resolve, and determination of these old men- Tolstoy and Gandhi - then I would consider myself lucky.

Ruskin and Proust
After having read War and Peace, all other books seemed to me to be puny and valueless; I was standing high atop a mountain peak with Tolstoy by my side, like a general surveying his troops from a hilltop, describing every event and by way of which giving me life lessons. That was when I started to read all kinds of absurd books to fill in the gap that people who have read War and Peace feel within themselves after finishing the book.
At this time, another muhurta happened: I discovered Proust, and realised I am Proust, if you could understand that. I read everything that Proust wrote: like a bird collecting sticks and rubble to build its nest, I collected everything that Proust wrote, and added it to my library- in fact, I possess multiple editions of his magnum opus In Search of Lost Time, a first edition of Jean Santeuil, etc. I was devoted to Proust. Reading a writer’s oeuvre in a short period is like having a conversation with the writer himself continuously day after day. He is transported from the land of the dead and starts living beside you, thinks with you, and narrates things to you as they happen, in his particular style and language. Thus, Proust was with me and I became Proust.
In 1899, Marcel Proust writes a letter to his mother, asking her to send him, urgently, Robert de La Sizeranne’s Ruskin et la religion de la beauté. Proust was staying at the time in the spa town of Evian-les-Bains on the south side of Lake Geneva. He wanted the book so that he could “see the mountains through the eyes of that great man (Ruskin).”
Later, Proust went to the Bibliotheque nationale and started looking up works by Ruskin. He shelved his novel Jean Santeuil, which remained unfinished and unpublished in his lifetime, and began working on the translation and commentary of Ruskin’s works. I would argue that Proust’s seminal work In Search of Lost Time has many elements that are directly or indirectly influenced by his reading of Ruskin.
Now, let us look into Proust’s translation of ‘Of King’s Treasuries.’ As Proust himself said in its preface I have tried to reflect in my turn on the same subject that both Ruskin and Proust wrote on- of books and the utility of reading.
As the twain ravens of Odin, Huginn and Muninn- Thought and Memory, Proust is obsessed with Time and Memory. The first few pages of the Search build this up perfectly, where the Narrator, in the liminal state between waking and sleeping, remembers all the places, houses, buildings that he has been in. Ruskin says about architecture: “We may live without her, worship without her, but we cannot remember without her.” Proust writes about various instances where a physical place evokes ethereal memories of the past, about places that hold memories. In a letter to Anatole France he writes, “I have built, deep in my heart, a chapel filled with you.” Ruskin writes in the Seven Lamps of Architecture: “Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build for ever.”
“There are no days of my childhood which I lived so fully perhaps as those I thought I had left behind without living them, those I spent with a favourite book.”
Like a wizard who keeps his wand on your temple and makes you see things, the writer puts words onto paper and makes us see and feel things that are purely magical. The best memories of my childhood are those that I spent in the library or in the comfort of my home with a book in hand. By the journey that we have had through the story and the emotions that we have felt, the book itself is a crystallization of that magical experience called reading.
“Who cannot recall, as I can, the reading they did in the holidays, which one would conceal successively in all those hours of the day peaceful and inviolable enough to be able to afford it refuge.”
If waking up late on a holiday is a thing to be wished for, those precious extra hours of sleep which act as a balm from the grinding monotony of the routine, waking up early to read a book is a pleasure in itself. Picking up the book from where you left off the previous night, the pages still there waiting for you to read them, the story and the characters that have hitherto been in a standstill continue their motions as the eye moves from one word to the other. As words become sentences, sentences become the story, you gradually dissipate from the world that you woke up in to one that is created by magic, one that occurs wholly in the reader’s mind. The sunlight slowly seeping through the windows and dancing on the pages, illuminating the golden words on the crusted paper, making its texture stand out. The birds chirping and tweeting, making up a song to accompany your journey. The slow rustling of the leaves, the chiming of a distant church bell, marking the hours that fleet by you, you hear the bell now and continue with your reading and before you realise, the bell strikes again, looking up you realise more time has passed than you could imagine and that you have missed two bells in between the two that you happened to hear through the intense reading you have been involved in.
“We feel very strongly that our own wisdom begins when that of the author leaves off.”
When the last page has been turned, when the author has concluded his story, our journey still continues. Sometimes it begins only there. Holding a book is nothing different than holding a magical mirror in front of us which has the ability to show the depths of our heart. Reading a book is to travel through those depths and find places which we thought did not exist in ourselves. The writer shows the path, we walk through it. The book makes us recollect our memories and form connections between them which wouldn’t have happened otherwise, and makes us come to conclusions that are brought about only by the book, yet arrived at by ourselves. He throws light upon the depths where the secret lies, within us. Reading a book is reading yourself. Houses in which the memories are stored get connected by bridges, bridges built not by stones, but by words. Every house a tuned harp, singing the melodies of the past. The eyes running through the words on the pages, the invisible fingers deftly playing the strings of the harp. Heavenly music.
“Reading is that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude.”
The reason why we store the book in our library is not just because we could read it again, it’s because it’s the sheet music for those melodies that we have composed within ourselves. A mere look at that book starts playing the overture in our mind. Taking it from the shelf and leafing through the pages brings out the instruments at ready. Reading it plays the symphony in its full glory.
It was through Proust that I really discovered Ruskin, not the political economy side of him, but Ruskin, the art critic and aesthete. In fact, I found instances where I believe Proust was inspired by Ruskin’s writing. To give one such example:
An indelible scene in the Search is at the very beginning of the novel, where the Narrator impatiently waits for his mother to come up and give him a goodnight kiss. At the height of his impatience, he sends a written note to his mother through the servant, Françoise. Ultimately, when Mother does come to him, and even as Father allows her to stay the night in the Narrator's bedroom to pacify him, what little Marcel feels is not joy.
"I ought to have been happy; I was not. [...] Her anger would have saddened me less than this new gentleness, unknown to my childhood experience; I felt that I had with an impious and secret finger traced a first wrinkle upon her soul and brought out a first white hair on her head. This thought redoubled my sobs."
The successful outcome of an event did not quite give him the same joy as it did in his imagining of it; he does not feel happy for obtaining something he wanted, not happy for having in possession the very thing he desired; echoes of this same theme can be found in later volumes, in his relationship with Albertine.
Now compare this with what Ruskin writes in Modern Painters.
"That strange and sometimes fatal charm, which there is in all things as long as we wait for them, and the moment we have lost them; but which fades while we possess them; - that sweet bloom of all that is far away, which perishes under our touch."
The next few lines, in my opinion, sum up the most important theme in the whole of Search, that of time lost and time regained- not through the 'physical going-back', as it were, but going back in time through the imagination.
"Yet the feeling of this is not a weakness; it is one of the most glorious gifts of the human mind, making the whole infinite future, and imperishable past, a richer inheritance, if faithfully inherited, than the changeful, frail, fleeting present."
The prose of Ruskin and Proust are not dissimilar: meandering sentences, traveling over a range of ideas before arriving at the full stop. Reading them is like looking at a mountain range: rising and falling through its rhythms, delighting in the peaks and sliding down slopes, before arriving at the period. It is as Coleridge said: “Wherever you find a sentence musically worded, of true rhythm and melody in the words, there is something deep and good in the meaning too.”
In one of the early chapters of Praeterita Ruskin talks about his first encounter with a girl, falling in 'love', the separation, and the burning need to sublimate the passion in an artistic way. He describes himself thus, “I had neither the resolution to win Adele, the courage to do without her, the sense to consider what was at last to come of it all, or the grace to think how disagreeable I was making myself at the time to everybody about me. There was really no more capacity nor intelligence in me than in a just fledged owlet, or just open-eyed puppy, disconsolate at the existence of the moon.” Beautiful writing, which, I believe, Proust took a leaf out of. This description might match the Narrator at the time he was love sick for Albertine. Proust writes of Albertine, “I had no longer a heart, but only a great longing for Albertine."
 Also, Proust’s love for paintings is evident throughout his writings. I will not speak much on it, but will highly recommend the book, Paintings in Proust- A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time by Eric Karpeles, a lavishly illustrated book that places the selected paragraphs from the magnum opus of Proust that deals with art alongside the paintings mentioned in them. The combined effect of the magical words of Proust about the painting and the painting itself presented in the facing page for us to feast our eyes on is breathtaking. It is a truly commendable work that will be read as long as Proust is being read.
“If in ten years you come across a line of his (Ruskin) [...] it will interest me as much as it does now,” writes Proust about Ruskin. I am reminded of a Ruskin quote here- “He is the greatest artist who has embodied, in the sum of his works, the greatest number of the greatest ideas.” Both Ruskin and Proust have given me the greatest number of the greatest ideas through their works.                                       

Beyond age, language, nationality, culture and all such differences that lie like a gulf in between there comes a point where you are connected directly with the writer, through the book.
The thoughts that have been floating formless in your mind get a shape in his sentences. The fleeting ideas and sensations that you once had and what remains now of them is but a vague remembrance get cemented in the pages for posterity. All that you have wanted to say but never found the right words to do so are succinctly put together by him. At this moment you join hands and climb the hills with the writer to see the glorious horizon, the fantastical expanse of your mind.
He leads you through the attic that is your brain and shows you things that you never knew existed. Old, long forgotten drawers are opened. Intentionally suppressed letters are dug out. The spine of each book is touched. Some textures are felt only now. In the end, the writer places his own book in the attic. And leaves you, for you to continue your walk, alone but never without company.
May a book work its spell on you!

https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fass/ruskin/empi/notes/frogers01.htm Accessed on 03.04.2023
https://www.mkgandhi.org/newannou/how-unto-this-last-inspired-Mahatma-Gandhi.html Accessed on 03.04.2023
https://victorianweb.org/authors/ruskin/proust.html  Accessed on 03.04.2023
On Reading Ruskin by Marcel Proust, published by Yale University Press in 1989, 9780300045031
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust, published by Modern Library in 2003, 9780812969641
https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/ruskin/3-7ModernPainters.pdf Accessed on 03.04.2023
Praeterita and Dilecta by John Ruskin, published by Everyman’s Library in 2005, 9781857152791

The Purgatorial Mountain: in Viollet-le-Duc, Ruskin, Dante, Yeats and India -
Sir Nicholas Mander, Companion of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin


I speak from this remote Cotswold valley in which I have lived for nearly 50 years and where I am steeped, almost without realising it, in the nineteenth-century prophesy and poetry of John Ruskin. I want here to braid together Ruskin (1819-1900) and his near contemporary, Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79), architects of spires and mountains, as stepping stones in my personal Odyssey to the poets Dante, and exactly 600 years later, Yeats, all the way to the Himalayan wall of India.

I live as caretaker of a small Cotswold manor house, set in a garden of seven tiered terraces (which we come to later), climbing from the sublunary level by a stream to a chapel on the top level, with its star-spangled vault in the baptistery of initiation a sort of Empyrean, perhaps, which has survived almost miraculously with little alteration from medieval times. It owes that survival to repairs in 1925, following 80 years’ abandonment, adhering to Ruskinian precepts, which honoured such old houses of the vernacular, so that the poet A.C. Swinburne could elevate it in a letter to William Morris in 1894 as “a paradise incomparable on earth”.

Wightwick Manor

Ruskin whose ideals inspired also the building of a group of family houses, of which Wightwick Manor, built in 1888-93, is today the most representative example, following its gift to the National Trust in 1937, as a paradigm of William Morris’s house beautiful. It is valued for its outstanding collections of literary manuscripts of the late Romantic period, of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and, in decoration, its rich overlay of textures of glass and fabric, plasterwork and murals, tiles and self-consciously medievalising timber. (It is also noted for its connections with Imperial India, when two sons of the household, exceptionally in the Edwardian era, married two daughters of the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, connected by marriage to Rabindranath Tagore.)

William Morris had advocated just such a revival of the so-called arts and crafts, and thereby the transformation of industrial society itself, but relevantly here, also the careful and scholarly repair and reverent protection of ancient buildings, with “stern watching” for the “truth” and aesthetic value of ruins and fragments; the parasitical sublime that derives from fortuity, from accidents of time; the picturesque, as Ruskin described it, say, in a painting by “Tintoret”:

“in the clefts and folds of shaggy hair, or in the chasms and rents of rocks, or in the hanging of thickets or hill sides, or in the alternations of gaiety and gloom in the variegation of the shell, the plume, or the cloud.” [8:240]

Ruskin describes this variegation, privileging of the fragment “in the golden stain of time”: whether the extract or quotation; or the fragment of stone--the little figurine at Rouen later sought by Proust; or the fleeting moods of nature—the feather, the leaf, “a bit of ivy round a thorn stem”, “the watery effects of the pale light of the moon”; or the frozen moment seized in a sketch or daguerreotype—"the sun’s drawing”, as he calls it; or even a primeval life form preserved in a fossil.

Gimson Group

The Cotswolds were one of the most fertile breeding grounds for practitioners of what became known by Philip Webb, Morris’s own architect, as a “school for practical building” in the circle of Ernest Gimson and the brothers Ernest and Sidney Barnsley at Sapperton, and of Eric Ashbee in Chipping Campden.

They derived from Ruskin their philosophy of repair, which led to the formation (1877) of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, with Ruskin’s famous declaration:

it is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture. That which I have above insisted upon as the life of the whole, that spirit which is given only by the hand and eye of the workman, can never be recalled. Another spirit may be given by another time and it is then a new building.

Notre Dame flèche

This is in stark contrast to the great nineteenth-century French architect and theorist of the Gothic revival, Eugène Emanuel Viollet-le-Duc. His interest in Gothic architecture was aroused, rather, by Prosper Merimée, romancier, inspector for the Commission des Monuments Historiques and a close friend of the family, who secured for him his first important commission in 1840, the restoration of La Madeleine at Vézelay, which had been vandalised in the Revolution.

In 1844 he and Jean-Baptiste Lassus won the competition to restore the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, then as now in a ruinous state. This is in our conscience today following the grande incendie of 15 April 2019, when we were reminded that he added a whimsical flèche or spire made of oak covered with lead, prompting again the debate over the ethics of repair versus restoration, which according to Ruskin’s critique always falsifies the historical record which buildings embody.1

Woodchester Park

Viollet’s foremost English follower and translator was Benjamin Bucknall, a native of the Cotswolds, and in 1857 replaced Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin and his own teacher, the Bristol architect Charles Francis Hansom, as the architect for Woodchester Park. This unfished masterpiece is within walking distance from where I live: built for a Catholic convert patron, William Leigh, gloriously exhibiting Viollet’s principles of rational Gothic in its approach to function, method and structural unity. The supreme example of Viollet’s aesthetic in England, honouring Ruskin’s notion of truth in architecture. All work was abandoned in 1873, and it survives as a curated ruin, suspended in, redeeming time; ‘tempus redimentes’, according to the inscription on its clock tower.

Clock towers at Woodchester and Nevers

The clock tower dominates the skyline of the building, with a steep hipped roof, an architectural mountain with its horizontal courses striated, stratified, echeloned in Yeats’s word, like the laminations of rocks, and surmounted by finials, echoing or copied as a mannerism in homage to Viollet, who employs them in his roof designs, for example, in the tower of La Porte du Croux at Nevers.

Viollet-le-Duc spent his summers from 1868 to 1876 studying Mont Blanc, resulting in his major scientific publication of 1876 entitled in Benjamin Bucknall’s English translation: Mont Blanc. A Treatise on its Geodesical and Geological Constitution; its Transformations; and the Ancient and Recent State of its Glaciers, 1877.2 Viollet-le-Duc illustrated this work with his own 112 sketches and his systematic map and chromo-lithographic view of the Massif du Mont Blanc.

Viollet’s Mont Blanc map

He describes in ponderous terms the methodical analysis of mountains as a perfectly regulated crystalline system, where primal forces operate in nature on the grandest scale, a process of ruination whereby a mamillated granitic mass is crystallised under cooling, or metamorphosed under pressure, with the decomposition of rhombohedral blocks splitting as water is filtered through the interstices of lamination and expanded into glacier seas until it reaches a “denticulated and ruined appearance”. Such a process organises the tectonics of the entire planet, as if the gigantic chaotic mass of the Mont Blanc was a deliberate construction, a sublime work of architecture that can be restored to its rational ideal; demonstrating a hidden analogy between architecture, the study of buildings, and geology.

Viollet’s analysis of crystalline structure of Mont Blanc

Viollet’s panorama of the Alpine chain

Viollet coupe of Florence Cathedral and view of the city of Florence

In 1836 Viollet-le-Duc had travelled from Mont Blanc into Italy,3  a voyage de formation which, like Goethe’s 50 years earlier, lasted more than a year; in quest, like Goethe also, of the classical. He was to measure and analyse buildings such as Santa Maria del Fiore, the Cathedral of Florence, by Arnolfo di Cambio (c. 1240 – 1300/1310), in his appraisal of the first stirrings of Renaissance architecture. This had been seen as the critical moment of transition which had sparked off what French architectural critics had recognized as a third phase of cultural development which had first manifested in Florence. Medieval structural skills were here melded with something of antique decorum, to achieve a new synthesis, crowned with a spire or fleche which was in truth the dome, which the genius Brunelleschi in 1418 had derived from classical survivals, famously the Pantheon dedicated in 135 AD in Hadrian’s Rome.

Ruskin was fourteen when he first saw the Alps and Mont Blanc on the occasion of his arrival with his parents at Schaffhausen in 1833. He recalled the sense of revelation which the mountains had upon him in his autobiography Praeterita [1. 134-6]. The passage was to mark a turning-point in the life of the young Marcel Proust (August 1899):

“Suddenly--behold--beyond! There was no thought in any of us for a moment of their being clouds. They were clear as crystal, sharp on the pure horizon sky, and already tinged with rose by the sinking sun [...] with so much of science mixed with feeling as to make the sight of the Alps not only the revelation of the beauty of the earth, but the opening of the first page of its volume,--I went down that evening from the garden-terrace of Schaffhausen with my destiny fixed in all of it that was to be sacred and useful.” [35. 115]
“The very snow cannot cling to the down-plunging sheerness of these terrific flanks that rise pre-eminently dizzying and beetling above the sea of wreathed snow that rolled its long surging waves over the summits of the lower and less precipitous mountains.” [Account of a Tour on the Continent in 1833, Chamouni, CW, 2. 382]

Ruskin Alps sketches

Ruskin was to visit Chamonix and the region of the Mont Blanc massif some nineteen times between 1833 and 1888: “my most intense happinesses have of course been among mountains”, he wrote. Though admirers of each other’s works, there is no evidence that he and Viollet-le-Duc ever met. Both came as amateurs, painters, pioneers of mountains, of the Alps in particular, meteorologists and geologists, collectors of specimens, ramblers and climbers, readers of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure’s pioneering volumes of travels in the Alps,5 which Ruskin had requested for his 15th birthday.

They travelled over the Alps into Italy within three years of one another, following a venerable line of poets and artists, including Turner, and Goethe, the geologist, collector of specimens and minerals, who had set out for Italy over the Brenner Pass on September 3, 1786, frustrated in love, disguised as an artist, with a brace of pistols thrust in his belt, as he headed first for Venice.

Ruskin and Viollet portraits

Ruskin but for a chance meeting says he might have written a “stones of Chamouni”. Today we think of him for his love and wisdom expressed in The Stones of Venice, though like Goethe he travelled as far as Sicily. He was lured on by the Turner vignettes, or “insanities”, as he called them, in Samuel Rogers’ Italy, which had “determined the main tenor of my life” in 1833 [35. 79]. And of course he too describes and sketches the stones of Florence, where he defers to Dante (1265-1310) as “the central man”, exalting the “ineffable tenderness, in which Dante is always raised as much above all other poets, as in softness the rose above all other flowers”. His correspondent and editor Charles Eliot Norton would write: “No other great English writer has shown such familiarity with the Divine Comedy as Mr. Ruskin.”

According to his account in Praeterita, Ruskin’s lectura Dantis began during his journey to Europe without his parents in 1845. Ruskin's life, whether Vita Nuova, or, with its disappointments, Morte Nuova, as he was to call it in 1867, has been described as a commentary on Dante's poetry, “a text written upon its palimpsest, but is also itself”.6 After 1845, “there is no work of Ruskin's without overt and submerged Dantean reference, from conversations on minerology for schoolgirls, to critiques of political economy”.

Dante by Domenico di Michelino with mount of purgatory

Jay Fellows illustrated the essential relation between the two figures, the circular and the labyrinthine, which provide this structuring element in Ruskin’s imaginative and aesthetic maturation.7 Dante’s dream poem is figured round circles: triads, in its threefold structure, with its topography of circles, pits and mountain:

salendo e rigirando la montagna [Purg., 23. 135]
[ascending and circling the mountain].

Its journey describes a cone of nine diminishing circles of increasing complexity in the ruinous maze of the Inferno, centred on Lucifer in the depths; seven cornices or terraces of winding stairs climbing the mount of the Purgatorio; and nine circling spheres in the highest heaven.

Ruskin has long passages,8 including “about one-fourth in length” of Modern Painters,9 describing the Dantesque landscape, dominated by an exhaustive critique of Dante’s, and the medieval mind’s, take on mountains. He discusses the “Truth of Mountains”, Mountain Gloom”, “Mountain Glory”, and also “Ideas of Relation” in mountains, “the meaning and office and sculpture of mountains”, and “the geology of the middle ages”. Italian art is only beginning to depict mountains, 160 years after Dante, in the background of Ghirlandaio’s fresco of the “Stigmata of St. Francis” (1482-5) for the chapel of Santa Trinità, for example, with a love of neatness and precision, and “some indication of a closer observance of nature” [5. 306], which Ruskin contrasts with an engraving in the Liber Veritatis of Claude, which reduces all towers and walls to “unintelligible ruin”. Ruskin doubts the truth of Dante’s descriptions of mountains:

The Transition from Ghirlandajo to Claude by Ruskin

“To Dante, mountains are inconceivable except as great broken stones or crags; all their broad contours and undulations seem to have escaped his eye.”

He finds unconvincing, too, Dante’s observation of the colours and textures of rocks, with their frangibility—or breakableness—in the Apennines; and of mountain streams, which flow dark brown, bruna-bruna, in Lethe, in truth slate-grey, quite unlike the “porter-coloured foam” of the bog-streams he observes in his native Cumberland [5. 300]. He finds Dante’s mount of Purgatory is conventional and subdued:

“The place of the soul's purification, though a mountain, is yet by Dante subdued, whenever there is any pleasantness to be found upon it, from all mountainous character into grassy recesses, or slopes to rushy shore; and, in his general conception of it, resembles much more a castle mound, surrounded by terraced walks.” (5. 295).

He allows himself a suspension of disbelief in the enchantment of Dante's dream landscapes, but Ruskin, steeped in the Longinian Sublime and the later picturesque tradition deriving from Gilpin, Prout and Turner, questions the Italian poet’s first-hand experience or enjoyment of mountains:

“The fact is that Dante, by many expressions throughout the poem, shows himself to have been a notably bad climber; and being fond of sitting in the sun, looking at his fair Baptistery, or walking in a dignified manner on flat pavement in a long robe… When he has a very steep place to go down, Virgil has to carry him altogether, and is obliged to encourage him, again and again, when they have a steep slope to go up,—the first ascent of the purgatorial mountain.” (5. 303):


He singles out Ghirlandajo’s background depiction of the road by which the Magi descend in his picture of the Adoration [of the Shepherds; 1483-5], in the Accademia of Florence as illustrative of Dante's idea of terraces on the purgatorial mountain. Ruskin’s professed delight in wild places, of rugged defiles and chasms, is not shared by the medieval mind, but rather confined by Dante to his descriptions of the torments of Hell:

“Although the Inferno is just as accurately measured and divided as the Purgatory, it is nevertheless cleft into rocky chasms which possess something of true mountain nature—nature which we moderns of the north should most of us seek with delight, but which, to the great Florentine, appeared adapted only for the punishment of lost spirits, proclaim its detestation of hardness and ruggedness; and is heard for the last time, as it bestows on the noblest defile in all the Grisons, if not in all the Alpine chain, the name of the ‘evil way’—'la Via Mala’." 

Dante Purgatorio and Divina Commedia images

The nuances and vagueness of language describing mountains and their features is lost in translation:

“[The word] ‘sasso,’ is a large stone or boulder (Purg. iv. 101. 104.), …used for any large mountainous mass, as in Purg. xxi. 106.; and the vagueness of the word "monte" itself, like that of the French ‘montagne,’ applicable either to a hill on a post-road requiring the drag to be put on,—or to the Mont Blanc, marks a peculiar carelessness in both nations,… as to the sublimity of the higher hills; so that the effect produced on an English ear by the word ‘mountain,’ signifying always a mass of a certain large size, cannot be conveyed either in French or Italian.”

Ruskin observes the contrast in the medieval conceptions of moods of weather, light and shade, commenting on Dante’s

“immitigable dislike of clouds… Dante excludes all clouds from joyous or holy settings, reserving them strictly for the punishment of sinners. Dante thus carries the medieval joy in light to its logical limit as he "retains steadily, through circle after circle, his cloudless thought, and concludes his painting of heaven, as he began it upon the purgatorial mountain, with the image of shadowless morning.” 77 (V, 312; Par. xxxi.109-18).
“And the love of mountains is so closely connected with the love of clouds, the sublimity of both depending much on their association, that having found Dante regardless of the Carrara mountains as seen from San Miniato, we may well expect to find him equally regardless of the clouds in which the sun sank behind them. Accordingly, we find that his only pleasure in the sky depends on its "white clearness."

Brantwood terraces: Ruskin sketch

“The castle mound, surrounded by terraced walks” calls to mind the mythological garden which Ruskin recreated in old age at Brantford, with its ziggy-zaggy terraces laid out in imitation of the purgatorial mountain. This is now restored, based on sketches that Ruskin made in the 1870s as the “Paradise of Terraces”. Ruskin conceived it as an entrance to the lakeside garden, recreating the journey of the soul to paradise on the purgatorial mount. Each of the seven ziggy-zaggy terraces (Purgatorio, X–XXVII) of suffering and spiritual growth, in Dante carved into the rockface of the mountain, is devoted to purging one of the seven capital or deadly sins: pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony, lust. They rise from the River of Styx, as Dante describes it flowing at the base of "malignant grey cliffs" in the fifth circle of the Inferno, to the first circle of paradise, recreated at Brantwood as the “Painters’ Glade”.

Islamic seven gardens: mount

The purgatorial terraces echo the seven gardens of paradise of the Muslim east. Dante’s mountain-centredness and eschatology link to the creative imagination which Henri Corbin describes in the theophanic visions of the great Murcian mystical poet and “Platonist”, Ibn al-‘Arabī (1165–1240).10  Miguel Asín Palacios argued (1919)11  that Dante used sources derived through Islamic Spain (and plausibly Sicily and the Crusades), and more broadly from the east through the Indo-Iranian tradition. This hypothesis dating to the 19th-century critic, Alessandro d’Ancona, or even to the late-18th century, is often dismissed as controversial or overstated, and has even been styled “a scandalous chapter in the history of Dante scholarship.” The discovery of the Liber scale machometi, with its narration of Muḥammad’s night voyage to Hell and Paradise, by an isrā’, a nocturnal journey during which the Prophet visited the infernal regions, has only served to revive the debate. Ruskin’s interest in the Islamic east is well documented.12 There are many infoldings and cross-influences, where Dante’s work is a centrepiece with summa-like, encyclopaedic qualities, bringing together universal strands, pre-eminent not just in medieval culture, but enduring into our own time.

W.B. Yeats: portrait by his father

Three of the great modernist poets of the English language in the early 20th century, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and W.B. Yeats, all in their various ways paid homage to Dante at the core of their work. There is time to take just William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) as the last link in this hypothetical chain, forging a viable connection between Ruskin, Dante and the wisdom of the East.

Yeats spent four years, from 1884 until early 1887, in early life as “a paint-stained art student” (Maud Gonne) in the Dublin art colleges dominated by John Ruskin's aesthetic. In the opening sentence of the first draft of his autobiography, begun in 1915, he states that (like Gandhi):

“I began to read Ruskin's Unto This Last (1855) and this, when added to my interest in psychical research and mysticism, enraged my father, who was a disciple of John Stuart Mill’s. One night a quarrel over Ruskin came to such a height that in putting me out of the room he broke the glass in a picture with the back of my head. Another night when we had been in argument over Ruskin or mysticism, I cannot now remember what theme, he followed me upstairs to the room I shared with my brother. He squared up at me, and wanted to box, and when I said I could not fight my own father replied, 'I don’t see why you should not.' “

Blake’s Dante illuss.

The world of the visual arts defines and permeates the poetic career of Yeats, with his devotion to William Blake and “the Ancients”, Edward Calvert and Samuel Palmer,13 a child of the arts and crafts movement, steeped in Morris and the Kelmscott Press, maintaining abiding friendships with Thomas Sturge Moore, William Rothenstein, Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, and many others.

Illuss. by Shannon (Yeats’s bookplate), Sturge Moore, Cuala Press

Yeats refined his interest in the book arts and maintained rigid supervision of the production of his poetic output from In the Seven Woods in 1903, his first book produced by Dun Emer Industries, established in Dublin by Evelyn Gleeson and the poet's spinster sisters, Elizabeth (Lolly) and Susan (Lily), with Yeats as literary advisor. Lily’s Cuala Press issued elegant books, most of them books of Yeats’s poetry ‘as they arrived and before they were commercially published’. The format established a template for all Yeats’s ensuing poetry collections.

When he finally visited Venice on 10 April 1907, with Augusta Lady Gregory and her son Robert, driving over the Apennines to Urbino, he did so with a copy of Ruskin's The Stones of Venice as his vademecum. Ruskin's views on architectural form and the poet's own social, psychological, and aesthetic experience - especially as he gazed into the Venetian light with which Gregory, herself a dedicated Ruskinian, described him as enthralled - generate a modernist prototype style.

Dante Alighieri and Yeats were born almost exactly 600 years apart, on 13 June 1865 and around late May or early June 1265. Again, Dante a core influence in what the critic George Bornstein calls Yeats’s antimonial thought, “hammering his thoughts into unity” on his spiritual quest for what he called14

“ ‘Unity of Being’, using the term as Dante used it when he compared beauty in the Convivio to a perfectly proportioned human body. My father, from whom I had learned the term, preferred a comparison to a musical instrument so strung that if we touch a string all the strings murmur faintly.” [1999a: 164]15 

From his early study of the occult and the theosophy of Mme Blavatsky, Rosicrucianism, Plotinus, the Golden Dawn, the Swedenborgian visions of Blake, the illustrator of Dante’s Inferno, his critical meeting with Rabindranath Tagore (for whom he wrote the introduction for his Gitanjali), to Hindu Vedic philosophy, psychical research and Japanese Noh plays, all were heterogenous themes in Yeats’s syncretic quest, where Eastern religion was from early days a core if dilettante interest. He professed (1937), “I have fed upon the philosophy of the Upanishads all my life… For some forty years my friend George Russell (A.E.) has quoted me passages from some Upanishad.”16

Palmer Lonely Tower etching, proof

The imagery of purgatorial quest is always present: in place, the table-topped mensa of Ben Bulben’s head, 1,700 feet high, which dominates the Sligo landscape of his youth, and eventually Yeats’s own tombstone, with its siste viator legend. The quest is present too in Yeats’s perennial images of the gyres, the winding stair, his mystical journey to the east symbolised by Sailing to Byzantium. His tower house at Thoor Ballylee becomes a symbol of the lonely tower described by Milton (Il Penseroso) and Shelley (Prince Athanase), and realised in the famous etching by Samuel Palmer, the tower where the lamp burns for the hermit poet, reading alone in the dark, seeker of “mysterious wisdom won by toil”.

Later in his life, Thomas Sturge Moore introduced Yeats to Shree Purohit Swami, poet, Vedantist philosopher and Hindu monk, and they formed a close literary partnership. His interest in the Upanishads was reawakened and they went on to collaborate in their translation of the Ten Principal Upanishads in Majorca in 1935-6. As a disciple and biographer of Shri Bhagwan Hamsa, Purohit Swami gave a series of lectures on the Bhagavad Gita, the 700-line allegorical “song” about the moral dilemma of the battlefield which remains the core text of Hindu spirituality.

Gopura at Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram

A Hindu temple is a symbolic house, the seat and dwelling place of a god of the pantheon: as Jorge Luis Borges expresses it, “the smile of Shiva”. It is a structure designed to promote what might be called Yeatsian “Unity of Being”, that sympathetic harmony of humans and gods where “all the strings murmur faintly”. Typically built on an elaborately carved plinth (adhisthana), the temple is referred to in Hindu texts on architecture (the Vastu Shastras) as the sacred mountain, Meru or Kailas, the throne of Shiva in the Himalayas. Seen from afar, and especially from above, many Dravidian temples, with their monumental tower portals, or gopurams--typically, as at Chidambaram, of seven levels--take the form of a mountain mass or spire, derived from that same truncated pyramidal form, the hipped wedge, which Viollet-le-Duc had used on his tower-spires, paradigms for the one at Woodchester Park.


Kailas image and tanka

Yeats late in life became absorbed in the Kailas legend. He was by now too frail to realise his voyage to India, but his late essay ‘The Holy Mountain’ (1934) served as an introduction to Shri Hamsa’s account of his pilgrimage and initiation on Mount Kailas, the crystal spire of Shiva, the purgatorial mountain of the East, when “he had in meditation been ordered to seek Turiya, the greater or conscious Samadhi, ‘bliss bound to no aim’, at Mount Kailas.”

Yeats writes of the spiral’s vacant centre, the still point at the bedded axle tree, where the wars on God begin, “where all the serpent tails are bit, where all the gyres converge in one”. His own poem, Meru (1935), is one of the polemics of the smiling public man in his old age, ravening, “that he may come into the desolation of reality”, which appeared in his last work Parnell’s Funeral & Other Poems (1935), evoking

Hermits upon Mount Meru or Everest,
Caverned in night under the drifted snow

where Meru is the symbolic mystical mountain of the mind, whose strata are echeloned on the dome of Kailas, and Everest the lofty, quotidian “real presence”, whose rings enfold like the serpent tail of the uroboros. Yeats observes of Kailas: …

“We too have learnt from Dante to imagine our Eden, or earthly Paradise, upon a mountain, penitential rings upon the slope.”

Ruskin's India


1 Alison Milbank, ‘Ruskin and Dante: Centrality and De-Centring’, John Rylands Library Bulletin, 1991;73(1):119-134. The French senate intervened in the debate over the restoration of Notre-Dame cathedral by passing a bill (16 July 2019) approving the government’s proposals with the added requirement that the cathedral be rebuilt to its ‘last known visual state’.
2 London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1877, 12-13. Original title: Le Massif du Mont Blanc: Etude sur sa Constitution Géodesique et Géologique sur ses Transformations et sur l'Etat Ancien et Moderne de ses Glaciers, 1876.
3 Aillagon, Jean-Jacques, Vernes, Michel, Viollet-le-Duc, Geneviève, Le Voyage d'Italie d'Eugène Viollet-le-Duc: 1836-1837, Paris: Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, 1980.
4 Robin Middleton, ‘The Rationalist Interpretations of Classicism of Leonce Reynaud and Viollet-Le-Duc’, Architectural Association, Spring 1986, No. 11, pp. 29-48.
5 Voyages dans les Alpes 1779-96, 4 vols. See Cynthia Gamble, ‘John Ruskin, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc and the Alps’, The Alpine Journal, 1999, pp. 185-6.
6 Alison Milbank, ‘Ruskin And Dante: Centrality and De-Centring’, in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 73: Issue 1.
7 Jay Fellows, Ruskin's Maze: Mastery and Madness in His Art, Princeton, 2014; Penelope Reed Doob, The Idea of the Labyrinth from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages, Cornell U.P., 1919, pp. 271-85.
8 Modern Painters, volume III (part IV)
9 Index to Cook and Wedderburn’s edition.
10 H. Corbin, L'Imagination créatrice dans le soufisme d'Ibn ‘Arabī (Paris, 1958).
11 English edition: Miguel Asín Palacios, Islam and the Divine Comedy, trans. Harold Sunderland (London: Murray, 1926). A recent general study is Vicente Cantarino, Dante and Islam: History and Analysis of a Controversy, 2014.
12 Mujadad Zaman, ‘Ruskin’s Islamic Orient and the Formation of a European Ideal’, in John Ruskin’s Europe: a collection of cross-cultural essays, Venice: Ca’ Foscari, 2020.
13 Raymond Lister, Beulah to Byzantium: A Study of Parallels in the Works of W.B. Yeats, William Blake, Samuel Palmer & Edward Calvert. Being No. II of The Dolmen Press Centenary Papers, 1965.
14 ‘Four Years: 1887-91 of Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries’, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia & Kant, 2011), pp. 37–59.
15 The alleged passage in Il Convivio has been nowhere identified by critics. Charika Swanepoel, (2022) ‘Three Sources of W. B. Yeats’s Syncretic Christ: Dante, Blake and the Upanishads’, Open Library of Humanities, 8(2), 1-23.
16 Hone, 1962: 459. Quoted in P. Kuch, Yeats and AE: The Antagonism that Unites Dear Friends, 1986: 20; see Yeats’s preface to The Ten Principal Upanishads, 1937.


An Anglo-Indian, Anglo-Florentine Translator: Joseph Garrow and a Version of Dante's 'Vita Nuova' -  Nick Havely, University of York

Joseph Garrow, his father Joseph Garrow, brother to Sir William Garrow, his aunt, Eleanor Garrow

British interest in Dante's Vita nuova - his early collection of love lyrics with his own commentary developed quite late. It is evident to some extent among Romantics such as the Shelleys and Leigh Hunt, and significant amounts of translation appear in the 1830s, in thre work of Tennyson's friend Arthur Hallam and the published versions of the poems by Charles Lyell, father of the more famous geologist. But the first complete translation of the whole work that was published in Florence in 1846 has been overshadowed by later nineteenth-century versions, such as those by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Charles Eliot Norton.

The Early Life of Dante Alighieri, the first complete translation of the Vita nuova by Joseph Garrow, who was born in India in 1789 and died in Florence in 1857, has been largely ignored even in the scholarship of Dante reception. The monumental collection of sources for Dante in English Literature does not quote from it and refers to it only as a footnote to a section on Lyell's versions.1 A major 20th century monograph on Dante and  English Poetry gives the  Early Life very little attention, regarding its influence in England as 'naturally limited' because of its publication in Florence.2 In the present century, this translation has become even less visible, and it does not even feature in the indexes to recent major studies of reception of the Vita nuova.3 Yet, as a brief article by George Watson in 1986 suggested, Garrow's Early Life of Dante is a significant 'first', and there is more evidence now available about its contexts and reception.

As the mix of adjectives - Anglo-Indian, Anglo Florentine - in my title may suggest, I am approaching Garrow and his translation from a mixture of motives and directions. As a semi-dantista I am interested in developments -especially nineteenth-century developments in the reception of texts such as the Vita nuova and the Divina Commedia. More personally, being myself of mixed Parsi and British parentage, I am also interested in Garrow's Anglo-Indian origins and in how as such he made his way in early nineteenth-century British and Italian society and culture. There are, as you will see, many gaps in my account; hence quite ample scope remains for further research on this subject.

The information that I have so far been able to glean about Garrow's parentage and his own Early Life is quite sparse. His father - also named Joseph Garrow -was born in 1757, one of ten children of the Rev. David Garrow, a schoolmaster in Hadley, Middx, near London. Following his elder brother Edward, Joseph Garrow Senior (as I shall call him) became a writer in the British East India Company in 1779 and was subsequently a Senior Merchant. He became secretary to the Commander in Chief of the Madras Presidency army, Colonel William Medows, and acted as the  Company's Steward, responsible for plate, furniture and fixtures in Government houses. In 1781 he is recorded as present at a meeting to discuss the threat of a French attack, and in 1790 during the Mysore War, he was appointed to a committee (quote) 'for the prupose of investigating Charges of Corruption and Peculation' against a former Governor of Madras and his associates. Like other colonial officials of the time - such as Charles 'Hindoo' Stuart and most famously Dalrymple's 'White Mughal' James Achilles Kirkpatrick - Joseph Senior had a long term relationship with an Indian woman whose name 'Sultan' suggests she was a Muslim. So far as I am aware, all that is known about her is in the will that Joseph Senior himself wrote some time before his death in 1792, leaving Sultan a lifetime allowance and a house. The subject of this paper, their two year old son Joseph was more amply provided for in the will, with a trust fund of £5000 for his education, a personal legacy of £2000 and the stipulation that if it was not possible for him to be brought up properly in India, he should be sent to England where his aunt was tasked with supervising his education after the age of sixteen.

In the event the infant Joseph Garrow was sent to England almost immediately after his father's death and was put into the care of one of his father's other siblings, the prominent lawyer, Sir William Garrow (1760-1840), a famous jurist and defence counsel whose early career is the subject of a BBC courtroom drama series. After the death of his aunt who left him a legacy of £1000, Joseph took his BA and MA degrees at  Cambridge, and began legal training in 1810 at Lincoln's Inn. In 1812 he married a well-to-do widow and contralto singer, Theodosia Abrams/Fisher (one of the famous Abrams Sisters duo), then lived for over twenty years in Torquay where he served as a magistrate and the family became 'active in the musical life of Devon.'4

Music was one of his main interests: his son-in-law Thomas Adolphus Trollope, whose memoirs are a source for much of the information about Garrow's life, describes him as an accomplished violinist.  In 1835 he published a book of Sacred Music ... arranged ... for Four Voices and 'selected' as the title-page says, 'from that usually sung in St John's Chapel, Torquay'. Alongside some works of major composers, such as Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Weber he included some of his own: a mini Christmas oratorio, several hymns and settings of five psalms. 'Mrs Garrow' (Theodosia Abrams) also contributed to the collection, which, more unexpectedly, includes a couple of compositions by 'Miss Garrow', the couple's eighteen year old daughter, also named Theodosia, whose accomplishments and connections are a significant part of the context for Joseph Garrow's translation.

In 1844 the young Theodosia's fragile health was a reason for the family relocating to Florence.

Evidence about Joseph Garrow's Florentine contacts remains meagre, and I have regrettably no knowledge of any correspondence, journals or notes that he might have kept at this or any other time. Like many expatriates he is known to have frequented the Vieusseux library on his arrival in Florence in 1844, and I find that he signed the Libro dei Soci at the Gabinetto Vieusseux on 21 October, giving his address as 'No. 4350 Piazza S[anta] M[aria] Novella'. Amongst his acquaintances was that with one of the prominent members of the Anglo-Florentine community: the poet and essayist Walter Savage Landor. Trollope's 1887 memoirs are again a source for the early stage of this relationship. They include three letters from Landor to Garrow during the late 1830s when both were in England, indicating Landor's interest in the young Theodosia's poetry and referring to both correspondents' close friendship with the Piedmontese exile  Giovanni Bezzi d'Aubrey, who would two years later share in the discovery of the Bargello 'portrait', thought then to be of Dante by Giotto.5 Landor remained in contact with Garrow during his years in Florence and composed an epitaph for him: a joky but affectionate tribute which ends like a medieval mortality lyric (quote) 'Now genial hospitable Garrow/ Thy door is closed, thy house is narrow'.6 Landor had received a copy of  The Early Life whose preface he annotated, registering some vigorous disagreements with Garrow. For instance, the idea of the Vn as the 'foundation of all the romances which have since been written' is one which Landor dismisses as (quote) 'absurd.'7

Another key relationship during Garrow's Florentine years was that with his talented daughter Theodosia. Born in 1816,  Theodosia gained fame as a poet by the late 1830s, would become a much more prolific translator than her father, and achieved cultural and political prominence among the expatriate community in Florence.8 Her early verses, published in 1839, drew the attention of Elizabeth Barrett and Walter Savage Landor9, and soon after the family had moved to Florence in 1844 she herself turned to Italian texts. Described by the American journalist Kate Field as possessed of 'great intellectual gifts', Theodosia translated political poems by Italian nationalist authors such as Giusti and Dell'Ongaro, as well as plays by the then censored Republican dramatist Giovanni Battista Niccolini.10 Following her marriage to Thomas Adolphus Trollope in 1848, she collaborated with him in editing the short-lived English-language Tuscan Athenaeum, and her influential articles on the Risorgimento for the London Athenaeum were collected and reprinted as Social Aspects of the Italian Revolution.11

Although some of Theodosia Garrow's most significant translation work coincided with her father's version of the Vita nuova, there is no written record of conversations between them on the subject of Dante or Italian literature. However, amongst Theodosia's many poems is one on the discovery of the Bargello 'portrait' of Dante (which features as the frontispiece to her father's version of Vita nuova), and her translation of Niccolini's 1843 revolutionary drama Arnaldo da Brescia itself concerned a medieval subject and was composed at about the same time as The Early Life.12 Given the closeness of Theodosia's relationship with Garrow (noted by her husband in his memoirs), and her talent for verse and languages, especially Italian - it seems very unlikely that father and daughter would not at some point have discussed the Vn translation project over the Florentine winter during which Garrow worked on his version of the Dantean text.13 Theodosia was obviously one of the 'literary persons ... in Italy' with whom, as her father put it in his preface to The Early Life,  it was his (quote) 'good fortune to converse.'

Finally, there is some further evidence about the material afterlife of Garrow's translation. It was published by the Florentine firm founded in 1837 by Felice Le Monnier, who had made his way in the business by following the nationalist current, sometimes in inventive and adventurous ways.14 From 1849 to 1864 the list of Le Monnier's best-sellers was topped by Dante's Commedia (22,750 copies in numerous reprints), and  he would also publish three editions of the Vita nuova which sold 3,500 copies during the same period.15 Garrow may thus have been envisaging more Florentine sales in designing his parallel-text for 'Italians studying English, as well as ... English studying Italian.'16 If so, he would have been disappointed; unlike Lyell's Canzoniere, the Early Life would not be reprinted. Garrow's text is quite rare, although not as rare as Watson's 1986 article suggested. There are at least fifteen copies in UK libraries and five in the USA. The book was owned not only by Landor but also by, for example: John Forster (biographer of Dickens); by a translator of the Vita nuova (Charles Eliot Norton) and a translator of the Inferno (George Musgrave); and by of the later nineteenth century, such as Henry Clark Barlow, Edward Moore and Herman Oelsner.17 The early reviews were mixed but recognize the importance of the complete Vita nuova being  (as one of them put it) ' now for the first time given to English readers'.18  First and most closely attentive of these was one that appeared in The Athenaeum on 10 October 1846. It noted the existence of Lyell's previous 'excellent version of the poems', whilst welcoming the new attempt at (quote) 'presenting this extraordinary production in its integrity', went on to quote extensively from Garrow's 'Preface' and from the translation itself, concluding with the recommendation that 'all who may' should 'procure the present translation', which is described as ' faithful and spirited', even when the fidelity does not create an 'elegant' impression.19 The Early Life of Dante by this Anglo-Indian Anglo-Florentine translator was a neglected though not entirely forgotten book, and one whose own reception would reflect some features of the developing 'cult' of the Vn in the nineteenth century.


1 Toynbee 1909: 2. 593, n. 1.
2  Ellis 1983: 104.
3 Milbank 1998 and Straub 2009.
4 Hostettler and Braby 2010: 196-7. On Theodosia Abrams/Fisher's singing career and that of her sisters, see ODNB, s.v. 'Abrams, Harriett (c.1758-1821).
5 Trollope 1887-9: 1. ch. 14.
6 For Landor's epitaph, see Stebbins and Stebbins 1946: 183-4 and (for the version published in 1897) Watson 1986: 402-3.
7 Landor's pencil annotations to Garrow's 'Preface' are in the British Library copy  (C. 134 e. 19, inscribed 'From the Translator'); his sceptical comments about Platonic theory and about Vn and 'modern romance' are on pp. xvi-xviii. Further on these and on Landor's Examiner review, see Watson 1986: 403-5.
8 See ODNB, s.v. 'Trollope [née Garrow], Theodosia (1816-1865), author.'
9 Stebbins and Stebbins 1946: 122-3
10 Richet 2016: 5-7
11 Garrow Trollope 1861; see also Hostettler and Braby 2010: 201-3.
12 On the poem (translated into Italian by Niccolini), see Stebbins and Stebbins 1946: 123-4.
13 Trollope 1887-9: chs 9 and 18.
14 See (online) Treccani 2015.
15 Caesar 1989: 66.
16 Garrow 1846: vi.
17 Forster's copy was donated by him to the National Art Library, London; Norton refers to Garrow in his own 1859 Vn translation (p. 101, n. 3); Musgrave's translation of Inf. was published in 1893 and 1933 (see Cunningham 1966: 186-91) and his copy of Garrow's Vita nuova is in the library of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Barlow's - acquired during his visit to the Florentine Festa di Dante in 1865 - is in Special Collections at University College London; and Moore's and Oelsner's are in the Taylorian at Oxford.  There are at least 15 copies in UK libraries and 5 in the USA.
18 Landor 1846: 659 col. 2.
19 Athenaeum 10 October 1846, p. 1040, col. 3 and 1042 cols 1-2. Watson (1986: 403) misreads 'spirited' as 'spiritual'.

Caesar, M., 1989. Dante: the Critical Heritage 1314(?)-1870. London and New York: Routledge.
Cunningham, G., 1966. The Divine Comedy in English: A Critical Bibliography, 1782-1900. Edinburgh and London: Oliver & Boyd.
Ellis, S., 1983. Dante and English Poetry: Shelley to T.S. Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Garrow, J., 1835. Sacred Music ... arranged ... for Four Voices. London: J. Green.
Garrow, J.,  1846. The Early Life of Dante Alighieri, together with the Original in Parallel Pages, by Joseph Garrow Esqr. A.M.  Florence: Le Monnier.
Garrow Trollope, T., 1861.  Social Aspects of the Italian Revolution. London: Chapman & Hall.
Hostettler, J. and Braby, R., 2010. Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times and Fight for Justice. Sherfield on Loddon: Waterside Press.
Milbank, A., 1998. Dante and the Victorians. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Stebbins, L.P. and R.P. 1946. The Trollopes: The Chronicle of a Writing Family. London: Secker & Warburg.
Straub, J., 2009. A Victorian Muse: The Afterlife of Dante's Beatrice in Nineteenth-Century Literature. London and New York: Continuum.
Toynbee, P.J., 1909. Dante in English Literature, from Chaucer to Cary (c. 1380-1844). 2 vols, London: Methuen.
Treccani 2015. 'Felice Le Monnier' in Dizionario biografico degli italiani. Online article at: http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/felice-le-monnier_(Dizionario-Biografico)/
Trollope, T.A., 1887-9.  What I Remember. 3 vols, London: Richard Bentley.
Watson, G., 1986. 'The First English Vita Nuova.' Huntington Library Quarterly 49, pp. 401-7.
Richet, Isabelle (2016), "Two Women Periodical Editors in Nineteenth-Century Italy: Theodosia Garrow Trollope and Helen Zimmern as  Literary and Cultural Go-Betweens." Online at:
http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/cosmopolis-and-beyond-literary-cosmopolitanism-after-republic-letters  [paper 20]

Queen Victoria

Queen Victorian, India and Florence - Domenico Savini

Queen Victoria Empress of India - Gabriella Del Lungo Camiciotti

In the late nineteenth century, economic, political, and religious motives prompted European nations to expand their influence over other regions, each with a goal to increase their power across the globe. The British empire expanded overseas as the Industrial Revolution of the 1800's created a need for natural resources to fuel newly invented machinery and transportation. In this period India, which was already under crown control after 1858, acquired an imperial status to  bind colonial India more closely to its metropolitan centre, London.
A Royal Titles Bill was brought before Parliament in 1876 and in 1877, Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Prime Minister, had Queen Victoria proclaimed as Empress of India.  Queen Victoria opened Parliament in person, the first time since the death of Prince Albert, to announce the change in royal title. Celebrations were held in Delhi, in what is known as the Delhi Durbar, on 1 January 1877, led by the Viceroy, Lord Lytton. This event inaugurated the period of new imperialism in Britain. This ideology was disseminated by a large number  of imperial  propagandist agencies founded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth  centuries; these propagated a world view largely based on a renewed militarism, a devotion to  royalty, an identification  and worship of national heroes, together with a contemporary cult of personality, and racial ideas associated with Social Darwinism. As observed by MacKenzies (1990, p.2-3) the influence of these ideas on  popular culture extended deeply into the educational system, the armed forces, uniformed youth movements, the Churches and missionary societies, and forms of public entertainment like the music hall and exhibitions . However also the intelligentsia was not immune to imperialism. Perhaps the most famous writer1 who helped to disseminate the idea of the superiority of white civilization is Kipling as he made himself the interpreter, propagandist, and chief apologist of the Imperialist elite. A less Darwinian point of view is that held by Lytton Strachey, member of the Bloomsbury group of intellectuals, who after his successful Eminent Victorians (1918), published  Queen Victoria in 1921.

Queen Victoria
As indicated by MacKenzies, reverence for the monarchy developed only from the late 1870s, and when it did it was closely bound up with the monarch’s imperial role. The biography of  Queen Victoria by Strachey contributed to establish the monarch as the emblem of empire by stressing her role as royal matriarch as if the whole empire was her extended family, and  it shows her  particular attachement to India.
Queen Victoria was fascinated by India. As indicated by Le Jeune (2017, p. 1) «Throughout her life, the female monarch was very active in her discovery of India. She sought to get in contact with “her Indian people” and she regularly inquired about their wellbeing. She was very curious to hear or read about the testimonies and personal narratives of English officers or travellers having recently returned from India. She grew fond of Indian people, particularly of those whom she was able to meet in England. She collected artefacts, paintings and sketches, which evoked scenes of life on the Indian subcontinent. She tried to recreate an oriental world around her at Osborne House later in life. In her Raj, she tried to defend the natives of India against her ministers’ harsh imperial rule, out of motherly affection.»
Victoria took her duties as Empress very seriously and when her Golden Jubilee came around in 1887 she made every effort to showcase her ‘jewel in the crown of the British Empire’ as she called the Raj. She hosted lavish banquets and parties not only for European nobility but also for Indian princes,  and rode in elaborate processions accompanied by the Colonial Indian cavalry. Indian attendants were brought to the royal household to help with the festivities as well. Victoria took a liking to one of her new servants in particular: Abdul Karim. Soon his role changed from waiting at tables to teaching the Queen to read, write and speak in Urdu, or ‘Hindustani’. The Queen wanted to know everything about India, a place where she ruled but could never visit. Abul told her all about Agra, from the local fruits and spices to the sights and sounds of his homeland. It was not long before he became her ‘Munshi’, or teacher, and they began a friendship that would last over a decade.

Queen Victoria biography
In his biography of Queen Victoria Strachey focuses on only one of the three elements of imperial propaganda indicated by MacKenzie. After she was proclaimed empress of India, he shows how the monarchy is linked to imperialism, and in particular how suitably Victoria represents empire (p. 131-132):

(1) Naturally it was in the Crown that the mysticism of the English polity was concentrated—the Crown, with its venerable antiquity, its sacred associations, its imposing spectacular array. But, for nearly two centuries, common-sense had been predominant in the great building, and the little, unexplored, inexplicable corner had attracted small attention.Then, with the rise of imperialism, there was a change. For imperialism is a faith as well as a business; as it grew, the mysticism in English public life grew with it; and simultaneously a new importance began to attach to the Crown. The need for a symbol—a symbol of England's might, of England's worth, of England's extraordinary and mysterious destiny—became felt more urgently than ever before. The Crown was that symbol: and the Crown rested upon the head of Victoria. Thus it happened that while by the end of the reign the power of the sovereign had appreciably diminished, the prestige of the sovereign had enormously grown. Yet this prestige was not merely the outcome of public changes; it was an intensely personal matter, too. Victoria was the Queen of England, the Empress of India, the quintessential pivot round which the whole magnificent machine was revolving—but how much more besides!  

The British certainly understood  their empire hierarchically, in racial terms of superiority and inferiority, centre and periphery, but, as indicated by Cannadine (2001), together with the colonial view of India based on differences, they also had a perception of colonial territories based on sameness  as they saw other peoples also as composed of individuals who could be compared on the basis of status similarity; this led to the recognition of equal social status- princes are princes everywhere – and formed the basis of the fully elaborate  Raj in India. This aspect is present also in Strachey’s biography, where Victoria is presented as the matriach ruling on  her  people, both British and colonial. This is  solemnly recorded by Strachey in occasion of her jubilee, which  legitimated her imperial status in the relationship between the Crown and the princely rulers of the Indian subcontinent, now integrated into British aristocratic principles (p.122):

(2) Next year [1887] was the fiftieth of her reign, and in June the splendid anniversary was celebrated in solemn pomp. Victoria, surrounded by the highest dignitaries of her realm, escorted by a glittering galaxy of kings and princes, drove through the crowded enthusiasm of the capital to render thanks to God in Westminster Abbey. In that triumphant hour the last remaining traces of past antipathies and past disagreements were altogether swept away. The Queen was hailed at once as the mother of her people and as the embodied symbol of their imperial greatness; and she responded to the double sentiment with all the ardour of her spirit.England and the people of England, she knew it, she felt it, were, in some wonderful and yet quite simple manner, hers. Exultation, affection, gratitude, a profound sense of obligation, an unbounded pride—such were her emotions; and, colouring and intensifying the rest, there was something else. At last, after so long, happiness—fragmentary, perhaps, and charged with gravity, but true and unmistakable none the less—had returned to her. The unaccustomed feeling filled and warmed her consciousness. When, at Buckingham Palace again, the long ceremony over, she was asked how she was, 'I am very tired, but very happy,' she said.

Strachey also shows how the ceremonial role of the empress grew.  Indian and Colonial Exibitions, opened by Victoria, were enacted with considerable pageantry. Queen Victoria  became the pivot of the new imperialism, perceived in Britain as a period of security and prosperity. Both the 1887 and 1897  celebrations  brought to London colonial Premiers and Indian  princes, together with exotic and colourful troops and retainers. So Stracey describes the day after the jubilee (p. 123):

(3) And so, after the toils and tempests of the day, a long evening followed—mild, serene, and lighted with a golden glory. For an unexampled atmosphere of success and adoration invested the last period of Victoria's life. Her triumph was the summary, the crown, of a greater triumph—the culminating prosperity of a nation. The solid splendour of the decade between Victoria's two jubilees can hardly be paralleled in the annals of England. The sage counsels of Lord Salisbury seemed to bring with them not only wealth and power, but security; and the country settled down, with calm assurance, to the enjoyment of an established grandeur. And—it was only natural—Victoria settled down too. For she was a part of the establishment—an essential part as it seemed—a fixture—a magnificent, immovable sideboard in the huge saloon of state. Without her the heaped-up banquet of 1890 would have lost its distinctive quality—the comfortable order of the substantial unambiguous dishes, with their background of weighty glamour, half out of sight.

Concluding observations
Strachey’s biography of Queen Victoria focuses on her trasformation from petulant widow to imperial matriarch. Her world-wide role  of Empress provided her with excitement in her old age and a new significance  to the ceremonial surrounding her.
Though the most extreme darwinistic tones of the imperialist ideology are absent from this work, the favourable light shed on the mystical quality of the British Empire and on  Victoria, a Tory imperialist herself no less than her minister, shows clearly that  her biography by Strachey is a piece of propaganda in favour of the colonial frame of mind so wide spread in Victorian and Edwardian Britain among all social classes and which, says MacKenzie (1990, p. 4), inaugurated  a period - which would last until the accession of Elizabeth II - in which all great royal  occasions would be imperial.


1  On the propagandistic role of literature see   Nünning, Ansgar and Rupp, Jan, 2008.

Bearce George D. (1961). British Attitudes Towards India,1784-1858. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Cannadine David (2001). Ornamentalism. How the British saw their Empire. Penguin Books, London.
Le Jeune Françoise (2017)."Queen Victoria’s orientalism, inventing India in England". In Imaginaires, Féminisme et orientalisme, 21, hal.archives-ouvertes.fr-03313493.
MacKenzie John M. (1990, 1984). Propaganda and Empire. The Manipulation of British public opinion, 1880-1960. Manchester University Press.
Metcalf Thomas R. (1995). Ideologies of the Raj,  Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Nünning, Ansgar and Rupp, Jan. "The Dissemination of Imperialist Values in Late Victorian Literature and Other Media". In Ethics in Culture: The Dissemination of Values through Literature and Other Media, edited by Astrid Erll, Herbert Grabes and Ansgar Nünning, Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 2008, pp. 255-278.
Strachy Lytton (1921). Queen Victoria. Release Date: August 21, 2011 [EBook #37153]. Project Gutenberg.


Isa Blagden and Robert Lytton - Elena Giannarelli

2,30-3,30 John Ruskin and Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Traveller to Florence; Admirer of India -
Rita Severi, University of Verona, Italy

In June 1875 Oscar Wilde (1854-1900),1 at the time a twenty-year old student at Oxford University, undertook his first trip to Italy, in the company of his ex-professor of Greek at Dublin’s Trinity College, the ordained protestant minister, J. P. Mahaffy (1839-1919), and a friend called William Goulding. Italy attracted him for cultural as well as religious reasons because in that same year his close friend, Hunter Blair, had become a Roman Catholic convert and Wilde himself was tempted to follow in his steps, but his conversion would take place only at the time of his death, in the great Jubilee year of 1900.2
In Italy Wilde could visit those cities and artistic works which had been described and transfigured by two remarkable teachers he met at Oxford, John Ruskin, whose books The Queen of the Air (1869), Modern Painters (1846) he read, and whose lectures on “The Aesthetical and Mathematical Schools of Art in Florence” he followed and enjoyed in 1874; and Walter Pater, whose book on The Renaissance (1873) he appreciated and avidly read.3
Before the middle of June 1875, Oscar Wilde and his companions started off from Oxford and reached London where they boarded a ship that took them to Livorno, and from there the tourists travelled to Florence, where they stayed from June 15th to the 19th.
As soon as he arrived in Florence, Oscar wrote a long letter to his father, where he describes, in detail and with many drawings, the sights he had visited in the city on that first day. He started by going to San Lorenzo, with its “gorgeous dome”, the two chapels of the Medici, “one bearing Michael Angelo statues of Night and Morning and the other those of Evening and Dawn.” Then the Biblioteca Laurenziana, where he was shown such marvellous illuminated manuscripts that, for the extreme clearness of their letters, he thought, were certainly superior to the Book of Kells. From San Lorenzo he walked to the Etruscan Museum (now the Archaeological Museum), in the site of the ex-monastery of Sant’ Onofrio, which had been inaugurated in 1870 by King Vittorio Emanuele. Here he spent most of the afternoon, while a thunderstorm was raging over Florence, literally enthralled by Etruscan art and its representations of the soul and of life after death. Since he knew how interested his father was in archaeology, he sent him many drawings of cinerary urns, jewels, and common utensils.
Emerging from the Museum, feeling delighted by what he had seen, energized by a clear and cool evening, he went to dine “at a restaurant on top of San Miniato.” On the way back to his lodgings, just opposite the Pitti Palace, he stopped to admire a funeral procession “of monks bearing torches, all in white and wearing a long linen veil over their faces – only their eyes can be seen. They bore two coffins and looked like those awful monks you see in pictures of the Inquisition.”4 
Wilde left Florence on the 19th of June, boarding a train, which, via Bologna, would take him directly to Venice, from which he then travelled to Padua and Verona, and then, from there to Milan (June 24). He left Italy at night, on June 25, for Lausanne. He regretted leaving the inspiring city of Florence on Sunday, after only four days, when there was so much to see and do, and we realize that he had visited more sights only from other scattered notes. For instance, he probably went to San Marco to see the frescoes by the Beato Angelico and the tomb of Pico della Mirandola.5 In the poem, “Ave! Maria” he stated that it had been written at St. Marco, Florence,6 but, when it was published in the “Irish Monthly”, in July 1878, he dated it Vatican Gallery, Rome, 1877. The poems, “San Miniato” and “By the Arno” were certainly written in Florence, since he sent them soon after his return to Oxford in “The Dublin University Magazine”, where they were published on March 1876.
Probably some confusion might have arisen from the fact that in 1875 Wilde left Italy in haste, without visiting Rome (“Rome Unvisited” is a poem he wrote, dated, Arona 1875) and leaving his companions behind, because he had finished his money.
But he was determined to go to Rome and therefore in March and April 1877 he joined Mahaffy and two other students to visit Greece. Then he returned with them via Rome.7 It was a short visit which led him directly to the English Cemetery near the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, and to the tomb of Keats, upon which he meditated.  Some months later he dedicated a sonnet to it, entitled “Heu Miserande Puer” (published in “Irish Monthly”, July 1877, p. 478, then in Poems, in 1881, with the title “The Grave of Keats”), and wrote a letter to the Keats expert, Lord Houghton, lamenting the ugliness of the poet’s profile on the tombstone. Wilde writes: “Keats was lovely as Hyakinthos, or Apollo, to look at and this medallion is a very terrible lie and misrepresentation. I wish it could be removed and a tinted bust of Keats put in its place, like the beautiful coloured bust of the Rajah of Koolapoor at Florence.”
Since Wilde considered Keat’s grave “the holiest place in Rome”,9 he sent his sonnet to many friends, always repeating that it needed a complete restoration, as he had written in “The Irish Monthly”, July 1877, p. 478:
“Reverently some well-meaning persons have placed a marble slab on the wall of the cemetery with a medallion-profile of Keats on it and some mediocre lines of poetry. The face is ugly, and rather hatchet-shaped, with thick sensual lips, and is utterly unlike the poet himself, who was very beautiful to look upon. ‘His countenance,’ says a lady who saw him at one of Hazlitt’s lectures, ‘lives in my mind as one of singular beauty and brightness; it had the expression as if he had been looking on some glorious sight.’ And this is the idea which Severn’s picture of him gives. Even Haydon’s rough pen-and-ink sketch of him is better than this ‘marble libel,’ which I hope will soon be taken down. I think the best representation of the poet would be a coloured bust, like that of the young Rajah of Koolapoor at Florence, which is a lovely and lifelike work of art.”10
Wilde’s association of his favourite poet to the young Rajah, who had died in Florence in 1870, is the first documented example of his attraction for Indian art and culture,11 which undoubtedly took place at the Cascine in Florence.12 
Thereby with a sort of Pindaric flight I can introduce other instances of Oscar Wilde’s appreciation of India and its civilization. 
In April 1887, Oscar Wilde was appointed editor by Wemyss Reid, then in charge of Cassell publications of a feminine magazine entitled, The Lady’s World;13 in November, he occupied his office and set out to enlist many of his aristocratic and intellectual women friends as writers or artistic collaborators of the periodical which, according to his more democratic ideas, he re-named The Woman’s World. For himself he reserved a space, “Literary Notes”, in which he reviewed books, discussed current cultural events, and, in general, expressed very encouraging opinions on the contemporary feminine universe and its diversified achievements. In the first volume of The Woman’s World (1888), the editor intervened five times, with brief contributions of about four pages each; in the second eight times. By 1889, his interest had waned and, quite suddenly, he stopped writing, but before resigning from his lucrative post, he wrote the review of a surprising book by the Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati, The High Caste Hindu Woman (London, George Bell & Sons, 1888, introduced by Miss Rachel Bodley MD, the Dean of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania).14
Wilde initially comments on the Pandita’s unusual upbringing and very advanced education that led her to travel widely across India, “advocating the cause of female education”, and proposing the establishment of the profession of women doctors.  She held conferences all over India and when her fame as a lecturer reached Calcutta, she was invited to speak by the pandits who recognized her knowledge of the Sanskrit texts and her competence, attributing her the titles of Pandita and Sarasvati.
The example of the Indian Ramabai (1858-1922) is compared by Wilde to the life of Miss Mary Carpenter (1807-1877), who had travelled to India in 1866 and written an account of her journey (Six Months in India, London, Longmans, Green &Co., 1868, 2 voll.). Miss Carpenter was particularly keen on studying women’s condition in India and proposing improvements, of course from a Western point of view. “She at once discovered that the chief means by which the desired end could be accomplished was by furnishing women-teachers for the Hindu Zenanas” (inner apartments of the house where the women convened). She proposed a project that could be financed by the British government which could also award scholarships and assist poor women who had the brains, but lacked the means to pursue their education. “Mary Carpenter Scholarships”, financed by English philanthropists, helped many young Indian women to become teachers, especially because the schools were open to women of every caste. Unfortunately, though, the women teachers were not all allowed to exercise their profession, mostly because of caste-rules.
In her book, as Wilde approvingly points out, Ramabai introduces a different solution. She suggests that the high caste Indian widows should find shelter in open houses where none of their rights would be refused or compromised. Living in this kind of environment, the high caste Hindu women would have “entire freedom of action as regards caste rules”. According to Oscar Wilde, the Pandita’s “wonderfully well-written book (…) is full of suggestion for the social reformer and the student of progress,” and (…) “is likely to produce a radical change in the educational schemes that at present prevail in India”.  Clearly Wilde is against the intrusion of English schemes in Indian society which can certainly fare much better on its own, relying on its great human resources.
In the same volume of The Woman’s World, Frederika Macdonald (1845-1923) signs a rather long article on “Old Indian Poetry and Religious Thought”, which she had previously read as a lecture given at South Place Chapel, Finsbury. The “eclectic congregation” at South Place Chapel, off Liverpool Street, which, since the 1820s, had been associated with radical politics, was led by an American Unitarian preacher, Moncure Conway “who had toured Britain as an abolitionist in the 1860s” and was, by the 1890s, preaching “the benefits of Sunday museum opening for the poor”,16 but also inviting lecturers to talk about the East. Frederika Richardson, married the journalist of the London Daily News, John Macdonald, and followed him to India when he lived there for some time, as correspondent of his newspaper, in the 1870s. Fredericka was also a writer who had published books on Rousseau, Charlotte Brontë, an English rendition of the Ramayana in 1870, as well as a tale about two children growing up in India.   
In her article she declares that it’s practically impossible to understand the customs, traditions, feelings and ways of the Indian nation without some familiarity with its sacred poetry, by which she means the two masterpieces, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, dating back almost 1800-2000 years before Christ. These poems, “the comprehensive record of the imaginative life of India” were preserved by poets and storytellers (like the Iliad and the Odyssey) who wandered from town to town reciting and retelling many cherished legends. Frederika Macdonald, like the Romantic German poet Heinrich Heine, believes that anyone who wishes to learn anything about the Indian way of life must spend time in the “immense Flowering Forests of old Indian Poetry”.
She then concludes her essay by narrating three exemplary tales from the sacred poems. Probably the first story might have caught Wilde’s fancy because it reads like an apologue, a literary form that he exploited in his “Poems in Prose”. It is the story of Valmiki, the supposed narrator of the Ramayana and how he received the gift of poetry. Valmiki would spend his time in meditating about the sorrow of the world, but, when one day he happened to admire two herons flying happily about, innocently enjoying their delight in life, and one of the birds was suddenly struck by the arrow of a hunter, he felt such pain and compassion for the dead creature, that a cry broke from his heart, which he repeated rhythmically over and over again. And when, later on, he meets Brahma who wants to know if he has found the poet that is worthy to sing of Rama, the perfect man, his lament about the dead heron rushes to his lips. Brahma praises him by saying: “Happy Valmiki! You have received the grace of Sarasvati, goddess of Poetry, in recompense for your pity of the heron”.  
Another article, in the same volume of The Woman’s World, “Woman in Oriental Poetry and Literature”, was written by Florence Layard (born in India in 1850 – 1924),17 whose aim is to compare different forms of poetry from various Eastern cultures: Arab, Persian, Hindu, Siamese. In general, she declares, women are held in low esteem in these cultures and, in particular, in Hindu poetry, she points to the peculiar custom of the woman courting the man. The woman in Hindu culture, she avows, with a Victorian shudder of disgust, is actually the pursuer, instead of being pursued. The reason, according to Layard, may be traced in the practice of polygamy which induced women to exercise all their charms in order, first to secure a husband, and secondly to keep him bound to them. Comparing Hindu and Persian poetry, the author argues that in the latter the woman holds a higher position, whereas in the former the feminine ideal is “disfigured by gross and voluptuous imagery and description”. On the whole, the article seems too superficial to express any form of judgment or poetic definition on such a wide theme as the position of women in Oriental poetry.
But for Wilde, as editor of a feminine magazine at the end of the 1880s, the most important aim is apparently to invite women to voice their opinions freely on many issues. Among the many women writers who collaborated to The Woman’s World, some came from aristocratic backgrounds, like Her Royal Highness Princess Christian, or Lady Bellairs; others were professional writers, like Ouida, Olive Schreiner, Mathilda Blind, Mrs. Oliphant, Amy Levy (a young poet discovered by the editor), who had manifested their social interest and, in many cases political engagement; others again were friends, acquaintances & family members of the editor (his mother “Speranza”, who had always expressed a libertarian strain in her political poems & articles  submitted a long poem, “Historic Women”, and his wife Constance graciously commented on fashion and muffs).
When the editor accepted articles on Indian poetry and chose to review a book by an Indian lady he was reacting to the new demand by the British public to learn more about the subcontinent, especially after the 1877 proclamation of Victoria as Empress of India. As Edward W. Said reported on the ongoing struggle of resistance and opposition: “The women’s movement is central here. For as primary resistance gets under way, to be followed by fully fledged nationalist parties, unfair male practices like concubinage, polygamy, foot binding, sati or suttee (the widow who accepts to sit on top of her dead husband’s pyre), and virtual enslavement become the focal points of women’s resistance”. And he further elaborated by adding a few examples from Indian women writers. Wilde also added that the Indian historian and social reformer, Rajah Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833), an early nineteenth century nationalist influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft, mobilized early campaigns for Indian women rights, a common pattern in the colonized world, where the first intellectual stirrings against injustice included attention to the abused rights of all oppressed classes. Later women writers and intellectuals – often from privileged classes and often in alliance with Western apostles of women’s rights like the Theosophist Annie Besant ---came to the forefront of agitation for women’s education”. Amongst the Indian reformers mentioned by Said, the only militant is Pandita Ramabai.18
As an Irishman, son  of the outspoken nationalist, Jane “Francesca” “Speranza” Elgee, Oscar Wilde often expressed elective affinities with nationalist minorities, women, and, as seems quite plain,-- after the publication of his pamphlet, The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891), and later on of the The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), (a lyrical document about his poetical and political stance against the death penalty), -- he was engaged throughout his life, without ever resorting to bombastic declarations, in overcoming injustice and upholding the rights of those sectors of society who still had a very feeble voice.
But Indian culture somehow also left traces in his poetical and prose works which, in general, have not been detected.
For instance, in 1891, Oscar in Paris was writing in French his one act aesthetic play, Salomé, where he dispenses with the dance in the telegraphic stage directions: “Salomé danse la danse des sept voiles”, conveying the idea that this particular dance is universally known. Yet this was not true if we are to believe what he wrote to Beardsley in the dedication of the copy he sent him: “For Aubrey: for the only artist who besides myself knows what the dance of the seven veils is, and can see the invisible dance. Oscar”
The dance of the seven veils corresponds to the dance of the seven planets, or the dance of creation performed by Shiva. It is through the cosmic dance that Shiva Nataraja (master of the dance) begins the process of transformation of the Universe from a state of pure matter to its development into the elements, to their combination into the vegetable and animal worlds and to the creation of man/woman as an act of love during which the androgynous Shiva separates himself into his two natures, the masculine and the feminine, each still retaining something of the other. The dance in Salomé is a mute rhetoric through which the dancer displays her best talents, her bodily charms, and her love for the world, which is the message of the dance.19  
In conclusion, it seems fair to state that Oscar Wilde learned a great deal during his first visit to Florence and showed great respect for India, for its women and men, and its immense culture, which might have influenced his works more than we know.

Biographical data throughout this paper has been checked by consulting the two most recent biographies of the writer: M. Sturgis, Oscar Wilde: A Life, New York, Knopf, 2021 and R. Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, New York, Knopf, 1987.
The Rt. Rev. Sir David H. Blair, In Victorian Days and Other Papers (1939), New York, Books for Libraries Press, 1969, pp. 115-14: “Oscar Wilde as I Knew Him”.
Oscar Wilde’s Oxford Notebooks, ed. with a commentary by Ph. E. Smith II and M. S. Helfand, Oxford, OUP, 1989, pp. 10-17. Wilde’s natural commitment to art made him a natural admirer of both John Ruskin and Walter Pater, cf. R. Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, cit., pp. 46-48.
4  The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, ed. by M. Holland & Rupert Hart-Davis, New York, Henry Holt, 2000, pp. 5-9. From now on Letters.
5  Mentioned in the poem “Phèdre”, dedicated to Sarah Bernhardt, in “The World”, June, 1879, where the actress  “should’st have talked/At Florence with Mirandola…”
Stuart Mason, Bibliography of Oscar Wilde (1914), with a note by R. Ross, New York, Haskell House Publishers, 1972, p. 298
7 Letters, pp.43-45. They arrived in Genoa and proceeded for Ravenna, then boarded a ship at Brindisi for Zante, Olympia, Arcadia, Mykenae, Athens and Corfu.
Letters, pp.49-51. The letter is dated ca. 17 May 1877.
9 Letters, p. 247.Stuart Mason in his Bibliography
of Oscar Wilde, cit., p. 325-326 reports an interview from a San Francisco newspaper, published in March 1882, in which Wilde states that the Pre-Raphaelite school to which he belongs, “owes its origin to Keats more than to anyone else…” See also Oscar Wilde’s Oxford Notebooks, cit., p. 49.
10  Diary of the late Rajah of Kolhapoor during his visit to Europe in 1870, ed. by Capt. Edward W. West, London, Smith, Elder &Co., 1872. The Rajah’s handwritten entries in his diary stop at Innsbruck, but Capt. West, who assisted him throughout his tour, adds many details about his death in Florence, on November 30, 1870 and how the city coped with the Hindu funeral ritual on the banks of the Arno, pp. 85-86 and pp. 121-29.
11  There’s a note on “Indian History” in Oscar Wilde’s Oxford Notebooks cit., p.166, where he states that the Hindus possessed an acute, analytical and logical mind which they dedicated to grammar, criticism and philosophy. “Their imagination ran wild in history”.
12  Wilde returned to Florence in 1894 to join Alfred Douglas and the couple toured the city together, visiting Frederick Stibbert where he signed the Visitors’ Book (Libro delle Firme, p. 147: primavera, 1894, cf. S. Di Marco Frederick Stibbert Vita di un collezionista, Torino, Allemandi, 2008.) The short stay was full of meetings with writers and celebrities and still needs to be fully described.
13  Cf. R. Severi, La Biblioteca di Oscar Wilde, Palermo, Novecento, 2004, pp.31-45.
14  Literary Notes by the Editor, in The Woman’s World, ed. by O. Wilde, London, Cassell &Co., 1889, vol. 2, n. 19 May 1889 p. 389-392. The book was present in Oscar Wilde’s library as “Lot 55”, when it was auctioned off on April 24, 1895.
15 Literary Notes by the Editor of The Woman’s World, cit., pp. 442-445.
16  Cf. D. Maltz, British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870-1900. Beauty for the People, London, Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth - Century Writing and Culture, 2006, p. 31 and p. 123.
17 Ibid., pp. 209-211.

18  E. W. Said, Culture and Imperialism, London, Vintage, 1994, pp. 263-264.
19  Cf. R. Severi, "Oscar Wilde, la femme fatale and the Salomé Myth", in Proceedings of the Xth Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association, (New York, 15-22 August 1982), ed. by C. Guillen, New York, 1985, vol. II, pp. 458-463, collected in Eadem, Oscar Wilde & Company. Sinestesie fin de siècle, Bologna, Patron,2001, p. 50.

Ruskin and Mountains - Sir Nicholas Mander


Some reflections on the word polis, civitas, city - Francesca Ditifeci

As Aristotle said, the human being is zoon politikon echon ton logon, a political animal endowed with speech, a body inhabited by speech. And it is precisely in his identity as a parlessere that he becomes a citizen, an inhabitant of the polis. Thus men are beings capable of politics because they are beings capable of language. In this perspective, it becomes clear that "in a city there must be a place for everyone: a place to pray (the church), a place to love (the home), a place to work (the workshop), a place to think (the school), a place to heal (the hospital). In this city framework, therefore, the political and economic, social and technical, cultural and religious problems of our age take on an elementary and human approach! They appear as they are: that is, problems that can no longer be left unsolved” (La Pira 1954).
It is in the city that the human being seeks his fulfilment because "for each of them Péguy's luminous definition is valid: to be the city of man, a sketch and prefiguration of the city of God. Cities perched around the temple; irradiated by the celestial light that derives from it: cities in which beauty has taken up residence, has transcribed itself in the stones: cities placed on the mountain of centuries and generations: destined still today and tomorrow to bring to the mechanical civilisation of our time and of future times an ever deeper and more essential integration of quality and value! Each of these cities is not a museum where relics, even precious ones, of the past are housed: it is a light and a beauty destined to illuminate the essential structures of the history and civilisation of the future” (La Pira 1955).

Mornings in Delhi - Arjun Shivaji Jain, Companion of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin
Taking after John Ruskin's 1886 Mornings in Florence 1, I wish for the following to be what humble guidance I may offer to travellers in Delhi, both Indian and not, to where I was born and brought up, and returned to, to live and to love. As did Ruskin, I intend to deliver it no otherwise than I would to friends, who may’ve asked me for my views on it, not caring of how ‘wrong’, academically, they might perhaps turn out to be.
Over a course of a week, in spirit, I shall be walking with you around the city. Who knows how much of eras bygone we may encounter, how many of the numberless poets and painters – all lovers in fact – we may meet? We will see what we do, eyes unsullied by dogma. We will see like a child, full-breathed and bright eyed. And may we decide also to see – and it is indeed a decisions – to see happy-hearted? — Before we begin, you’ll be ‘well-advised’, I imagine, by doctors, to take your shots and everything – so you mayn’t catch anything particularly nasty while you’re here; ‘Delhi belly’ is what it’s usually called, I understand. Well, let me tell you that you will indeed catch ‘something’, and that no shot in the world will be able to prevent it really. You may indeed fall sick, and decide to leave on the very first morning, but you may decide to stay as well, forever and ever. A guest is akin to God, it’s believed here in these lands.


Ah! What a morning indeed! And what perfect weather! Can you feel it on your skin? It seems it rained last night. Well, don’t you open your eyes until I tell you to. — Now. See. Carefully as your eyes might react to all this suddenness. The air’s coloured quite differently, is it not? A bright orange, I would say, and vague, as though veiled with white. It smells different too, you know? Spicy and thick, of incense, heavy as though you could collect in a jar and take it back with you. I suggest you don’t speak for a while, at all - but listen. Take the city in, the country in, the subcontinent in – and perhaps the world. Most of today, let me tell you, you may not actively remember, but only as in a dream. So do seize the moment. Do dream the day away today. And no, you will not be sleeping; it is not that sort of a dream. There is no rest here to be found, at least not initially. Why, your senses are all awake, aren’t they? Have you seen as many colours before? Smelled as many scents? Heard as many sounds, or touched as many things? Felt as many feelings? All at once? Have you been inside an ocean, and lived to tell the tale? Well this is it. Notice your attention becoming sharper by the second. The weight of sensation upon you. Infinite sensation. Like lightning it is piercing through your consciousness. There no making sense of anything. This is what life – pure life, raw life – looks like.


Good morning! Did you have a good night’s sleep? You had something, didn’t you? You need not answer. I wouldn’t be surprised if your heart was still beating as fast as yesterday. It takes some time indeed. We are walking through Chittaranjan Park today, where I’ve been living for some years now. The Bengali part of the city it is, the part of town the poet Tagore would possibly be living in, were he there. Bengal in Delhi, you ask? Why yes! All of India’s in Delhi, really! And with time, you will see, all the rest of the world as well. The honks, yes, of the cars? Yes, well it is something we need constantly to contend with here. Depending upon where you think Delhi ends, somewhere between seventeen and forty-three million people call Delhi their home – somewhere between the whole of the Netherlands, and more than Ukraine. It’s funny though, overall, how everything seems still to be working. If anywhere there was chaos in the world, it is here, if anywhere anarchy, it too – and yet, everyone seems to remain calm, more or less, and everyone, more or less – more the poor than the rich – has a smile on their face. Even the constant honking – it’s more a ‘hey, I’m here’ than ‘get off!’ really. And oh, you noticed the animals as well? The stray cats and the stray dogs, and the stray cows? Yes, get used to it – as they have, the animals. Lions may well be the kings of the jungles here in India, but cows are the kings of the cities. And oh, however could we forget the monkeys? How dare we, really?


You know, in my childhood, we really did have snake charmers as well? Not joking at all. I lived in Yusaf Sarai as a child, once location of a medieval rest house, and now a proper Delhi colony, an urban village. For all its population and pollution, Delhi is, believe it or not, one of the greenest cities in the world, as you of course can see. Last month, the semal tree- red-cotton-silk was all in bloom, in celebration of Holi perhaps, the festival of colours. Oh yes, we have loads of them, festivals. Every couple of weeks, seriously! But yes, it was semal then, and soon it will all be amaltas everywhere, laburnum, and Gulmohar, the beautifully crimson Royal Poinciana – which you can in fact eat! It’s somewhat sour! Let me take you to Deer Park next, rather nearby, and my favourite park when young. Oh, look!  A peacock! And rabbits! And deer! And oh God, it smells so nice, doesn’t it? It smells of innocence. And oh, see the mulberry tree is all quite ripe now. Do you want to have a taste? Come on, don’t be so delicate! Pick one off right from the branch – the darker blackish ones are sweeter- and pop it into your mouth. Washing it takes most of the sugar away, it seems. Delicious, isn’t it? And hey, there’s a eucalyptus tree, see? Come, I’ll show you something. Here, rub these dry leaves in your palm – crush them, really – and have a whiff? Yeah? I see you’re distracted by all the names of lovers carved in the trees here.


Oh, how impertinent of me to not have asked you for food yet? It’s been three days already! Well, let me take you to Chandni Chowk then today, the Moonlit Square. Now, this is Old Delhi, the real Delhi if you will, before the British. It’s rather like the Gothic Quarters in Barcelona, isn’t it?! Ah, if only there were less people, or the government would pay more attention. Well anyway, if you thought you’d seen everything the day you landed, you are not prepared, I swear. All kinds of odd people you will see today, all kinds of odd things going on. The architecture, though crumbling, is beautiful though, isn’t it? God knows how many years these buildings have been here? All arched, and latticed, and filigreed, almost. Yet, no one to take care of them. Well, let us begin at the Red Fort today, stronghold of the Mughal Empire, the penultimate, or perhaps third to last, great city of Delhi, from seven, or nine, or eleven, who can tell? Every little lane here sells something completely different – spices, paper, jewellery, kites, the borders of saris for God’s sake! And oh, food! Now that is here on every corner. You know, the real art is always that of food? The artists all pretend, I feel sometimes, with their paintings. But beware, Delhi’s food is not for the faint-hearted. It is vegetarian, yes, almost all of it, but spiced to a degree you might feel yourself in hell – but give it time, and it’ll be a hell you will crave! Come, let’s have some chole-kulche, and kachori? What about some nagori? Naan-khataai? Topped off with glass of fizzy lemonade?


Did you notice, I wonder, all along your left yesterday, the sequence of buildings we were passing? I’m not sure if such a thing exists anywhere else in the world, but one-by-one, one after the other, neighbouring each other, we passed across a Jain temple, a Hindu temple, a Baptist church, A Sikh Gurudwara, and two medieval mosques! Unbelievable, isn’t it? But let us go the Lodhi Gardens now, yet another of the many Delhis of the past, now converted into a park. The sheer number of monuments Delhi has, really, is staggering. They’re just there. Here, there, everywhere, and often no one looks at them for a second time even, they are so ingrained in the Delhiite’s mind. Well, the Lodhi Gardens are lush, as you can see. Thriving with vegetation. The buildings are all what, a thousand years old? All built of quartzite, grey, with fire inside, quartzite from the ancient Aravalli range of mountains, all but a memory from the past now, mostly. This part of Delhi, as you can see, of New Delhi, is proper New Delhi. I do wish sometimes the rest of it could also look like it. Well, this is where the politicians live, these are ‘their’ gardens, it seems. This, and all around - you may forget you’re in India for a minute or two. My feelings for it are mixed. I do love it – it is beautiful! But so is so much more, if only it were taken care of better, or at all. The taxpayer’s money? Well, this is where it goes, I suppose, to the habitation of the tax-man.


And now that we come to the end of these six days in Delhi, I would like to take you somewhere new today, somewhere you can feel where the city might proceed towards, if tended to carefully. It is a sad fact of this country, as many in the region, that its citizens, if given the choice, will indeed flee it at once. The moral fibre of the nation, once famed, if you delve deep enough, you may not find it too easily today. The fickleness of certain peoples, really, Is unbelievable. And yet, places like these do also exist – like the Red House. May all of Delhi look someday like this? Built progressively of brick, naked brick, and lime, latticed in every pattern? And arched, wherever an arch can fit? There were no plans for this, you know, no architectural blueprints? It was worked upon like a sculpture, with love every day. Come, let us sit in the open courtyard for a while, and let us enjoy the all-embowered-ness of it. Say, would you like some tea perhaps? The smell of the Rangoon creeper is all about us, threatening to make us stay here forever. Ah, look, a band of youngsters have just come in. They’re here for a workshop it seems. They speak in English, though not affected, and are dressed quite fashionably, no? And how beautifully they feel a part of all this? Have they all known each before, do you reckon? Or has this place done something to them? Now this is precious. The sunlight’s so very beautiful. All of life feels so very beautiful. Let us not make haste for tomorrow. This is good!


Well, perhaps a week wasn’t at all sufficient for such a tour, was it? As did Ruskin, I’m afraid I couldn’t quite pick out any very particular works of art for you to consider, but it really is difficult here, this, you know? Art isn’t there anymore, in the obvious sense, anywhere, to look at here. Perhaps it’s everywhere? It’s not quite looked at the same way at all, you see. Things aren’t as classified, as conquered, and as made slaves here of the intellect. They are more to be felt, I feel. More to be sensed by an open heart, than mind. Still, the murmurs of the centuries do reside, as promises of the future. The city continues – God knows how, but it does!  — Say, would you like some mementoes from this trip of ours to keep with you, to take back with you? Let us go once to Dilli Haat before you leave, the bazaar in the heart of this metropolis. You can tell me whatever catches your fancy, alright? It’ll be my gift to you. Oh, how about this gold-embroidered skirt? This indigo scarf? Any of these infinite heavy rugs? Or mango? Oh, yes, mangoes - of hundreds of varieties – the king of the fruits! If you’ve never had them before, you will not perhaps believe how sweet they are, and how in the world such sweetness could ever have been sucked out of the ground? Well, there is something in the soil here, there is indeed. How else could Gandhi have been born here? How else Mahavira, and Buddha? And everything else in existence? But I’m afraid I may have trapped you! Who, in their right mind, could bear to leave these alleyways? These are not the ‘streets’ of Delhi, my friend, but the canvas of an artist. Delhi. The chosen city of the world. The city that the heavens have looted and laid waste, time and again. Delhi alone is the city of love. And I’m an inhabitant of this destroyed garden. — Farewell! We shall see each other again.


The Complete Works of John Ruskin, Library Edition. Volume XXIII, pp. 293-436. Lancaster University. Available online at lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/ruskin/23ValdArno.pdf


The Indian Memorial, Florence - Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones MBE

The Cascine Park in Florence contains an unusual funerary monument to an Indian ruler – Rajaram II of Kolhapur.  The rajah, only twenty years old, died on 30 November 1870 at the Hotel della Pace in Manin Square, Florence.  He was on his way home, travelling through Europe after spending nearly five months in England.   Kolhapur was a small, nominally independent state in the southern Mahratta country, now in Maharashtra.  It was not part of British India although the British government had appointed a Political Agent and the education of the young rajah was being carefully supervised.  If he proved to be an unsuitable ruler, in British eyes, he would have been quietly deposed and a more malleable successor appointed.  But Rajaram developed into a model prince, forward looking, interested in science and the arts, speaking fluent English, writing it fairly well and being generally amenable to Captain Edward West who was appointed as ‘special assistant’ to superintend his education and training.  A Parsi graduate from Bombay University acted as the rajah’s tutor.

Although a practising Hindu, and conscious of his distinguished Mahratta ancestry, Rajaram became anglicised and developed a taste for the society of Europeans.  He would visit the British quarter of Kolhapur and listen to the regimental band playing in the evenings while chatting to people in the audience.  He enjoyed attending dinner parties, and he learnt to dance quadrilles.  It was his meeting in Bombay with Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria’s second son, that first put the idea of a visit to England into the rajah’s mind.  But there were a number of problems that had to be solved first.  Many Hindus would not travel out of India because it meant crossing  the kala pani, the black water, and that meant they would lose caste. Then there was the problem of food – Rajaram would not have eaten at the British dinner parties in Kolhapur unless he brought his own food, prepared by Brahmin cooks.  He had to take a cook and an assistant with him to England and they had to take their cooking pots with them and all the necessary spices too.  The only things that could be purchased abroad were live fowls, eggs and vegetables.

Nevertheless, Rajaram sailed from Bombay in 1870 with Captain West, the unnamed Parsi tutor and 11 native attendants.  The party arrived at Folkestone, on the Kent coast on 14th  June, then took the train to Charing Cross station and from there drove to a rented house near Hyde Park.  The arrangements would have been made by staff from the India Office because this was an important event – the first time a reigning Hindu prince had visited England.  A busy programme was drawn up.  During the first week Rajaram visited Madame Tussauds the wax-works gallery, Trafalgar Square and the Tower of London.  He was greeted warmly at the India Office, the governmental department which had succeeded the old East India Company that had been abolished in 1858.  The Company had established its own museum and the rajah was surprised to see such a large collection of Indian antiquities in London.  Some of his visits were prompted by his own interest in new technology like the lecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic that used magic lantern slides and the electric telegraph office, where messages could be received from India and answered too, all within five minutes. Tourist attractions including the British Museum, the Crystal Palace, Kew Gardens and St Paul’s Cathedral which were all thoroughly enjoyed.  Other events were arranged specifically to show off Victorian England at her best, and by implication, the benefits that India could receive under benevolent British rule.  Rajaram was presented twice to the widowed Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle; he attended the Houses of Parliament, where he saw democracy in action and met the Prime Minister, William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli.  He was invited to a graduation ceremony at Oxford University where the uproarious behaviour of the students astonished him.

It was not all formal visits – the rajah enjoyed the traditional cricket match between Eton and Harrow schools at Lord’s Cricket Ground; he took dancing lessons, played croquet on the lawn of a country house,  and attended the theatre several times to hear Adelina Patti, the celebrated Italian opera singer whom he greatly admired.  He met a number of fellow countrymen who had settled in England, including Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian MP and he visited the maharajah Duleep Singh, whose Sikh kingdom had been taken by the British, and who was now living as a country gentleman in Suffolk.  Rajaram also met the nawab nazim of Bengal, Mansur Ali Khan, who had come to England to appeal against the British government’s seizure of his former stipend, the nizamat fund.  The two men, both Indian rulers in their own right, and both seeking different things, conversed in English in the foreign country that governed their own.  Rajaram showed little insight into his own position and Captain West, who edited his diary after the rajah’s death says that it was simply a day-to-day account of visits and events, rather than an analysis of Indo-British relations or any deep-seated reflections on his own anomalous position.  Indians were still a rarity even in London at the time and when the rajah and his party took a carriage drive in Victoria Park, east London, he noted that ‘the people who were walking in the park were astonished to see us natives and used to make a great noise whenever they saw us’.

After brief visits to Scotland, the Midlands and Ireland, where he was greeted by the Viceroy in Dublin, the group left Dover on 1st November, travelling to Ostend, then through Belgium and into Germany.  The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war meant that France was to be avoided. On 11th November the rajah made the last hand-written entry in his diary – subsequent entries were dictated by him, probably to Captain West.  Two days later Rajaram reported that he ‘had an attack of fever and was very poorly’.  On the following day, 14th November, he could not walk ‘on account of a sight attack of rheumatism’ and had to be carried in a chair to his carriage at Innsbruck.  He seemed to rally as the group arrived in Venice and was carried in a sedan chair to the Doges’ Palace and the piazza St Marco.  In Florence the rajah reluctantly agreed to be examined by an English physician, Dr Fraser – he had brought his own Indian doctor with him – but there was a sudden deterioration in his condition and he died in his hotel suite on 30th November.  The cause of death, without a post-mortem, was given vaguely as ‘abdominal viscera, together with collapse of nervous power’ which doesn’t explain the rheumatic symptoms.  The sad news was telegraphed to the rajah’s family in Kolhapur.

In death rajah Rajaram presented far more problems than he had done in life.  His Hindu attendants insisted that his body be cremated but this was strictly forbidden by the municipality of Florence.  Imprisonment for two years was the penalty for not burying a corpse in a coffin.  Now, by a curious coincidence the question of cremation had been raised a year earlier in Florence, when the city hosted the second International Medical Conference in September 1869 attended by delegates from as far afield as India and America.  During the two-week conference a paper was read by Dr Pierre Castiglioni, who was himself a Florentine. ‘On the incineration of corpses’ was a well-argued if radical idea. Cemeteries had become insalubrious places he said, with the odour from poorly-buried bodies penetrating through urban areas.  Battlefields were also a problem when corpses could not be speedily buried. There were religious objections, Dr Castiglioni said, and technical difficulties too before crematoria had been developed.  But, he concluded, was it not better for mourners to have a ‘handful of dust’ (une poignée de poussière) that was purified, light and without odour, than the thought of a loved one decomposing on a couch of vermin and putrefaction.  This powerful and emotive speech was warmly applauded and the motion carried that cremation was to be preferred to inhumation.  Although it did not become fully legal for another eighteen years, a crematorium was built in Milan in 1876 and Italy was in the forefront of the technical developments with engineers visiting England to advise.  By 1885 the first crematorium had been established at Woking in southern England.

We do not know whether Dr Castiglioni was consulted after the rajah’s death when frantic discussions were held to resolve two opposing ideologies as time ran out. A Hindu cremation normally takes place within 24 hours, for obvious reasons.  The doctor would certainly have supported the cremation and it is possible that it set some kind of precedent as the debate continued in the 1870s.  Clearly it was possible to be both deeply religious and to practice cremation – it was just a different religion to the stern Catholic beliefs prevailing at the time.  Captain West outlined what happened after the rajah’s death had been certified by the local doctor, Enrico Passigli.  Signor Peruzzi, the Syndic of Florence (the chief municipal officer) went immediately to the British Legation to meet Sir Augustus Paget, the British Consul and to discuss the cremation.  Peruzzi, from an old Florentine family of considerable importance brushed aside the objections from ‘other parties’ and overcame them with his ‘well-known sentiments of religious tolerance’.  Arrangements for the funeral procession and the cremation were in place by 1.00 am and the Director of the Municipal Police and the Secretary of the Municipal Sanitary Commission were informed.

The place chosen for the cremation was at the far end of the Cascine Park, on the bank of the river Arno, in a deserted and open esplanade.  Normally the body would have been carried on a bier at shoulder height by four or six men but it was agreed this would attract too much attention,  so a horse-drawn omnibus belonging to the hotel was used.  The rajah’s servants seated themselves inside, facing one another, and supported the plank on which the body lay across their knees.  It was not exactly a dignified exit, but it avoided the body being placed on the floor.  In spite of the early hour and the bad weather a number of carriages and a large crowd had got wind of the event and followed the cortege to the place where the funeral pyre was already piled up. The body was reverently placed on top of the three foot high mound with its face turned towards the east at 1.30 am.  Eyewitness accounts differ on how the rajah was dressed for this final act – some reported large pearl necklaces, gold bracelets and jewels on a turban, although another description of a rich red shawl with borders embroidered in gold sounds more likely.  The head was anointed with ghee and sandalwood and branches of birch trees heaped up.  The whole scene was lit by small paper lanterns carried by the rajah’s servants.  Just before 2.00 am a torch was applied to the pyre and a strong north wind aided the flames.  The Indian servants sat crossed-legged on the ground, praying quietly and bowing towards the pyre.    By 10.00 am on the morning of 1st December, it was finished and the municipal guards helped to collect the fragments of bones and ash and deposit them in a porcelain vase which closed with a red cloth and sealing wax. The pyre site was cleaned and washed and grains of rice scattered on the grass as an offering to the dead man’s soul.

As news of the rajah’s decease spread in Kolhapur, a public meeting was arranged and on 18th  December 1870 a Rajaram Chhatrapati Memorial Committee was set up.  A subscription list was opened specifically to endow the Kolhapur High School with scholarships for the deserving poor.  The late rajah had laid the foundation stone for the school the year before and education for both boys and girls was one of his particular interests. The school was renamed in his honour. 

In Florence, near the site of the cremation, a handsome Indian-style canopy supported on four elaborate pillars covers a fine bust of Rajaram.  The sculptor, Charles Francis Fuller, was a sensitive choice.  Born in Britain, Fuller moved to Florence in the 1850s and was part of a small group of artistic ‘exiles’, happy in their adopted country.  The bust is based on photographs of the rajah taken while he was in London and shows him wearing the traditional Mahratta turban, with a peak on the right-hand side.  According to descriptions of those who met him in England, he was never seen without this turban for it would have been unspeakably rude of him to appear bare-headed in company.  The canopy, based on the Indian chhatri, was designed by Major Charles Mant of the Bombay Engineers.  Mant went on to have an profitable career as an architect in India and he designed a number of palaces for minor royal rulers.  In particular he was commissioned by Rajaram’s successor, Narain Rao, to design a new palace for Kolhapur, which was a fantastic mixture of Indo-Saracenic architecture, bristling with towers, turrets, domes and kiosks, and was completed in 1884.  It is not known who paid for the Florence chhatri and bust, although there is a suggestion it may have been the rajah’s family.   A bridge near the site, opened in 1978 is known simply as the Indian Bridge, a nice tribute to this modest prince who had hoped to introduce new ideas to Kolhapur after his visit to Europe, but who sadly never went home.

Restoration of the memorial, which had deteriorated, began in 2019 and was complicated due to the varied composition and exposure to the elements: crumbling of the marble and sandstone ornaments, disintegration of the face and bust, and losses in the decoration caused by reconstruction efforts using a variety of techniques over time. The monument also presented a worrying structural deficit on one of the cast iron columns supporting the canopy.   The project, now completed, was managed by the city’s fine arts department and cost 240,000 euros.

The restored monument in the Cascine Park

Bust of Rajah Rajaram by Charles Francis Fuller     Rajah Rajaram, from a photograph, 1870

The New Palace, Kolhapur

The Cascine Park and the monument to the Indian Prince, Rajah Chuttraputti of Kolhapur – Amina Anelli

The Cascine Park appears to be the emblematic place to express the spirit of this Conference in which dialogue and restoration are discussed. On the one hand it represents the meeting point of characters from all over the world who ideally meet and converse despite the temporal distances: the Indian Marajah, George Washington, Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale, Filippo Mazzei, Fëdor Dostoevskij, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln. Each of them is remembered and "finds its place" in a piece of our city. On the other side is a monumental park: a multitude of monuments, large and small, which accompanies the visitor on the long journey of over 6 km, from Piazza Vittorio Veneto to the western end where the Piazzaletto dell'Indiano is located. It is a historical and cultural heritage that needs to be preserved and valued. Parco delle Cascine is the largest public park in the city, extending for about 6 km and a half for a width of about 640 meters, running along the right bank of the Arno from the historic center to the confluence of the river with the Mugnone stream. The construction of the park began in 1563 when Alessandro I de' Medici bought the land and reclaimed it to make it a hunting lodge and a farm for the Medici family. With the passage of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from the Medici to the Lorraines, the park becomes a place of recreation and on special occasions it is also open to the public. Starting from 1786, Giuseppe Manetti carried out the first works, commissioned by Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, for the transformation of the estate into a park. With the unification of Italy, in 1861, the Cascine passed to the State property and subsequently, in 1865, they were sold to the Municipality. These were the years in which Austrian domination ended in Italy (1866) with the annexation of the Veneto to the Kingdom of Italy. In Florence, the Habsburg-Lorraine ruled the fate of the Grand Duchy until the unification of Italy, with the interruption of the Napoleonic era (1801-1807). With the plebiscite in 1860 Tuscany was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy. In 1865 Florence took over from Turin as the capital of Italy. In 1871 the capital was transferred to Rome. Kolhapur is a small state in the southern country of Mahratta, India. On the death of the reigning Rajah in 1837, his young son succeeded him with the regency of two women of the family and some state officials. Since 1844 a British government official has always been present to administer the state during the minority of his princes and to perform more purely diplomatic functions. In 1866 the Rahja died childless and adopted his sister's son, a 16-year-old boy, Nagojee Row, on his deathbed. Many of the news relating to his journey can be learned from reading the Diary written by the prince, an interesting reading, at least as a cross-section of the reality of the time. News of his life is given in the introduction and in the appendices of the diary; the image of a thoughtful and kind boy who is surprised by the customs and habits of the countries he visits is restored. In the images published in the diary, the young Indian marahja does not appear to be 20 years old, he looks older. Nagojee Row, born on April 13, 1850, having become the new marahja, received an education based on the English model. He marries two women, one of whom will bear him a daughter who will soon die. The other wife is still a child. He is the first reigning Indian prince to travel to England on a study tour. He met Queen Victoria at Windsor twice, on June 24 and July 6, 1870. He died of illness in Florence on November 30, 1870, during the journey from England which was supposed to bring him back to India. The monument is erected to commemorate the young Indian prince. It is at the point where the Mugnone torrent flows into the Arno river, where the prince's body was cremated. The Mayor of Florence Ubaldino Peruzzi makes it possible for the first time in Florence to practice cremation according to the Hindu rite. The architectural structure is designed by the engineer Captain Charles Mant, while the bust is performed by the English sculptor Charles Francis Fuller. In 1874 the work was completed. In 1897 the first restorations became necessary: "stonemason and bricklayer works" and "varnishing and gilding works", entrusted respectively to Egisto Salvadori and Sirio Bianchi. The monument appears as a canopied structure that rises on a large stone base surrounded by a cast iron railing modeled with vines, volutes, arabesques and floral motifs. On a central base, also in stone with bas-reliefs, stand four twisted cast iron columns which support a dome covered with copper plates. The canopy serves as a casket for the marble bust depicting the prince. Various testimonies, confirmed by diagnostic investigations carried out before the restoration, report that the colored bust was. Four plaques placed on the pedestal of the bust bear an inscription in four languages, Italian, English, Hindi and Punjabi:

The outer metal railing was placed after the construction of the monument (initially it was made of wood) to serve as further protection. The monument was in a condition of general decay. In the two railings there were numerous missing parts and the complete oxidation of the metal. The peeling of the paint, of which only a few traces remained, had led to the oxidation of the metal. In the canopy structure, the worst conditions were found on one of the twisted cast iron columns, which had a deep longitudinal crack and which for this reason had been made safe and supported by a special scaffolding. Two of the cast iron pine cones hanging in the corners were gone. Below the intrados of the dome of the canopy there were horizontal cracks. The stone was in many points disintegrated and in some points pulverized and/or exfoliated or in the detachment phase. Parts of stone frames were missing or detached, many floral decorations (leaf bas-reliefs), the heads of peacocks and many of the decorative volutes. The stone base and the base showed attacks of algae and moss due to the greater exposure to atmospheric agents; even the pedestal of the bust and the bust itself, although more protected from the weather, were in critical condition due to the attack of dust and biological and atmospheric aggressions. A pine tree that fell on the monument in 2005 damaged the dome roof. The restoration work, which began in 2019 and ended in 2020, was carried out aiming at preserving the original characteristics of the work, through the use of materials and techniques compatible with the existing ones, with the aim of restoring adequate legibility to the monument . The restoration of the stone elements (stairs, base, intradoss and extradoss arches, in pietra serena and marble bust) began with the pre-consolidation, in order not to lose precious fragments of the decorated facing, unfortunately in an advanced stage of detachment, especially in the parts subject to water infiltration. Subsequently, the long cleaning process was carried out, with the removal of loose deposits, such as soil and powdery deposits, first and with the application of a benzalkonium chloride-based biocide. The biocide served to disinfest the microflora colonies before their mechanical removal, in order to avoid the volatility and transmigration of the weed spores. Then we proceeded with the removal of coherent deposits, using compresses based on ammonium carbonate and "EDTA" conveyed by cellulose paste and sepiolite where necessary. The incoherent cement grouts were removed using a scalpel and micro chisel. We then proceeded with a double application of ethyl silicate-based consolidator, after having verified, by means of tests and samples, the correct penetration and non-colour alteration. Many fragments were reconstructed, after silicone molding and/or natural hydraulic lime-based grouting. Finally, a transparent, non-film-forming polysiloxane was applied as a final protective agent. The pictorial restoration concerned in particular the intrados of the dome, decorated with ribs in relief with gold leaves on a blue background. After sampling and laboratory analyses, necessary to understand the various interventions carried out over time and the original colours, we proceeded with cleaning and consolidation. The pictorial film, a dry painting (not a fresco), was spread on a plaster-based support. The surface of the film showed both some small cracks and some swelling and exfoliation, especially in the interventions and in the "retouching" of previous restorations. The cleaning was mainly carried out dry, given the chalky component of the support and the fragility of the colour. Particular attention was required to remove the numerous spider nests adhered to the surface with great tenacity, especially in the interstices. The consolidation was achieved with injections of natural lime-based, salt-free consolidating mortar on the back. The chromatic equalization was carried out by applying several glazes with silicate mineral paints added with pigments and earths until the rediscovered tone was achieved. Dry cleaning was carried out on the entire surface with soft brushes and whishab erasers, while the use of micro scalpels was necessary for localized interventions. Thanks to the analyses, cement whitewashing was found, removed and replaced with natural hydraulic lime-based grouting. For the removal of stains, small poultices with a low percentage of ammonium carbonate were applied locally, for brief contact. The restoration of the metal alloys involved the columns and the railings. four cast iron columns are hollow inside, with a thickness of about 2 cm. One of them had a deep longitudinal crack which was initially assumed to be consolidated with the insertion of steel collars. For the consolidation, a more respectful technique of the aesthetic result was subsequently identified, always after having carried out in-depth studies and tests, consisting in the use of carbon fibers applied with epoxy resins. Connection "bows" inside the column were made after drilling, so as to make the mass of cast iron collaborate more and avoid sliding. The geometric conformation of the column and its decoration made it possible to mask the fiber inside the helical groove of the column. The small missing petals were reconstructed, after casting with silicone rubber on the original elements, with pigmented epoxy resin. As well as the petals, two pine cones have also been reconstructed. The internal cast iron railing, enriched by floral decorative elements, after a meticulous sandblasting and cleaning job, was completely consolidated through epoxy resin injections, resin reconstructions, but above all integrations with new brass elements, then painted. To reconstruct these portions, 3D reliefs and prints in plastic material were carried out in order to then be able to work later with the castings.
APPENDICE – Breve contributo sul restauro della fontana dedicata alla Regina Vittoria
La “fontana della Regina Vittoria” si trova in un’aiuola situata ai margini di piazza Vittorio Veneto. E’ realizzata tra il 1897 e il 1900, anno della sua inaugurazione ufficiale, in occasione del sessantesimo anno di regno della Regina Vittoria d'Inghilterra. Voluta dalla comunità britannica fiorentina, è progettata dall'ingegnere Lorenzo Priuli Bon. Il manufatto, realizzato in marmo rosso di Verona, è posto su un basamento di pietra arenaria a gradoni concentrici: “Il pilastro centrale, da cui si dipartono ad una certa altezza le tre vasche poligonali sorrette da colonnini, poggia sulla base di tre gradini sagomati a trifoglio. La fontana si presenta oggi mancante del settore superiore dello stelo centrale (a sezione triangolare e recante sulle facce delle iscrizioni latine), in origine ornato di colonnine tortili e sormontato da una corona in bronzo” (Carlo Cresti). I primi atti vandalici sul monumento, con l’asportazione degli ornamenti metallici, risalgono agli anni della prima guerra mondiale: “In Piazza degli Zuavi, la colonia inglese, a ricordo della permanenza in Firenze dell'amata Regina Vittoria, volle eretta una modesta ma utile fontana, con ornamenti in bronzo e quattro mascheroni da cui l'acqua zampillava per ricadere nella sottostante vasca. Non solo furono divelti tali ornamenti, ma anche gli altri ornamenti metallici, e furono ostruite le bocche d'acqua, per modo che la fontana è ora ridotta ad un arido ed inutile ingombro" (Carlo Papini ,"Arte e Storia" 1919).

Edinburgh – Historic Burial Grounds both as exemplar and at risk - Dr Peter Burman MBE FSA, architectural historian and conservator, Companion of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin

Peter Burman began to be interested in historic burial grounds as a schoolboy exploring churches and churchyards in his native county of Warwickshire. This led him to study History of Art at the University of Cambridge. His first role was as Assistant, Deputy then Director of the Council for the Care of Churches and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. In this role, which lasted for twenty-two years, he and his colleagues were constantly giving advice and grants for the conservation and repair of sculpturally important monuments both within churches and outside churches in the historic burial grounds which typically surround them. He began to work not only with conservators to conserve them but also with craftspeople to ensure that new monuments were beautiful and meaningful.
Later, as Director of Conservation & Property Services of the National Trust for Scotland, he found himself living within the City of Edinburgh World Heritage Site and this encouraged him to take an interest in the five historic burial grounds which are situated there. They are places of memory, but also social places, visited by many who are interested in their heritage and human values. He is fascinated by their artistic and historic interest but also by the role they can play in the contemporary community of a city. In Edinburgh (as in all other cities where historic burial grounds exist) there many aspects which have to be managed: keeping the frequently ambitious architecture of mausolea in good repair through regular maintenance (in Edinburgh they include temple-like mausolea designed by 18th century members of the famous Adam family of architects); walls, often extensive and impressive in character; conservation of sculpture, using materials compatible with the original; drainage; archaeology; wildlife; flowers and greensward. Ideally these historic burial grounds need to be quiet and dignified, and yet at the same time welcoming and safe. Architecture and artistic sculpture, allied with beautiful and characterful lettering, have their part to play, but there is also often a personal response to these landscapes of melancholy beauty.
The challenges of caring for these special landscapes of memory are many and varied but the Edinburgh burial grounds are probably typical of many urban situations: shortage of funds; lack of clarity about the ownership of monuments; neglect (leading to standard conservation problems of soiled stonework; open joints; poor repairs, using cement instead of lime-based mortars; vegetation); vandalism, even theft; legibility of inscriptions; anti-social behaviour; greed of developers on adjacent sites; and so on.
Peter Burman will speak from many years of rich experience of conserving architectural and artistic heritage, and of being joint author with Henry Stapleton of the Churchyards Handbook, which has been through many editions over the years. In his ‘churches role’ he frequently collaborated with experts on tress, mosses and lichen; lettering and sculpture; in the organisation of Churchyard Study Days to introduce local people to the beauties, interests and specialness of their historic burial ground.


23 April, Red House, Delhi

See Francesca Alexander and John Ruskin: Tuscan Folk Tales

Ruskin and his Tuscan Sybil, Francesca Alexander - Emma Sdegno, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia

The book I shall deal with in my paper is Ruskin’s edition of Francesca Alexander’s Roadside Songs of Tuscany issued serially between 1884-1885, the city is the rural place of Cutigliano, a mountain village in the Abetone, in the Tuscan Apennines.1

Ruskin considered Roadside Songs of Tuscany highly and contemporary reviewers defined it as “unique” and “very sumptuous”. The book was conceived after the wreckage of the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871), a conflict that affected Ruskin painfully, which magnified both his personal emotional wreckage, and his lifelong concern for cultural and spiritual legacies. In exploring the book’s its genesis let us follow Ruskin on his penultimate journey on the Continent. On 5 August 1882, five months after suffering his third and most severe attack of mental illness, Ruskin set off, on his doctor’s recommendation, on what was to be his last visit to Tuscany. He was accompanied by his valet and by the young artist W.G. Collingwood. The tour was meant to consolidate hiss recovery and was equally divided, in terms of the time spent, between France (Champagne, Burgundy and the Jura) and Tuscany (Pisa, Lucca and Florence). The French itinerary took him “on the old road”, as Ruskin called it, along the beaten track of places he had visited with his parents and which would be recollected in his autobiography Praeterita (1885-1889). As early as the 1860s Ruskin had planned a series of “Studies in Christian History and Architecture” to be entitled Our Fathers Have Told Us. The work, as Ruskin announced, was meant to study closely - through field work - the power of the Church in the Thirteenth Century”. The only volume of the series to be published was The Bible of Amiens in 1880. The 1882 journey was meant to

go further back in time, in the earlier history of Christianity. Ruskin never accomplished his ambitious project, but his interest in early monasticism proves to be strongly relevant to Roadside Songs of Tuscany.

The story of Roadside Songs of Tuscany begins on 5 October 1882, when Ruskin and Collingwood arrived in Florence and were introduced to the Alexanders, a family of Massachusetts expatriates who had settled in Tuscany in 1853. Francis, a Boston portrait painter, and Lucia Gray Swett, a wealthy woman of aristocratic connections, were part of that large circle of Anglo-American artists living in Florence in the late nineteenth century, and with respect to whom their daughter Fanny must have been quite eccentric. Born in Boston in 1837, Esther Frances, known as “Fanny”, spoke Italian as her second mother tongue. She was particularly and unusually connected with the poorest among the local people, and cultivated her drawing skills in composing precious missal-like sheets of drawings of flowers and folk songs, with the care, the devotion and the restraint of an amanuensis. The Alexanders habitually spent their summer holidays in the Apennines at Abetone, where Fanny established an extraordinarily close, sympathetic relationship with the peasant women of the village. A deeply pious Lutheran Evangelical, Fanny was fascinated by the religious beliefs, traditions, and legends that were transmitted mainly through singing among the contadini. “In these mountains” as Van Brooks puts it “everyone sang, the farmers, the shepherds and the charcoal-burners, who, as they watched their fires at night, kept one another company by singing together and improvising verses”.

Musically gifted herself, Fanny started recording the contadini songs and their tunes in her manuscript. This careful work was intended to be both documentary and artistic, and had philanthropic purposes, as 1 A longer version of this paper is published in “Edited by Ruskin: Francesca Alexander’s Roadside Songs of Tuscany, in 1 The manuscript is now lost, but several leaves are preserved at Girton College, as well as at Oxford and Sheffield, Fanny aimed to sell the manuscript to some American patron and redistribute the money among her poor Abetone friends. Fanny’s interests were, however, more closely intertwined with a bond of solidarity: local people saw her as a “miracle-worker”, who “nursed the invalids [...], sent scrufulous children to the seaside, bought mattresses, dresses and shoes for them and paid their rent when it was overdue”.

A well-known source of Fanny’s knowledge of Tuscan oral culture was Beatrice Bernardi di Pian degli Ontani, an illiterate improvisatrice from whose viva voce Fanny transcribed and translated most of the Tuscan songs, rispetti, and stornelli. A woman in her sixties when Fanny met her, Beatrice was a celebrity in the Florence salotti, although she continued to live a peasant life of hardships to the end. In Roadside Songs Beatrice is given a leading place: her portrait opens the collection and about ten pages are devoted to first-hand details of her biography. Another major source was Edwige Gualtieri, Fanny’s affectionate, pious, and musical housemaid, whose fame is to be wholly due to Ruskin’s edition of Roadside Songs of Tuscany. Fanny meant her collection to be an elegiac monument to a territory and its people, to peasant life, to universal feelings, to orally preserved old music. Her drawings and the poems she transcribed and translated were generated by an intense relationship with the place. Neither a true local nor a

complete foreigner, but a combination of both, Fanny’s enriches the image of her Tuscany with an insider’s understanding, combined with the wonder of an outsider. Her work partakes of that literary interest in folk traditions and songs that had emerged in Italy in the 1840s, when several scholars had started gathering and publishing a substantial corpus of materials and establishing metrical forms and rhymes, variants, and theories as to their origins and paths of transmission. In addition, the British expatriate Ouida had set her novel A Village Commune (1881) in the Abetone, giving in the appendix a documented account of the place and of Beatrice di Pian degli Ontani. All of these works are acknowledged in Roadside Songs of Tuscany.

On 9 October 1882, in hyperbolic terms that recall his descriptions of some revelatory moments in his life – such as his encounter with Tintoretto in the Scuola di San Rocco in 1845 – Ruskin wrote to Mrs Alexander saying that their meeting had marked a turning point in his life: I’ve taken a new pen–it is all I can!–I wish I could learn an entirely new writing from some pretty hem of an angel’s robe, to tell you with what happy and reverent admiration I saw your daughter’s drawings yesterday; – reverent, not only of a quite heavenly gift of genius in a kind I had never before seen, – but also of the entirely sweet and loving spirit which animated and sanctified the work, and the serenity which it expressed in the surest faiths and best purposes of life.

He proposed buying the manuscript, which had proved to be closely related “to [his] work in England”, he would pay the sum that the family had asked for it (600 guineas) and place it in St George’s Museum. His idea was to exhibit the manuscript at Sheffield for the benefit of the Companions of the Guild of St George and of local peasants. To this purpose, he wished Fanny to write “by way of introduction to it – such brief sketches as she may find easy of arrangement of the real people whose portraits are given”. The main object of the sketches would be “the conveying to the mind of our English paesantry (not to say princes) some sympathetic conception of the reality of the sweet soul of Catholic Italy”.

The meeting marked a turning point for Fanny too. The news of Ruskin’s visit and of his interest in her manuscript spread rapidly throughout Florence, and she became a celebrity overnight. In December she wrote to a friend that she felt “temporarily on the list of distinguished people”, that her house had been invaded by “the strangest variety of people [...] of every possible nationality”, asking to see her work in a frenzy of Ruskin emulation.

When Ruskin returned to England in mid November 1882 he was in a state of high enthusiasm over his new treasure, and quickly began disseminating references to Fanny’s work in his lectures. It must have been at this time that he began referring to Fanny in his public writings as “Francesca”. He introduced Francesca’s work on several occasions, arousing considerable interest in his new friend and her work. In June, at Prince of Wales Terrace, Kensington he delivered a private lecture on “Francesca’s Book” before two hundred attendees. Several newspapers reported the event, all claiming to disclose the identity of the mysterious Francesca. All of them variously noticed that the lecturer was “in capital health and spirits”, that the second part was all devoted to “Francesca’s Book”, a work “written and illustrated by a Miss Alexander”, whose original pen-and-ink drawings were shown. A lengthier review in the Spectator of 19 June reported the lecture in greater detail, saying that Ruskin had mentioned some correctable flaws in Francesca’s rendering of the human figure, but expressed his unconditional praise of the strength and delicacy of her flower drawings, which compared only to those of Leonardo da Vinci’s. The association with flowers then had led him to see the folk legends that Francesca had learnt from Beatrice degli Ontani as “the sparks which have kindled her imagination and given life to her skill”, sparks that must have reminded Francesca “in her innocent freshness, of theFioretti which, six centuries ago, gathered round the memory of St. Francis”.

This reference to the Fioretti is interesting and deserves some attention. When the first two issues of Roadside Songs were published in August 1884, Ruskin wrote to Francesca again comparing the work to the Fioretti of St. Francis, and made closer reference to the book’s purpose and to some additional notes he had inserted. “I am very, very happy” he said, “about the form the book is taking – the little supplementary bits, enable me to fit it all together into what will be the loveliest thing ever seen, and to more good than the fioretti di San Francesco”.

Fioretti di San Francesco

Before Paul Sabatier’s 1893 first philological study of the Fioretti, which started the modern scholarship of St Francis, the book circulated in various Italian editions. Throughout his late work he refers to the Fioretti with praise. He thought the Fioretti was a good reading for young English ladies, as evidenced by a letter he wrote on July 1883 to his friend Geraldine Bateman, who wanted to learn Italian. Ruskin sent her a little prayer book in Latin and Italian to start learning Italian, and promised her to send the Fioretti di San Francesco – « which is graceful and simple Italian and full of nice little stories » when she would « get on a little with Italian ». (XXXVII : 462).The gracefulness and simplicity of the Fioretti have been pointed at as the work’s qualities by Francesco De Sanctis who defined it “the most lovable and beloved of medieval children’s books”. 2 The ‘simplicity’ of the Fioretti has been a subject of enquiry and debate, certainly for Ruskin, as well as for De Sanctis, simple and childlike were aesthetic and moral categories that had an educational and formative purpose, and that he found in Giotto’s frescoes that enchanted him in the 1870s. Most of his later works are addressed to young people.

The association of Francesca’s book with the Fioretti might imply more than a general evocative allusion. The connection had been first made at the beginning of June 1883 by Cardinal Henry E. Manning, in his letter of thanks for his copy of The Story of Ida. Concluding her introduction to Francesca Alexander’s The Hidden Servants, Anna Fuller reports the Cardinal’s words: It is simply beautiful, like the Fioretti di San Francesco. Such flowers can grow in one soil alone. They can be found only in the garden of Faith, over which the world of light hangs visibly, and is more intensely seen by the poor and the pure in heart than by the rich, or the learned, or the men of culture.

2 F. De Sanctis, Storia della letteratura italiana, Milano: Feltrinelli, 1964, 110: “Hanno l'ingenuità di un fanciullo che sta con gli occhi aperti a sentire, e più i fatti sono straordinari e maravigliosi, più tende l’orecchio e tutto si beve: qualità spiccatissima ne’ Fioretti di san Francesco, il più amabile e caro di questi libri fanciulleschi”.

Writing to Mrs Alexander on 22 June, Ruskin referred to a letter by Manning he had forwarded to Francesca. Cook and Wedderburn laconically inform us that Ruskin “saw something of Cardinal Manning in his later years” and that “some of the Cardinal’s letters were accompanied by gifts of books such as the Fioretti of St Francis”, but no reference to the gift occurs in the Library edition, nor are we informed that it was Cardinal Manning who first translated and published the Fioretti into English in 1864 under the title of Little Flowers of St Francis. Manning’s reference to the Fioretti in connection with The Story of Ida echoes his own preface to the translation, where he defined the stories of the poor saints collected in the anonymous florilegium, as “admirable poems in prose” which may justly be compared to flowers which give evidence of the season which has brought them forth, but do not reveal the name of the gardener who planted them. Every page of this little book breathes of the faith and the simplicity of the Middle Ages. [...]. Indeed, no one author could have composed this book. Compiled from a variety of sources, it is as if it were the work of a whole century.

In his preface Manning also pointed out that the Fioretti were not to be considered as “superficial trivial sketches, only intended to familiarise the public mind with the austere virtues of the cloister”; rather, the stories, in “their great simplicity”, were “full of strong doctrine, and fitted for men deeply versed in theology”, and provided a typological reading of episodes in the lives of St Louis, of St Clare, and of St Francis, acknowledging the distinguished French scholar, Professor Ozanam as his source.

Manning’s edition was, in fact, greatly indebted to Frédéric Ozanam (1813-1853), a distinguished Catholic scholar who had translated a selection of the Fioretti into French. This constituted a part of his wide literary-historical source study, Poètes Franciscains en Italie au treizième siècle (1852), corresponding to Chapter VII, entitled “Les Petits fleurs de saint François”. Historical and literary studies merged with social engagement in Ozanam, who was also the founder of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. This twofold commitment emerges in his studies of early Franciscan poetry, where the poetical and religious value of poverty are foregrounded. Poverty is also seen as a stylistic cypher by Ozanam, who praises the Fioretti as true poetry and sees prose as the fittest form for telling the epic of the poor. It is no surprise then to discover that, among the altarpieces encountered in his rides through the Umbrian villages, he sought the one in honour of St Zita.

In Roadside Songs Ruskin gives a leading role to St Zita, maid servant and patron saint of Lucca. He places Francesca’s drawings and the “Ballad of Saint Zita” in the first two issues followed by a lengthy note on her hagiography. A series of correspondences encourage us to believe that Ruskin knew Ozanam’s work and thought. A scholar of Medieval poetry of art, and actively engaged in charitable works, Ozaman had all the traits that attracted Ruskin’s interest. Frédéric Ozanam’s work had been introduced into England by Kathleen O’Meara in her biography of 1876. Two years later a second edition of the book appeared with a fifteen-page preface by Cardinal Manning, in which Manning made an outright political statement that was in effect a call to European Christians and to the clergy to carry out their duties. The Cardinal presented Ozanam as “one of the most brilliant of the brilliant band” of nineteenth-century French Catholic writers who had left “an indelible mark upon the country”. His key contribution lay in his proposal for a future republic Commonwealth of Europe, an idea that originated in a ‘fascination’ with medieval culture combined with modern socio-political theories. The questions that Cardinal Manning raised in his Preface were of momentous importance to Ruskin, and we can imagine their emerging in the exchanges between the two friends in the early 1880s. Manning might have been the vehicle by which Ruskin came to know Ozanam by way of O’Meara’s biography, and further echoes in Roadside Songs seem to support this hypothesis. In introducing the Fioretti, O’Meara reports a veiled reference by Ozanam to his wife Adèle – whom he calls his “Beatrice” – and her “delicate hand” in translating the “little flowers”. Interestingly, in reporting these words, O’Meara expands the flower metaphor implied in the Fioretti and defines them as the “fragrant little flowers that grew in the lowly spots along the road”. It is tempting to imagine thatRoadside Songs of Tuscany might have been inspired by O’Meara’s image. This is a reference which would have been particularly appropriate to Francesca, whose “delicate hand” had not only transcribed and translated the poems, but had also illustrated them with her extraordinary flower drawings. The chain of connections and correspondences may be read as constituting a multi-layered flower-and-song association that determined Ruskin’s choice of the final title of the book. As we know the titles of Ruskin’s late works are outcomes of half-obscure, densely personal, highly evocative processes.

The excitement and inadequacy that Ruskin expresses in his letters on Roadside Songs after the summer 1883, when he had conceived the full sense of the project, can be thus related to the complexity of the endeavour and the ‘holiness’ of the Fioretti model. On 1 October from Kenniwe Castle, Galloway, he wrote to Mrs Alexander: “I’ve got type settled, and my own notions a little – but I’m a profane creature to have a charge of such a thing”.

Sometime around 10 May, Ruskin received “Francesca’s Book” from Florence. On the 13th he shared with her his ‘bewilderment’ at its beauty and preciousness, trusting that she would “soon know how precious it [would] become to uncountable multitudes”. He hinted at the need to change the form of the manuscript and, announcing the imminent publication of The Story of Ida, he said that once Ida began to become known he would make “this book” known at Oxford.

The Story of Ida is the first of the works by Francesca that Ruskin published and the one least heavily edited. When Ruskin first saw the manuscript, he was struck by the association between the fragile young Italian girl and Rose La Touche, the young woman he passionately and devastatingly loved, who had died in 1875. But what also struck him was the ecumenical potential of the story, as Francesca reported: He said a good deal about my little story of Ida, which he had just read, and quite took my breath away by proposing to take it away and have it printed. He said it would be a very useful religious book [...] especially from the absence of all sectarian feeling in it, and he seemed much pleased at the strong friendship and religious sympathy between Ida and myself, belonging as we did to two different and usually opposing churches. And in connection with this, he spoke with much sadness of the enmity between different Christian sects, saying that he had known good Christians, in all of them (which is my own experience). The need to bridge the fracture between Protestant and Catholic Churches and overcome what he saw as one of the greatest cultural barriers dividing Europe from England (and dividing England itself), was a strong concern of late Ruskin, and the potential he found in the work of Francesca, a pious American Evangelical woman who collected the religious poems of Catholic contadini, became gradually clearer. At this stage, the idea of keeping the manuscript at St George’s Museum had given way to the prospect of a – possibly imminent – publication of the work. In the meantime, he had received from Francesca the “short biographical sketches”, which were to accompany the drawings. Although not completely defined as yet, the idea of a serial publication was also taking shape. On 24 October 1883 Fanny wrote to her friend Lucy Woodbridge: “As nearly as I understand, some part of the book of the Roadside Songs is to be printed in numbers, but I do not know how much, nor when it is to appear”.

The ten issues of Roadside Songs of Tuscany appeared between April 1884 and August 1885. Ruskin worked intensely on one issue at a time, gaining the attention of the public step by step. Each of the thin issues was composite, consisting of 25-30 pages of heterogeneous materials: a number of folk songs, two drawings and the prose sketches of the peasants by Francesca, and some Editor’s notes. By December 1884, four issues had come out, meeting with puzzled reviews in the newspapers, which experienced difficulty in framing it. A lengthy piece in The Evening News and Star of that November foresaw that “when completed” the work would be “probably unique in the world of art and letters”.

When the whole book appeared, in September 1885, in the shape of a 340-page folio hardback volume, it was greeted as a “very sumptuous book” whose socio-historical interest to the British public was, according to the reviewer, jeopardized by the hardly accessible format. In the course of editing Ruskin had completely rearranged Francesca’s manuscript, selecting from among the drawings and folk songs and changing their order, so as to place first the Ballad of Santa Zita, instead of the two religious hymns that opened the manuscript, and close the book with a version of the legend of St Christopher he had expressly asked Francesca to transpose into prose to make the story clearer.

The central section included two long religious songs – The Madonna and the Rich Man and The Madonna and the Gipsy – and Francesca’s drawing of Christ and the Woman of Samaria accompanied by a translator’s note. These texts formed the backbone of the collection, what we might call its Christian framework, and were built around Francesca’s drawings. Ruskin assigned great importance to the people who had sat for the drawings, the “originals” – as Francesca called them – of the Madonna, the Samaritan, St Christopher and the Gipsy. He saw a resonance in their lives with

the episodes and legends from the Gospel of which the songs speak. He thought of their stories as newFioretti, stories of poor, everyday saints, survivals of that monastic spirit he had been on the track of for some years. This is suggested by the Editor’s preface to the first issue, where he informs the reader that Francesca had chosen her models because they shared some “circumstances and habitual tone of mind” with the figures of the saints they represented.

Originally intended just to complement the drawings, the sketches of the peasants’ lives in fact constitute the larger part of the complete work: 136 of 340 pages, about two thirds of the whole book. Their prominence is ensured by an index of twenty-one names that opens the volume, in which are listed the “Persons whose characters are sketched, or some account given of passages in their lives, in illustration of the songs of Tuscany”. The sketches are given “in Francesca’s own colloquial, or frankly epistolary, terms, as the best interpretation of the legends revived for us by her, in these breathing images of existent human souls”. Ruskin insists on the correspondence between painted and living characters, who are said to be embodiments of the characters of the ballads, the model of Santa Zita, the saint servant, was actually a « perfect dutiful and happy farm servant », who has in reality worked without wages, and the gypsy is really a girl of gypsy blood who had actually rescued a young boy when all the women had withdrawn. Ruskin states the direct closeness between character and model, as if the drawings were actually the evidence of the truthfulness of the stories told in the poems. This is why he asks Francesca to give some biographical details of the models, i.e. the peasants. These now accompany the poems and, for Ruskin, are more important than the book they illustrate. The biographical « bits » are « portions of life », which he keeps in the free colloquial style of the letter as the best interpretation of the legends in this « breathing images of existential human souls ».– (Works XXXII, p. 54).

However, in Roadside Songs the association between a saint and her/his “original” turns out to be far from systematic; sometimes it is only hinted at, a mere suggestion, and sometimes it is abandoned in favour of another character who in the picture appears dimly and at a distance. Francesca tells us in a confident and assertive narrative voice about Gigia, Lucia Santi, Geminiano Amidei, Emilia, Paolina, their brothers, mothers, sisters-in-law, neighbours, donkeys: in effect recreating a whole community. “However”, she writes at one point, “I am not writing a history of Cutigliano, but of Assunta, who lived in one of its steep narrow streets, just flights of low steps, but with beautiful gardens between the old houses, and roses and jessamines hanging over their walls”. Ruskin the teacher and mentor who educates Francesca’s drawing skills, gives her also the status of narrator, encouraging her to write a wealth of stories which was to overflow into the subsequent collection of stories published serially as Christ’s Folk in the Apennine (1887-1889).

Such prose sketches occur in issue after issue of Roadside Songs. This creates the effect of a community of people with whom British readers become familiar gradually, as with characters in Victorian serial novels. They also interlace with the group of texts of rispetti – shorter songs composed of hendecasyllabic lines,– and stornelli, short, proverbial, three-line songs each focusing on a flower (e.g. “Flower of the Pea”, “Flower of the Maize”). Francesca’s drawing – “sincere and true as the sunshine; industrious, [..]; modest and unselfish, as ever was good servant’s work for a beloved Master” – seize and render those correspondences with “candour and lack of ostentation”. Interestingly, the ballads and songs that are reported and translated all treat of encounters between strangers: the Madonna and the rich man, the Madonna and the gipsy, as well as the drawing of Christ and the woman of Samaria. Moreover, all the figures involved in these encounters are women, as models of benevolence and acceptance, and to womanhood, in the collection, Ruskin attributes a “guiding power”.

Ruskin’s editorial intervention is massive. He organizes the work in such a way as to give prominence to the Christian frame and to the peasants’ portraits and lives, adding substantial notes to orient the texts and make the discourse relevant to contemporary Britain within the broader Continental context. The long “Note on the Gipsy Character” is a tough attack against British intolerance, where Ruskin points at the “much happier wisdom” of the Italian peasantry to show “how deeply and cruelly the scorn of the Gipsy race had infixed itself in the minds of the prosperous middle classes of our own island, at the beginning of the century”, referring to the 1797 entry in the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Coinciding with the birth of the interest in peasantry from the 1870s, Roadside Songs of Tuscany was perceived as a composite work whose ethnographic interest was soon acknowledged. In assembling its texts and images, Ruskin performed a complex act of cultural mediation by means of multiple processes of translation. In order to convey the sense of a whole culture that was disappearing, he employed a variety of materials to represent that “space of reality”. He exploits various forms of translations, ranging from the interlinguistic one (Tuscan-English) to the intersemiotic – involving music, drawing, biographies, editor’s notes - in order to attempt to represent that “space of reality”. If translation is a fundamental means of cultural transmission, the use of heterogeneous materials proved functional to get a sparkle of that world: it is an “inevitable fact” says Lotman, “that the space of reality cannot be represented by a single language but only by an aggregate of languages”. 3 (Lotman, Culture and Explosion, 2009 , p. 2). This is the complex editorial work that produced the “sumptuous” book out of Francesca’s delicate fioretti. Ruskin’s intervention thoroughly reshapes and transforms the original manuscript, in order to let his ‘dramatis personae’, the peasants’ voices and shapes, take the scene. The book closes with two sections of letters from Francesca telling other stories reported by her maid Edwige, about women and children, on family life and mutual help, poverty and charity. The volume ends with the evening prayer that, Francesca assures in a note, all peasants sing to their children. It is an appropriate ending for a book which was not intended to be a monument of an idealised view of rural life, but a memorial of living Tuscan peasants that aimed to rekindle, in modern Britain, that mysticism of everyday life which Ruskin saw as the core of the legacy of early monasticism he was searching for at the start of his 1882 journey.

3 J. Lotman, Culture and Explosion, 2009 , p. 2

Masculinisation of the ‘Motherland’: Analyzing Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and the World through an Ecofeminist Lens - Pritha Chakraborty

The paper aims to deal with the concept of ‘Motherland’ as perceived in the text of Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and the World. It aims to scrutinise the concept of ‘home’ and the ‘world’ and how it directly impacts the women of the nation. It aims to bring out the hypocritical ideologies of the nationalist in the wake of India’s freedom struggle movement. It shows how nineteenth-century Bengal saw the emergence of fanatic nationalists who created an image of the nation as a Motherland and inscribed the name ‘Bharat Mata’ associated with the landmass. Ironically, it was this motherland that was systematically eroded on the basis of religious bigotry, communalism and a fanatic cry of the Nationalists who worked in the policy of inclusion and exclusion of the members of the nation. The criteria for belonging to a nation were based on cultural assimilation, common tradition, language, and so on. In India, the concept of nationalism was built on Vedic civilization which claimed that India is a nation for Hindus and by Hindus. It is this systematic exclusion of certain members of society from the nation-building process that is questioned and reinterrogated. On the one hand, women were given the status of Goddess and ‘Shakti’ and on the other hand, it was this ‘Shakti’ that was infringed and violated in the hands of masculine powers of the state who wanted the nation to be built as per their own ideologies. Using Vandana Shiva’s concept of ‘Masculinization of Motherland’, it aims to show how the nation was shifting to ‘fatherland’ from the so-called idolized mother-worship of the nation as all the powers of the nation-building process were laid in the hands of the fanatic men who attempted to defend mother lands’ honour.
The paper shows Bimala, the female protagonist of the novel torn between the ideologies of the nineteenth-century ‘Bhadra Mahila’ concept and the association of her womanhood with ‘Mother India’. Nineteenth-century Bengal was in the process of enlightening their women with western education and by the middle of the century, Indian nationalism began to feel a sense of superiority among their women and wanted them to withdraw from the world and bring their entire attention to their household. In a similar context, Kundamala Debi had advised women: “If you have acquired real knowledge, then give no place in your heart to memsahib-like behaviour. This is not becoming in a Bengali housewife. See how an educated woman can do housework thoughtfully and systematically in a way unknown to an ignorant, uneducated woman. And see how if God had not appointed us to this place in the home, how unhappy a place the world would be.” (qtd in Chatterjee 129). A similar idea was rooted in Bimala’s ideology. Her ideology of womanhood was associated with ‘female virtues’. She considered the duties towards her husband Nikhil as her sole motif of life and worshipped him. She comments that when she would take the dust of her husband’s feet without waking him, at such moments she could “feel the vermilion mark upon her (my) forehead shining out like morning star” (20). This shows her as directly attached to the concept of ‘homely’ women.
However, later in the novel, the emergence of Sandeep as a nationalist leader intrigues Bimala. His enthusiastic words on claiming the nation from the clutches of western power motivate Bimala to side with him. Further, his tagging of her as ‘Queen Bee’, and ‘Mother Goddess’ become problematised in the concept of nationhood. Bimala is easily awestruck at the charismatic voices of freedom that Sandip aims to achieve in the name of Swadeshi. He claims, “You are the Queen Bee of our hive, and we the workers shall rally around you. You shall be our centre, our inspiration” (47). Bimala gets enchanted by the notion of freedom which not only concerns the land but her own self. Her door to freedom was opened by his husband himself, who wanted her to open her mind and seek her own individuality.
Sandip with his poetical oration translates the politics of Swadeshi into her being and builds a pedestal of her linking her with the image of divine Shakti around whom the world would revolve. He symbolically relates the emerging land with the power of Shakti and hails the nation as ‘Bande Mataram’. However, ‘Hail Mother’ becomes a multi-layered phrase for him to entrap Bimala in the pseudo-freedom struggle of the nation. The nationalist struggle for freedom becomes a male endeavour where in the words of Vandana Shiva, “A politics of exclusion and violence is built in the name of nationalism. Masculinization of motherland thus involves the elimination of all associations of strength with the feminine and with diversity” (111). In the nationalist discourse, like the women of the times, the land is perceived as the ‘other’ which needed protection from her ‘virile sons. Such protection is provided by masculine figures through the medium of violence and armed conflicts. Tagore saw nationalism as the brainchild of the West which was organised by some self-interested agendas of fanatic people who wanted to exploit all other communities for their own selfish gains. Shiva notes, “Hindutva, it is being repeatedly stated, is the ideology of a modernising India. Yet, as they are unfolding, liberalization and modernization are based on breaking all links with the motherland. Musicalisation of the motherland results in the disappearance of the motherland from the hearts and minds of the people” (111).
The novel clearly seems to portray the nation as an object that needs to be looted and snatched and won by force. Sandeep is the embodiment of such violence where the nation becomes a mere thing to be plundered to attain its freedom, which is in sheer contrast to the ideology of his friend, Nikhil, who believes in an all-inclusive nation which is not divided or violated on the basis of aggressive nationalism, as he claims, “Use force? But for what? Can force prevail over Truth? (100) Nikhil’s honesty and idealism are contrasted with Sandip’s cunning, and flagrant narcissism. As per his Machiavellian ideologies, “There is no time for nice scruples…We must be unswervingly, unreasoningly, brutal. We must sin” (50). Nation, therefore, becomes an embodiment of a woman who is overpowered by masculinity and is snatched of her ideal womanhood by leading her towards the path of infidelity. As Paola Bachetta notes that for two of India’s spiritual leaders, Rama Krishna and Aurobindo, mother as a symbol of the country was charged with love for all their children, in all its diversity. However, Hindutva Bharat Mata had to be ‘rescued’ by her ‘virile sons’ who use means of deceit, and illegal means and further the concept of colonialism in achieving their end. Sandip is so atrocious and greedy in accumulating material wealth in the name of building up a nation that he does not hesitate to encourage his own friend’s wife to rob her own husband for the sake of the benefit of the nation. Tagore in this context termed nation-building as the biggest evil to the civilization since it is based on power dynamics and coercion that merely focuses on amassing wealth and manifesting terror on innocent individuals of the nation.
           Nineteenth-century India was based on hegemonic masculinity where men’s honour was significantly related to their proof of hegemonic masculinity. This includes maintaining their chivalry and honour by limiting the boundary between the women and the nation and enabling them to function as per the instruction manual of the men and the powerful politics revolving around them. Peterson notes, “Motherland is a woman’s body and as such is ever in danger of violation- by ‘foreign’ males. To defend her frontiers and her honour requires relentless vigilance and the sacrifice of countless citizen warriors…” (80). In this context, it can be noted that Sandip’s approach and his false oratory speeches in order to instigate Bimala towards violating her own ‘home’ stands in paradoxical contrast to the motive of freeing the country from the clutches of colonialism.
Benedict Anderson notes that a nation is an ‘imagined community’. It clearly advocates the fact that a nation subscribing entirely to dominant ideologies and beliefs and sustaining the system of inclusion and exclusion is bound to be an imaginary endeavour and nothing concrete is expected to be drawn out of it. Sandip’s cry of nationalism remains a void cry devoid of devotion and based solely on personal gains. His theory of boycott of foreign goods and forcing the innocent village people to give up their trade was a source of outrageous violence in the name of freeing the country from the foreign rule. His concept of nationalism was pretentious and became harmful to the Hindus and Muslims of the nation. He had provoked the youths of Nikhil’s village to impose violence against the poor, innocent neighbours so that they are terrorised into accepting his own concept of a nation. As noted by Leonard A. Gordon, “The Indian nationalist movement as it developed in Bengal during the last quarter of the nineteenth century was dominated by high-caste Hindus... but the Muslims in Bengal lagged behind the Hindus in education, the professions and the government services. Most of the Muslims were lower-class cultivators in the eastern districts of Bengal proper” (278). Whereas for Nikhilesh, the idea of Swadeshi involved the inclusion of all the communities of the nation, Sandeep’s religious-centric idea and further exclusion of a certain section of people from joining hands in freeing the motherland served as a failure of the nationalistic project. Anita Desai in this context points out that Sandip “resembles nothing so much as the conventional blackguard of the Indian stage or the Bombay cinema, stroking his handlebar moustache as he gloats over a bag of gold and a cowering maiden” (55).
Bimala’s body thus stands as a site of war and a possession to be looted and plundered in the name of saving the nation. Claiming her through false oratory speeches acts as a means of exploitation of the gender. Representation of her as ‘Mother Goddess’ makes her think that it is her duty to protect the nation’s honour. The eroticisation of nation with regards to women’s body not only place them within the idea of national but also make them the bearers of cultures and therefore more vulnerable to violence. Their inclusion in the conflict serves as a means of influencing the future generation and involving them in the fanatic cry for the liberation of the nation. Mrinalini Sinha mentions that women are burdened to balance the “in-betweenness” (22) of precolonial tradition and postcolonial modernity. They are expected to seek modernity in the guile of tradition where she acts as the upholder and preserver of culture. Bimala is seen to be the keen upholder of this tradition where her preference for home is a paradigmatic presentation of the harmony that she seeks through the devotional aspect of womanhood. Her story starts with her dedication towards her home and ends in reversion to the ways of the home after she sees through Sandip’s evil motives.
The whole idea of belonging to a nation becomes gendered where men are expected to be masculine and show masochistic traits in saving the nation whereas women are supposed to be sacrificial, faithful and pure. In Burdens of Nationalism, Uma Chakravarti mentions how in Sri Lanka, men were the ones participating in armed conflicts whereas women were expected to attach sentimental values and grieve for the loss. The creation of the idea of women as Mothers has attached the concept of reproduction to them where they are bound into a heterosexual construct that only subordinates them. Though Bimala as a dutiful and responsible wife got attracted to the seduction of Sandeep and his comparison of her with the Mother Goddess, rises her to a pedestal where she is inspired to coax her own husband to adopt the violent means and support Sandeep in burning the foreign goods in favour of uplifting swadeshi goods, she is torn between the ‘home’ and the ‘world’ where it is her ‘zenana’ that she connects herself with and wants to return to until it is too late and Nikhilesh gets caught up amidst the turbulent violence in the nation. It therefore, signifies that in the name of nation and nationalism, women are caught in between the fervour of men’s politics where she remains a puppet in their hands just as the country is bound to suffer at the hands of violent politics as Maria Miles notes, “Since the beginning of modern nation-state (the fatherlands) women have been colonized. This means the modern nation-state necessarily controlled their sexuality, their fertility and their work capacity or labour-power. And it is this colonization that constitutes the foundation of what is now being called ‘civil society’. The militarization of men in the name of nation-building not only hits women of other communities but also the female of one’s own community” (27). 
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s cry for independent India through the national song of ‘Bande Mataram’ in his famous novel Anandamath (1882) where the Motherland is praised to its utmost for being the bearer of rich culture and heritage, systematically shifts to ‘father state’ through the turn of the century when ‘Motherland’ which initially referred to Bengal, shifted to India and the country got ‘raped’ in the name of nationalism. The rich cultural heritage of the nation got divided between different communities when seeds of communalism started to infringe on the nation with the division of Bengal in 1905 where the largely Muslim eastern areas were separated from the largely Hindu western areas. Nikhilesh as the spokesperson of Tagore in the novel, speaks about the union of Hindus and Muslims in the fight against colonialism as against Sandeep’s view of excluding the Muslims from the nationalistic endeavours, as according to him, Bengal stood only as the land of the Hindus. Such polarization of the nation in the name of bigotry and religion led to the further disintegration of a ‘motherland’ where warfare constituted the creation of a masculine country devoid of humanity and devotion. Tagore in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech notes, “We must discover the most profound unity, the spiritual unity between the different races. Man is not to fight with other human races, other human individuals, but his work is to bring about reconciliation and Peace and restore the bonds of friendship and love” (Arun).
In the name of nationalism comes the destruction of the land from where thousands are uprooted, the land witnesses communal violence, mass murder, death of innocent people and division of the nation in the name of religion. In a similar context, Shiva notes, “Maldevelopment is seen here as a process by which human society marginalises the play of the feminine principle in nature and in society. Ecological breakdown and social inequality are intrinsically related to the dominant development paradigm which puts man against nature and women” (46). The extremist mode of boycotting British goods resulted in great hardship for rural petty traders and peasants most of them who were Muslims and low-caste Hindus. Tagore’s construction of Chandranath Babu in the novel was based on the figure of Ashwini Kumar Dutta of Bengal whose support for rural development was strongly admired by him.
The eroticisation of the Nation with the lover becomes the most disturbing aspect of the novel. Sandeep pulls lover and motherland together; Bimala and the Country become one. As Tanika Sarkar in her work notes, “The emotion that animates both, and the emotion that they evoke, are clearly erotic…The mother protects, the mistress leads to destruction” (35).
Though the novel is about politics which is about the devotion to the Motherland and the call for ‘Bande Mataram’ which signifies a salutation to the Motherland, there is no single mother in the text nor is the real devotion towards any female character visible. It is this ironic promise of development of the nation through the means of loot, snatch, fake devotion and force that the novel critiques. In a similar context, Shiva comments, “…by the name of development, is a maldevelopment process, a source of violence to women and nature throughout the world. This violence does not arise from the misapplication of an otherwise benign and gender-neutral model but is rooted in the patriarchal assumptions of homogeneity, domination and centralisation that underlie dominant models of thought and development strategies” (44).
Therefore, by bringing the marginalised women to the forefront, it is an attempt on the part of the novelist to preserve the ‘Mother Land’ which requires love, care and humanity and bring it back from the clutches of masculine endeavours. Bimala’s return to her husband at the end of the novel symbolises in a way the rootedness of the feminine principle in the context of the nation and the development of the land that entails through the process as Vandana Shiva in her words notes, “Their voices are the voices of liberation and transformation which provide new categories of thought and new exploratory directions…experience shows that ecology and feminism can combine in the recovery of the feminine principle, and through this recovery, can intellectually and politically restructure and transform maldevelopment” (45).

Arun, “The Noble Prize Acceptance Speech”. Literature Worms, https://www.literatureworms.com/2012/06/nobel-prize-acceptance-speech-by-tagore.html#, Accessed on 20 March 2023.
Basu, Sanjukta. “Gender, Sexuality and Nation- Tagore’s Ghaire Baire (Home and the World). This is My Truth, 18 May 2020, https://sanjukta.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/gender-sexuality-and-nation-rabindranath-tagore-ghare-baire-home-and-the-world-ignou-assignments-mawgs/
Chakravarti, Uma. “Wifehood, widowhood and adultery: Female sexuality, surveillance and the state in eighteenth century Maharashtra”. Of Property and Propriety: The Role of Gender and Class in Imperialism and Nationalism, The University of Toronto Press, 2001.
Chatterjee, Partha. The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial History. Princeton UP, 1993.
D, Dipanshi. “Tagore on Freedom and Critique of Nationalism”. Academia, n.d.
Gordon, Leonard. “Divided Bengal: Problems of Nationalism and Identity in the 1947 Partition”. India’s Partition : Process, Strategy and Mobilization, edited by Mushirul Hasan, Oxford UP, 1993.
Mies, Maria and Vandana Shiva. Ecofeminism. Zed Books, 1993.
Peterson, V. Spike. “Gendered Nationalism: Reproducing Us versus Them”. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, vol. 9, no.1, pp. 77-83.
Sarkar, Tanika. “Many Faces of Love, Country, Women and God in The Home and the World”, The Home and the World: A Critical Companion, edited by P.K. Dutta, Permanent Black, 2003, pp. 27-44.
Shiva, Vandana. Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India. Indraprastha Press, 1988.
Sinha, Mrinalini. Colonial Masculinity: The ‘manly’ Englishman and the ‘effeminate Bengali’ in the late nineteenth century. Manchester UP, 1995.
Tagore, Rabindranath. The Home and the World. Penguin Classics, 2005.

The Florentine Marzocco lion in minor fourteenth-century political and civil poetry of the Tuscan area, similarities with the Indian context - Marialaura Pancini

Since ancient times, the lion has exerted a certain fascination in the human imagination, becoming the object of an innumerable series of similarities, metaphors and symbolic images that cross cultures, geographical areas and eras.
If we observe the panorama of minor fourteenth-century political and civil poetry in the Tuscan area, we can see that the lion as a symbol of the city of Florence is very present in the thematic repertoire of Tuscan rhymers, especially Florentines. The purpose of this presentation is first of all, thanks to the use of concrete texts relating to the genre of minor fourteenth-century political and civil poetry of the Tuscan area, to outline what is the consideration that one has of the lion and the symbology that is linked to this animal in this historical and geographical context. Secondly, the similarities between the image of the lion in the medieval Florentine Tuscan context and the symbolism that the Indian context attributes will be highlighted.
At this point it seems necessary to state that we are dealing with an arbitrary selection of texts, made on the basis of the criterion of heterogeneity, representativeness and breadth of the subject; in fact, we have chosen to give greater importance to the texts in which extensive reference is made to the
the Florentine Marzocco lion. In order not to be too long-winded and not stray too far from the Florentine focus of the presentation and conference, we will avoid mentioning all the cases - even if these are numerous - of brief and insignificant references to the lion as metaphors, gnomic phrases, etc. which have no real thematization in the text, but are only fixed popular constructs.
We will therefore examine a series of concrete cases in which reference is made to the lion as a symbol of the city of Florence represented by the Marzocco lion.

The sonnet The lion of Florence is improved is written on the occasion of Florence's purchase of Arezzo.
The anonymous sonnet plays with the heraldic animals present in the banners of the Tuscan cities and hides, behind apparently zoological references, the narration of the political events of those last few years. The first quatrain, through the animal symbol of Florence, the marzocco lion, now «improved» v.1 after «a long time he was ill» v.2, describes the past of the city of Florence. The city, after the defeats suffered by the Ghibelline Pisa of Uguccione della Faggiola (1315) and after the period of the unsuccessful lordship of Charles, Duke of Calabria (1325), at this chronological height resumed its policy of expansion towards the neighboring areas, Arezzo is just one of these. The quatrain in question exalts the conquest of the city of Arezzo, represented by the "unbridled horse" characteristic element of the Arezzo banner, through this action the city of Florence sees its lordship, its power over Arezzo fulfilled. It also alludes to the fulfillment of a prophecy «which Daniello had prophesied» v. 8 and which is now «all fulfilled» v. 7. The verses could refer to the book of Daniel, in which a dream is described, where four beasts are the protagonists, the first beast has the shape of a lion with eagle's wings, the second beast has the shape of a bear, the third a leopard, the fourth it is a beast without a precise real referent, it has many horns and destroys everything it finds. The fourth beast is "killed and its body destroyed and thrown to burn on the fire. The other beasts were deprived of power and allowed to prolong their lives until a fixed term of time. . According to the interpretation, which follows in the book, the four beasts represent four kings who succeed each other over time, although the first beasts represented in the book of Daniel, the lion and the bear, find correspondence with the verses, however, the thematic connection remains rather obscure , it is therefore certainly not the reference. In the tercet that follows, reference is made, through their heraldic animals, to the Tuscan cities that remained to watch the growth of Florentine power. Siena is represented as a "flayed" wounded wolf v. 9 and Pistoia as a «Bear» v. 9, both affected by the «branch» v. 10 of the Florentine lion, who appropriated the city of Arezzo, and also with this gesture put the other beasts to flight or made the other Tuscan cities retreat from their expansionist and power positions in the area, demonstrating his leonine strength. In the last quatrain the theme of Daniello's prophecy of v. returns. 8, this will come true if the Florentine lion continues to make a "purse" of skins "cuoi" v. 13 of the animals that represent the Tuscan cities, if therefore the city of Florence will assert its hegemony over Tuscany. The cauda is a warning, placed in proverbial form, that
suggests to beware of people who have been in a hurry to commit wrongs, because in a short time they will present their revenge. This gnomic conclusion could be addressed either to the city of Florence itself, inviting it to remain vigilant about a possible revenge of the Tuscan cities, or it could also refer to the revenge that the Florentines implemented, after the defeats suffered in the early years of the century by the Ghibelline bastions Uguccione della Faggiola and Castruccio Castracani.
Precisely following the purchase of Arezzo by Florence in 1385 Antonio Pucci and Franco Sacchetti, Florentine authors very active in the political scene of their city, exchanged a duel in commentary on the affair. The first to start the correspondence was Antonio Pucci, who wrote and addressed the sonnet The veltro and the bear and the wild horse to Franco Sacchetti. The sonnet is very reminiscent of the previously analyzed text Il lion di Firenze, where the references to Tuscan cities are all expressed through the animal symbols of these. In the first quatrain, Pucci describes the situation of alliance «parentado» v. 2 between Volterra: the veltro, the she-bear: Pistoia and the unbridled horse, or Arezzo, and Florence: the lion. The lion of Florence also uses the same references for Pistoia and Arezzo «l'Orsa» v. 9 and «the unbridled horse» v. 4. Pucci concludes the quatrain by recalling Pisa: the fox; the bull: Lucca; Siena: the she-wolf and the griffin from Perugia some of these cities that he mentions are little disturbed by the growth of Florentine power, others, on the other hand, are "very much" see. 4. The second quatrain focuses entirely on a reference to the past times of the war between Florence and Pisa for the capture of Lucca in 1342. There is in fact a direct speech pronounced by the same Pisan fox which recalls the «tencione» v. 6 had with the Florentine lion because «against reason» see. 7 Pisa «wanted to take […] / the bull» vv. 7-8. The reference to the intrusion without having the right of Pisa in the sale of Lucca also returns in the other texts by Pucci where the story is treated. Then follow the speeches of the other animals mentioned that represent the cities: the she-wolf Siena, who expresses her doubts regarding the origin of her bad relationship with the Florentine lion. The griffin of Perugia, on the other hand, expresses his joy at always being a "friend" v. 13 of the Florentine lion, the reference, as Ageno also points out, could probably be to the War of the Eight Saints during which Perugia rebelled against the abbot Géraud Dupuy, papal vicar in the administration of the city subjected to papal dominion. In fact, Pucci himself describes in detail the rebellion of the city and the expulsion of Dupuy in his Cantare della Guerra degli Etto Santi, Franco Sacchetti also refers to Dupuy as the «porco monacese» v. 127 in his song Hercules formerly of Libya still shines. In conclusion, Pucci turns to the other poet and asks his opinion on the question just discussed. Franco Sacchetti responded in kind to his friend's solicitation and expressed his opinion with Se nella leonina ov'io son nato , taking up Pucci's sonnet and referring to Florence as «quella leonina» v. 1 where the same author was born. However, his response is very critical of the Florentine attitude. In fact, Sacchetti accuses Florence of not being governed in such a way as to be able to guarantee the well-being of its citizens, who on the other hand have always proved to be loyal to her. Sacchetti directly accuses the city of not reciprocating its fellow citizens with the same love that they have shown it in the past. According to the author this is the reason why the other cities «every animal you have narrated» v. 5 they refrain from submitting to the city of the lily «it would come under the flourishing flagpole» v. 6, as regards the use of the adjective florid, beyond the reference to prosperity there could be an etymological reference with the name of Florence, this adjective is also used by Sacchetti in other contexts always referring to Florence. In the second quatrain, Sacchetti further clarifies the reason for his resentment towards Florence: of dishonest and uncivilized people «villain kings» see. 7 through lies «with false sermon» v. 7 are moving further and further away from the moral example of the famous «Brutus, Scipio and Cato» v. 8, it is no coincidence that three Roman authors are mentioned, in fact in this chronological period the exaltation of the Florentine romanitas is widespread, which draws its basis from the Fiesole origins of the city and sees Florence as the new Rome. The tercets show a crescendo of the poet's desperation which refers in the first tercet to the Catholic creed, «no one knows grace from Him / who always keeps a pious mind in it» vv. 10-11. This pair of verses appears mirrored in the structure in vv. 1-4, in this first quatrain Sacchetti accuses Florence of ingratitude towards the citizens who prove faithful to her, likewise in vv. 10-11 Sacchetti accuses with a generic «none» v. 10 not to show gratitude towards the one who constantly "ignores" v. 11 takes into account the city: God. In this case there is a reversal with the narration that Sacchetti himself makes, about a decade earlier (1375-1378) of the city during the war of the Eight Saints, where Florence is always faithful to the divine and to its precepts and assumes the role, steeped in biblical sense, of shepherd and guide of rebel cities fleeing from erring ecclesiastics with respect to divine values compared to the Pharaohs. In the last tercet, as in the last quatrain, the reference to the betrayal of the Florentine romanitas returns. In fact, characters such as Cicero, Curio and Silla, cited par excellence, are silent and absent, who governs now, in fact, does not boast a known ancestry. In this regard, Ageno points out a possible reference to the Ciompi tumult of 1378 and to the new arts of doublet makers and dyers proclaimed on that occasion, but shortly after abolished. The reference to the betrayal of the values of romanitas is the central theme of the song by Bindo di Cione del Frate, That virtue, which the third heaven infuses where, through a dream, Rome appears in the guise of an elderly woman who complains about the state in which the city is now pouring his offspring. In addition to the thematic reference, the names of Brutus, Scipio and Cato, mentioned by Sacchetti, also recur in the song, together with many other examples of virtue.

The concluding verses of Fiorenza mïa, poi che disfatt'hai , by Franco Sacchetti himself, refer in the same way to Florence through its animal symbol that frequently recurs in the texts examined: the marzocco lion, to which the Ubaldini family had for years created problems «by disobeying» v. 47. Sacchetti also plays on the figurative meaning of the verb to submerge and on the combination of the marzocco with the gulf of Lion, to clarify the end that the family then had instead «in spite of the lion, / who submerged them, and not in the Leone sea» vv. 47-48. The next stanza continues, in the wake of the previous verses, this play on the word lion referring to «Castel Leone» v. 49 name with which the current Lévane was identified, occupied by the Ubaldini from December 1372 to June 1373, who had dishonestly «of theft having taken it» see. 50 to the Florentines. Taking up the theme of v. 3 «superba» such irreverence is justified as moved by pride itself «tant'era su montata lor superba» v. 51 of the family. I vv. 52-54 they return to the Florentine lion, praising its superiority «mag[g]ior leone» v. 52 and the conquest actions. Other significant cases in which Florence is referred to through the lion are v. 39 of Deh, angels and archangels with thrones by Antonio Pucci, where the reference to the cities is expressed through the symbolic animals that represent them: the lion for Florence, and the fox for Pisa. Also in O Signor mio ch'agli apostoli tue , Pucci concludes by providing the time coordinates of the story to the readers «Contato v'ho di fino a mezzo luglio / de l'anno sopradetto» v. IV.32.1-2 and describing - through a zoological metaphor that sees the animal symbols of Tuscan cities as protagonists: the lion for Florence and the fox for Pisa - the current situation, letting some anticipation of what will follow leak out. The Florentine lion and the Pisan fox are now facing each other to negotiate for a peace, the Pisans are however as usual prone to deception, the Florentines on their side are not foolish at all, they will be deceived only because of their loyalty. In the same way, Pucci's singing O indivisa etterna Ternitade also anticipates in closing what will follow in the following canto of the series of cantari della Guerra di Pisa, Pucci feeds the expectations of the public by announcing what will happen «Or vi dirò s' come di reasono / here the fox knew more than [the] lion» v. V.17. 7-8. The following canto, consequently, refers to the betrayal of the Florentine lion «the fox a∙leon diè mala strenna / ch'avendol' quasi a la pace promoto / e leopardi gli mandòne adosso» v. VI.12.6. The sonnet O Pisa, vituperation of the people of Filippo dei Bardi is also interesting in this regard. The author addresses Pisa itself, reminding her that not even God will save it from the clutches of the Florentine lion «And it is not worth calling that tall Teta» v. 4. The lion is represented in all its rage and majesty which with its «teeth» attributes see. 5; "mighty claws" v. 7 is intent without restraint on shedding Pisan blood «that does not keep quiet / Because its powerful claws are red / Of the blood of your sons with such pity» vv. 6-8. The duel involving the Lucchese Pietro de' Faitinelli and an anonymous Pisan rhymer is very interesting because it sees the direct confrontation between two authors divided at that time by the siege. In fact, the exchange of sonnets dates back to the period between 25 September 1341 and 2 October of the same year, a period in which Florence occupied the city of Lucca, having not yet suffered the defeat of Monte San Quirino and not having yet left Lucca in Pisan hands . As Aldinucci notes, the sonnet by Faitinelli's hand, Mugghiando va il Leon pel la foresta , recalls the sonnet analyzed The lion of Florence is improved, and like the latter is based on the symbolic animals of Tuscan cities. The city of Florence, the lion, rejoices over the recent conquest of Arezzo, the unbridled horse, and also has Pistoia, the she-bear, under him. In fact, Florence had obtained Arezzo in 1336, as evidenced by the sonnet The lion of Florence has improved, since 1331 the city of Pistoia has also been part of the Florentine sphere of influence. In the following verses, vv. 5-8, Lucca enters the scene, the Pantera, endowed with a bewitching breath that «lends» v. 5 this peculiarity of his to the Florentine lion thus allowing him to attract the Tuscan municipalities to himself. The support of the Florentines from Lucca also proved to be advantageous in geopolitical terms, having obtained Lucca from Mastino della Scala allowed Florence to «encircle the territory of Pisa from all sides» . After the allusion to the advantage that Florence obtains over the Pisans, in the following verses the Pisan hare also makes its appearance in the text, Pisa will do well to be careful since in addition to the cities mentioned above, Siena, the she-wolf, has allied itself with Firenze in an anti-Pisan perspective. The metaphor «the Leon and the Lupa hear what they did: / they set the nets and want to catch» vv. 10-11, used to represent the plots that Florence and Siena are carrying out against Pisa, is linked to the representation of the cities as animals and originate from the sphere of hunting, a metaphor inherent in the same area is also found in the sonnets Ceneda and Feltro and also Monte Belluni and San Marco and the Doge. For the Pisan hare there will be no escape, useless to flee as she usually does or to place her hopes in fate, as expressed through the use of the dice metaphor, Florence, the Lion, and Siena, the She-wolf, are close to destroying it. As for the reference to the hare as a herbivorous animal of little war value, but rather prone to fleeing and hiding, see the sonnet Più lichisati sei ch'ermellini by Folgore da San Gimignano, one of the countless references to the Pisan hare present in medieval literature.
Faitinelli receives an answer to this sonnet from an anonymous Pisan rhymer who addresses him Amico, look, it's not a headache. The sonnet is configured as a direct response to Lucchese and is based on the same lexical circle. The first quatrain mirrors the theme of Faitinelli's sonnet «ironically overturning its meaning» from a Pisan point of view. If the sonnet from Lucca narrated of a lion with its head held high in happiness, here the «friend» v. 1 to make sure that the lion is not bothered by a headache, which makes him raise his head, rather than happiness, or that it is not one of the usual pains, with a possible allusion to the internal divisions in the city of Florence. The Pisan continues with the reinterpretation of the sonnet of the Lucchese, there is no reason to be cheerful «come tu di’» v. 6, since Lucca, the Pantera, had to submit to the city of Florence not by her will but because she was subjected to the will of her lord Mastino della Scala, because she was forced to obey: «per demonstrarsi ne l'ubidir presta» v. 8. The first tercet further explores the theme of the purchase of Lucca defined disparagingly as «barter» v. 10, which will prove to be more of a pain than a happiness for the Lucchese Panther. As far as the Arezzo horse is concerned, the friend is invited to be careful that it does not turn against those who boldly spur it on, the danger represented by the unbridled horse from the back can be identified with what could be the danger of a revolt against the Florentines in Arezzo, a circumstance which actually occurs in July 1341; in those years the betrayal of «that da Pietramala», Tarlato Tarlati from Arezzo, mentioned in Antonio Pucci's song O lucchesi v. XI.6, Arezzo, after having first allied itself with Florence, plots a conspiracy against the same city of Giglio. The V. 14 «talor di back» could allude, among other things, to the geographical position of Arezzo in relation to Florence, which seen from Pisa appears to be in a posterior position with respect to the lilyed city. The last verses praise the Pisan Hare, this time it is she who is cheerful, this one of hers does not in fact fear the plots that «those false» are weaving against her v. 16 of Florence the Lion, and Siena the She-wolf. On the contrary, in force of her qualities: wit, strength and wisdom «not afraid» v. 18 neither Florence, nor the cities that this has placed under her wing: Siena and Pistoia. If we observe the Indian context, the capital of Sarnath, emblem of the Indian Republic, represents four lions leaning against each other on the abacus, the majesty of these lions closely resembles the Florentine Marzocco. In particular, the Ashokan pillar erected in Sarnath is the most iconic and celebrated of the Ashokan pillars, it is in fact also depicted on the Indian one rupee banknote and on the two rupee coin and has also become the Indian national emblem. The aspect of the pillar that interests us here is the capital in which four lions are depicted, each positioned in the direction of the four cardinal points. The lions have their mouths open and roar, the lion in the Indian context, as well as being a symbol of royalty and power, as in the Western and Florentine context, is also a symbol of Buddha himself. Other animals are carved at the base of the capital: a horse, a bull, a lion and an elephant. As in the case of Florence, also in the Indian case of the capital of Ashokan the lion becomes a symbol of pride and power in command, but at the same time it is associated with other animals, both in the case of the capital and in the cases of the sonnets examined, such as whether both in the Indian context and in the Florentine one we wanted to refer to the lion, symbolizing it and making it an emblem of a city but at the same time without completely extrapolating it from its natural context in which it is surrounded by other animals and nature.

Gatti Luca, Il mito di Marte a Firenze e la «pietra scema». Memorie riti, e ascendenze, in «Rinascimento», XXXV (1995), pp. 201-230. 
Shelby Karen, "Lion Capital, Ashokan Pillar at Sarnath", in Smarthistory, 9 agosto 2015, accesso 3 aprile 2023, https://smarthistory.org/lion-capital-ashokan-pillar-at-sarnath/.
Morpurgo Salomone, Dieci sonetti storici fiorentini, Firenze, Carnesecchi, 1893.
Edizioni critiche di autori:
ANTONIO PUCCI, Cantari della Guerra di Pisa = ANTONIO PUCCI, Cantari della Guerra di Pisa, edizione critica, a cura di, M. Bendinelli Predelli, Firenze, Società Editrice Fiorentina, 2017. 
FRANCO SACCHETTI = FRANCO SACCHETTI, Il libro delle rime, a cura di F. Brambilla Ageno, Firenze-Melbourne, Olschki-University of Australia Press, 1989 (A.); FRANCO SACCHETTI, Il libro delle rime con le lettere; La battaglia delle belle donne, a cura di D. Puccini, Torino, UTET, 2007, (P.). 
PIETRO DE’ FAITINELLI = PIETRO DE’ FAITINELLI, Rime, a cura di B. Aldinucci, Firenze, Accademia della Crusca, 2016.
Strumenti di consultazione: 
DBI = Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960-. 
Libro di Daniele = Testo a cura della Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, https://www.vatican.va/archive/index_it.htm
TLIO = Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini, fondato da Pietro G. Beltrami e diretto da P. Squillacioti presso CNR-Opera del Vocabolario Italiano, http://tlio.ovi.cnr.it/TLIO/
Toscana Giunta Regionale, 1995 = Toscana Giunta Regionale, La Toscana e i suoi comuni, storia, territorio, popolazione, stemmi e gonfaloni delle libere comunità toscane, Venezia, Marsilio, 1995. 


Restoration by India's Diaspora, the Roma - Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu


A Global History of Obelisk-Shaped Tombstones: A Study of British Cemeteries in India – Kana Tomizawa

Tomb of Rose Aylmer, Park Street Cemetery, Kolkata

Paper read at the Annual Conference of the Collegium Mediterraneanistrarum, 12 June 2022

Obelisk-shaped tombstones, which are quite common in modern Western cemeteries, have been considered a product of the so-called ‘Egyptian Revival’, a fad in Egyptian design that arose from the development of Egyptian studies after Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign (1789-1799). The establishment of modern cemeteries outside churches is also said to date from the 19th century. In India, however, the British had formed cemeteries long before that, and many obelisk-shaped tombstones can be found there. In other words, it is highly likely that obelisk tombstones appeared in India before the Egyptian Campaign, from some other causes. In this paper we will first verify this by examining the existing tombstones in the British cemeteries in India. It will then attempt a small ‘world history of tombstones’ by looking back in time to see how obelisks and their designs were used before the 18th century, and when, where and how they were associated with memorials for the dead.

In India we will first look at the South Park Street Cemetery in Calcutta (now Kolkata), a cemetery founded in 1767. There we can see many obelisk-shaped headstones, but we have to examine how many of them were actually erected before the impact of the Egyptian Campaign. The author studied the shapes of the tombstones of those who passed away until 1805. That survey revealed that of the 185 surviving tombstones in this era, 27 were clearly obelisk-shaped, and a total of 44 were identified where slightly thicker or more pyramid-like ones were added.

From this it can be pointed out that a new modern expression concerning memorials may have been established in India prior to the European mainland. But, to confirm this, it is also necessary to review how obelisks had been associated with memorials before the 18th century. The diffusion of obelisks and their designs in the West began when a number of obelisks brought from Egypt to Rome in ancient times were later revived in the 16th-17th centuries. Seeing the development of obelisks and their designs from antiquity, especially from the 16th-17th centuries onwards, we can find some usages for memorial expressions. But, as far as the author knows, they were not free-standing obelisk-shaped tombstones, the theme of this paper, but just decorative parts or flat reliefs. The author believes that the widespread use of freestanding obelisk-shaped tombstones occurred in India prior to those in Europe.

Why, then, did tombstones with this Egyptian design appear in India before Egyptology was established? The first thing to be noted is the link between Indian funeral architecture and the British cemetery at Surat and the British playwright and architect John Vanbrugh. There were some architects involved in the construction of several obelisks and pyramid-like structures in 18th century Britain, in towns and country houses, and, at the centre of their architects we can find John Vanbrugh. Interestingly, the source of his imagery was the English cemetery he had seen in Surat when he was still a young man. In 1711, Vanbrugh presented a proposal for a cemetery consisting of ‘Lofty and Noble Mausoleums,’ modelled on the English Cemetery he had seen at Surat a quarter of a century earlier, in which obelisks and pyramid-shaped headstone can be found in the sketches. The British and Dutch cemeteries in Surat today do in fact have several obelisk-shaped tombstones, may of which cannot be dated, but some can definitely be identified as dating back to the 17th century. The cemetery’s unique memorial expression shows the influence of Islamic mausoleum architecture, which flourished in India from around the 14th century, and the Hindu princely cenotaphs (chhatris) that were established around Rajasthan under its influence. The Surat cemetery, with its mixture of these diverse tomb buildings and designs of European origin, influenced 18th century British architecture through Vanbrugh.

The next point of interest is the possible confusion and overlap between the imagery of obelisks and other ancient architecture. Before the establishment of Egyptology, there should have bee no basis for linking obelisks with the concepts of death and rebirth, but we can actually find a certain link between obelisks and consolatory images. One of the reasons seems to be the confusion between the images of the obelisks and the pyramids. The 18th century British Massacre Cenotaph at Patna is also sometimes referred to as an “obelisk”, but it is clearly modelled on a Roman memorial column. Interestingly, the famous Trajan’s Memorial Colum is also a kind of tomb, as it has his remains on the base part. The Mausoleum of Maussollos at Helicarnassus has also often been depicted as resembling an obelisk or pyramid, although its actual shape is unknown. This and other representations of the so-called Seven Wonders of the World and capriccios of the 17th-18th centuries suggest that a diverse range of ancient architectural images related in memorials and obelisks have developed in an overlapping and mixed manner.

Thus, it is assumed that the obelisk tombstone form was established and developed in India as the history of complex images of obelisks and the Indian culture of funeral architecture intersected. The background to this may have been the need for new burial sites and new expressions of memorialization due to the high mortality rate of westerners in India and the lack of churches and cemeteries, but there are many other issues to be further interrogated, including the wider influence of Indian architecture and technology. This cultural phenomenon is difficult to grasp in a binary British/Indian, West/East, dominant/dominated structure, and it will be essential to gain knowledge across disciplines and regions to elucidate it. The author hopes for guidance from various researchers.

The original paper was written and read in Japanese.

Feminist Gandhi - Julia Bolton Holloway

Mahatma Gandhi brought a new dimension into our lives. When he spoke of nonviolence, he meant not merely the avoidance of violent action but cleansing our hearts of hatred and bittereness. He unveiled the spiritual political power of illiterate and humble have-nots and pointed out that the only programmes worth preaching were those which could be translated into action. He said that every decision and programme should be judged from the viewpoint of the poorest and the weakest.
                                                                                                                   Indira Gandhi

The reader might well rebel at this paper's title. Gandhi is seen as a 'male chauvinist'. However, there are aspects to Gandhi's life and thought that can be related to feminism. This paper discusses three aspects of Gandhi - Gandhi and Patriarchy, Gandhi and Women, Gandhi and the Bomb, all of which are related to each other. It will not be academic but instead, to a large extent, in Gandhi's own manner, an experiment with truth.

Gandhi and Patriarchy

My best avenue to this topic is to discuss the relationship of a father, a daughter and Gandhi. My father was an Englishman in India and a friend of Gandhi. My father and Gandhi were both journalists, so once they both wrote up interviews of each other, my father's serious one on Gandhi in The Times of India, Gandhi's joking one in Young India about blue-eyed, fair-haired Glorney Bolton. My father was with Gandhi on the Salt March to Dandi in March 1930. There was a British Broadcasting Corporation recording of many voices, 'Talking of Gandhiji', my father's voice being one of these, now lost. Though the book made from it exists. This is what my father said on that broadcast of the event where Gandhi illegally and very simply gathered salt from the sea:

And there was Gandhi, walking along, with his friends round him, it was a sort of terrific anticlimax. There was no cheering, no great shouts of delight, and no sort of stately procession at all, it was all . . . in a sense rather farcical. However this great march had begun . . . here he was, quite happy, with people round him, on the whole very quiet, but now and again you heard Gandhi . . . break out with that wonderful boyish laughter of his. He didn't know how the march was going to end, but nonetheless, there I was, seeing history happen in a strange sort of . . . way; something completely un-European and yet very, very moving.
That act was to end Britain's dominion of India. Such a simple act - yet far more powerful than any act of violent terrorism, than any use of any bomb. But it needs an explanation. Britain imposed a monopoly upon salt in India. She did so because Rome had likewise imposed such a monopoly upon all the lands that lay under the yoke of her vast Empire. From it comes the word 'salary' that we use today. Salt was made into a currency, the state controlling a substance essential to life. However, such a monopoly was not the practice in Britain. Its imposition upon India was an unjust, patriarchal, imperial act and Gandhi, who had studied law in England, knew this. Our American version of this simple gathering of salt from the sea was Rosa Parks, because of her tired feet, refusing her seat to a white man on an Alabama bus - an act which changed us from a racist nation to one with a dream of equality partly realized, though we have further to go.

I grew up with the knowledge of Gandhi all about me as a girl in England, knowing my father was his friend and had written his biography, The Tragedy of Gandhi, published in 1934 when it seemed that Gandhi had failed. I remember listening with great intensity to the Declaration of India's Independence by Earl Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru on the radio when I was ten years old. But now, when I read my father's biography of Gandhi, two things make me rebel against that Englishman's perspective. My father wrote that he despised Gandhi's 'feminine masochism' (partly alluding to his use of 'anorexia') and he also criticized Gandhi's espousal of poverty. My father was a widow's son, had known comparative poverty, and had struggled against it to acquire an education at Oxford, failing to obtain his degree. He desperately wanted to succeed in journalism and politics. However, Gandhi really did succeed - but by insisting on getting rid of status and rank and caste - knowing that there was only so much to go round and that it must be shared, that one man's wealth causes another's poverty. Willy Brandt in the report North/South, likewise voices this in connection with war.

While hunger rules, peace cannot prevail. He who wants to ban war must also ban poverty. It makes no difference whether a human being is killed in war or starves to death because of the indifference of others.
My father was then ambitious for wealth and fame and therefore Gandhi's ideas clashed with his own. But many years later he was to write a biography of Pope John XXIII, Living Peter, a biography which praises rather than blames a similar man. Gandhi, it can be seen, successfully educated his adversaries.

A colonial power must lie to itself. Gandhi stripped those lies away, using justice to unveil injustice, using law to demonstrate the lawlessness of British dominion. And to do so he turned to women.

Gandhi and Women

Margaret Bourke-White who photographed this immediately before Gandhi was assassinated

India had once been a great textile-producing nation. Our America calico cloth's name means that it once was produced at Calicut, in Madras, in India, and then exported to England and her colonies. But the English in the nineteenth century, to protect their own textile industries, forbade India to continue hers. Indians who had once exported textiles now had to import them from Lancashire. Gandhi saw one way of breaking British dominion over India as becoming self-sufficient in textile production. So he turned to village and cottage crafts, his womenfolk and he himself spinning and weaving khaddar cloth, homespun cloth. Santha Rama Rau, in her autobiography, Home to India, discussed the boycott and women's central participation in it. It is difficult for western, male culture to realize the full political importance of cloth. We are more involved with text than with textile. Yet to look at classical literature is to find that weaving by women was as important as tale-telling, history writing, by men, the two becoming interwoven in each other. In Guatemala today, the women express the tale of their oppression through embroidered pictures, which cannot be censored in the same way as can the written word.

It seems that every liberation movement needs the feminine as well as the masculine, the women far more clearly symbolizing the transition from bondage to freedom than does the man. Gandhi wilfully took on that woman's role, using that symbolism. His revolution against the mother country was not with male weapons of destruction but with female tools of production. His male sword was a female spinning wheel, the charka, the wheel of life, the emblem today upon the flag of India - and upon that of the Rom.

I find the spinning wheel admirable, not despicable. Here I and my father would part ways.

Gandhi and the Bomb

Margaret Bourke-White, the American Time/Life photographer who was with Gandhi just before he was shot, disagreed with his feminine principles. Paradoxically she wanted masculine solutions. As did my father, she saw the answer to India's poverty in westernization, industrialization, and high technology. Gandhi countered her by quietly spinning cloth as she photographed him. In her autobiography, Portrait of Myself, she reported Gandhi's final conversation. It was about the nuclear bomb.

As we sat there in the thin winter sunlight, he spinning and I jotting down his words, neither of us could know that this was to be perhaps his very last message to the world . . . Gandhi began to probe at the dreadful problem which has overwhelmed us all. I asked Gandhi how he would meet the atom bomb. Would he meet it with nonviolence? 'Ah', he said. 'How should I answer that? I would meet it by prayerful action.' I asked what form that action would take. 'I will not go underground. I will not go into shelters. I will go out and face the pilot so he will see I have not the face of evil against him.' He turned back to his spinning . . . I rose to leave, and folded my hands together in the gesture of farewell which Hindus use. But Gandhiji held out his hand to me and shook hands cordially in Western fashion.
That gesture, incidentally, shows that one does not hold a sword. Gandhi then went to prayer and was shot. The man had given the woman's response, to spin, to provide clothing for future generations. The woman has been led to the ultimate technological development, the masculine weapon that could annihilate the future.

I do not know why this conversation was left out of the film, Gandhi, except to say that three years ago it was still not fashionable to fear the bomb. It was taboo, something deeply repressed. Today we are openly, consciously examining that issue. Gandhi can help us toward a solution. He would have us disarm. He would feminize the world. There are more tons of explosive power per child, woman and man in the world than there is food. Gandhi would say that preparation for war in order to prevent war is folly. Einstein did say that. It is time for a revolution for peace. Gandhi taught us how to have a revolution with tools that build a future, rather than with weapons that annihilate the past, the present and the future. To learn how to use these tools, Gandhi himself was willing to be taught by women. Weapons exist to enforce the power of one nation, race, sex, creed or caste over another's. Theirs is only a negative, destructive power. But in a world where the primary concerns are shelter, food, and clothing for all, regardless of these superficial distinctions, weapons become unnecessary. Gandhi, in turning to the untouchables and the women, turned Hinduism upside-down and he turned the world the right way round.

Originally given as a paper, then published, in 1984, was awarded the 'Art of Peace' prize. The BBC broadcast is now lost, but the book published from it survives.

Gandhi's possessions at his death, his glasses, his sandals, etc.

Prega, rifletti e poi fai:

questa regola (di Gandhi) ottenne l'independenza dell'India/

Pray, reflect, and then act:

This rule (from Gandhi) won India's indepedence

Fioretta Mazzei     


Arch. Amina Anelli is the restorer of the monument of the Indian Prince in the Cascine and architect for the Comune of Florence. Dal 2015 lavora presso la Direzione Servizi Tecnici del Comune di Firenze nell’ambito del Servizio Belle Arti e Fabbrica di Palazzo Vecchio fino al mese di dicembre 2022 e dopo nell’ambito del Servizio Supporto Tecnico Quartieri e Impianti Sportivi (P.O. Scuole, Biblioteche, Ludoteche, Centri civici ed altri immobili del Quartiere 1), occupandosi di progettazione, direzione lavori, coordinamento della sicurezza e verifica progetti e in qualità di membro di commissioni giudicatrici per appalti di lavori pubblici e di relatrice in conferenze illustrative di progetti/lavori.
Dr Peter Burman studied History of Art at the University of Cambridge. His first role was as Assistant, Deputy then Director of the Council for the Care of Churches and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. Later, as Director of Conservation & Property Services of the National Trust for Scotland, he found himself living within the City of Edinburgh World Heritage Site. Companion of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin.

Pritha Chakraborty  has completed her B.A in English from University of Calcutta and is currently pursuing her M.A in English Literature and Language in Department of English, University of Delhi. Her areas of interest include Gender Studies, Victorian Age, Feminist Criticism, Masculinity Studies, American Literature, Modern Age etc. She blogs, writes poetry, has worked with Stirring Minds, based in Bangalore, and Teevro Private Limited based in Jaipur as a content writer. She wishes to continue her career in academia and has published articles while also taking part and presenting papers in various national and international conferences. You can reach her at prithabarac@gmail.com.

Gabriella Del Lungo Camiciotti was Professor of English, University of Florence, publishing on Margery Kempe and other women contemplatives.

Francesca Ditifeci is Ricercatore of English Language and Translation of the University of Florence's Dipartimento di Formazione, Lingue, intercultura, Letterature e Psicologia.

Daniel-Claudiu Dumitrescu is from Romania, the restorer of the English Cemetery, who inherited his grandfather's copper-smithing tools. He has also worked on the restoration of Donatello's pulpit in Prato, has created two facsimiles of the Libro del Chiodo, and chisels the memorial plaques to Frederick Douglass, Sarah Parker Remond, etc. The Roma from India by way of Persia and Turkey a thousand years ago, their language still Sanskrit.

Mi chiamo Elena Giannarelli: sono fiorentina, filologa classica e docente universitaria in pensione. Ho vissuto otto bellissimi anni postlaurea alla Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. Ho viaggiato molto per lavoro, in Europa, negli Stati Uniti, in Australia, finendo per tornare in Italia e a Firenze. Ho pubblicato volumi e saggi di storia delle donne nel mondo antico, ho tradotto e commentato testi greci e latini, soprattutto biografie. Ho scritto libri di storia di Firenze, materia che insegno all’Università dell’Età Libera della mia città, dove sono presidente del Centro di Studi Patristici e professore invitato alla Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Centrale.

Nick Havely is Emeritus Professor at the University of York, where he taught courses on English literature and Dante. His recent books include: Dante’s British Public (2014); Dante Beyond Borders: Contexts and Reception (2021); and After Dante (2021), a new translation of the Purgatorio by sixteen contemporary poets. He has held Leverhulme and Bogliasco Fellowships, and has been elected an Honorary Member of the Dante Society of America. His current project is Apennine Crossings: Travellers on the Edge of Tuscany, to be published by Oxford University Press.

Julia Bolton Holloway is Professor Emerita of the University of Colorado at Boulder, her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley where she taught, also at Princeton University. She has published books and articles on Dante Alighieri, his teacher, Brunetto Latino, editing his writings, those of Julian of Norwich and Birgitta of Sweden, and of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry for Penguin and in Italian for Le Lettere. She is Custodian of Florence's English Cemetery, organizes the City and Book international conferences and the Academia Bessarion encounters, and is a Companion of the Guild of St George of John Ruskin. The websites for Florence's English Cemetery are at florin.ms

Arjun Shivaji Jain received a Master of Science in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, Uttarakhand in 2014, and a Post Graduate Certificate in Art and Science from Central Saint Martins of the University of the Arts in London in 2016. Recipient of multiple scholarships and fellowships instituted by the Department of Science, Govt. of India, and having worked at the Indian Institute of Technology and National Science Academy in Delhi, and the National University of Singapore, he has assumed various disparate roles over the years (including, but not limited to, waiting tables, invigilating galleries, housekeeping, gardening, felling trees, & teaching). Self-published and well-travelled, he is serving at present as the first Young Companions' Representative of the Guild of St George, UK, whilst working, in a personal capacity, as a visual artist. He is proprietor of the John Ruskin Manufactory, and director at Red House, here in Delhi where he currently resides.

Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones MBE is an Executive Committee member of BACSA (British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia) and the editor of its Journal, Chowkidar. She is a specialist on colonial India and her most recent book, published in January 2023 by Hurst is Empire Building: the Construction of British India. BACSA’s website is: https://www.bacsa.org.uk.