Journal Article

PEARL-DIVERS OF THE APOCALYPSE—CHRISTINA ROSSETTI'S <i>THE FACE OF THE DEEP</i>

Kevin Mills

in Literature and Theology

Volume 15, issue 1, pages 25-39
Published in print March 2001 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online March 2001 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/15.1.25
PEARL-DIVERS OF THE APOCALYPSE—CHRISTINA ROSSETTI'S THE FACE OF THE DEEP

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This paper explores the rhetoric of surfaces and depths (familiar from her poetry) in Christina Rossetti's commentary on the Apocalypse The Face of the Deep (1892). The motives for such an undertaking are threefold: to observe the ways in which a rhetoric of textual depth masks conditions of production, while those very conditions are precisely what produce a depth-effect on the textual surface, to consider the nature of the distinction between the ‘face’, to a text and its ‘deep’, to increase familiarity with a little-read, but highly rewarding work. In deference to Rossetti's own technique, this performative reading moves across the face of the text, borrowing its conventions and critical tools from its host, finding in the process that the latter's intimation of depth can be glimpsed only as a paradoxical effect of the rhetorical superficies

‘If thou canst dive, bring up pearls. If thou canst not dive, collect amber’ (The Face of the Deep, Prefatory Note)

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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