lunes, 18 de junio de 2018


As Christina Rossetti dramatises thrillingly in 'Goblin Market' (1862), her long, strange narrative poem, creatures from fairyland may appear and capture you with their queer irresistible gifts:

'“We must not look at goblin men, 
We must not buy their fruits: ...'

Her goblins are closer to Shakespeare's ambiguous fairies, Cobweb, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom, than to that 'airy spirit' Ariel, and they're also given Bosch-like features, monstrous and metamorphic, furry and whiskered:

Curious Laura chose to linger 
Wondering at each merchant man. 
One had a cat’s face, 
One whisk’d a tail, 
One tramp’d at a rat’s pace, 
One crawl’d like a snail, 
One like a wombat prowl’d obtuse and furry, 
One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry. 
She heard a voice like voice of doves 
Cooing all together: 
They sounded kind and full of loves 
In the pleasant weather. 

Laura gives a lock of her golden hair in exchange for the fruits the goblins are proffering; her sister Lizzie then has to place herself in grave danger, and wrestle with the 'queer little goblin men,' in order to bring Laura back from the dead. In many ways, the sisters double each other. The scholar of Victorian literature Isobel Armstrong has commented, 'this is the most dazzling of the era's fairy creations ... riddle-like poems of desire, exclusion, and painful lack--poems structured through subtle negative particles and subjunctives which disclose haunting hypothetical worlds.' The state of sexual enthrallment that Rossetti conjures (Laura 'Sucking ... sucked and sucked until her lips were sore...') transmutes into keyed-up faery imagery and hypnotic lullaby the poet's experience of young womens' ordeals, for Rossetti herself worked with unmarried women in Highgate penitentiary near her house and, like Lewis Carroll, campaigned against the exploitation of children.
The poem is a characteristic story of faerie, an original invention inspired by folklore about faery abductions. It is a brilliant, perturbing, invented fairytale in verse which springs from principles laid down in the folkloric tradition about a possible otherworld nearby.
Christina Rossetti was also one of the Victorian writers who identified children as a special readership for fairytale and related material, [···]

(Marina Warner)

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