John Addington Symonds and ‘The Author of Beltraffio



The only surviving letter from James to Symonds was written in 1884 and concerns the ‘unspeakably tender passion’ they shared for Italy. I sent you the Century more than a year ago with my paper on Venice/ James wrote, meaning the year he had lunched with Symonds and during which Symonds had published the first defence of homosexuality to appear in England, A Problem in Greek Ethics. James explains that he sent the paper

because it was a constructive way of expressing the good will I felt towards you in consequence of what you had written about the land of Italy — and of intimating to you, somewhat dumbly, that I am an attentive and sympathetic reader. I nourish for the said Italy an unspeakably tender passion, and your pages always seemed to say to me that you were one of a small number of people who love it as much as I do — in addition to your knowing it immeasurably better. I wanted to recognize this (to your knowledge); for it seemed to me the victims of a common passion should exchange a look... I spent last winter in the United States and while I was there another old and excellent friend of mine, Sergeant Perry ... read me a portion of a note he had had from you, in which you were so good as to speak (in a friendly — a very friendly way) of the little paper in the Century ...


Intimate Exchange Modern Ethic North American Literature Common Passion Sympathetic Reader 
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  1. 7.
    Jane Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, 35 Vols (London: Macmillan, 1996), Vol. 4, 284.Google Scholar

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© John R. Bradley 2000

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