Contents Index

Leigh Hunt's "Rimini"

Leigh Hunt's Story of Rimini (1816) recounts the legendary love of Francesca da Rimini and her brother-in-law, Paolo Malatesta, which is found in Dante's Inferno (5.73-138), in a style at once richly textured like a medieval tapestry and linguistically contemporary. His explanation for the illicit love was that the youthful Francesca was married to Paolo as a stand-in for his haughty older brother and fell in love with him at first sight. This quotation comes from the beginning of Canto 2, after the groom's elaborate wedding party arrives with the surrogate Paolo as "the very poetry of nature" (2.47) to fetch the bride. In 1815 Hunt had become something of a mentor to both Mary Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and he was to remain one of their warmest friends. Indicative of how close this circle was, Hunt's Story of Rimini was dedicated to Lord Byron.