Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 4: No 2) >> Simms On Washington Allston's Monaldi >> Page 16

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Page 16

Secondary Scholarship | 1996
Transcription poet, whereas Monaldi seems capable, at best, of reaching mediocrity as a
painter, Maldura's first work doesn't make the big splash he had hoped
for, an outcome that begins to sour him. But he does win slight public
favor afterwards. He pays court to a young woman named Rosalia, who
eventually rejects him. Now much embittered, he disappears for a long
time, his literary fame having been brief as well.
As his star sinks so does that of Monaldi begin to rise as the latter's
paintings become ever more celebrated. Monaldi too meets Rosalia and, in
time, she becomes his wife. The young couple is blissfully happy.
A cause for some unhappiness, however, is Monaldi's discovery
that his old friend suffers from neglect and from humiliation, since he has
failed to live up to his promise. Maldura won't be cheered by Monaldi's
belief in him and his willingness to help him restore his writing career.
Maldura has long been misanthropic but now, out of jealousy, he
fashions a plan to destroy Monaldi's happiness. He hires an Italian count,
now sunk to the status of a highwayman but still retaining his reputation of
a ladykiller, to deceive Monaldi by leading him to believe that Rosalia is
unfaithful to him.
The deception works, and, in a fit of jealous rage and madness,
Monaldi attempts to kill Rosalia. In fact, he believes he has. He goes
insane and travels about Italy as a kind of mad Shakespearean fool.
Years pass. Finally, Maldura comes upon his old friend, and
repenting of his cruel plot against him, now seeks to bring solace into the
poor wretch's life. Rosalia is sent for, but Monaldi is so far gone in
madness that nothing she can do or say can make him believe that she is
truly alive. Monaldi thus lives out his life in madness. Maldura, now
pentitent, seeks peace in a religious order.

Such was the story that Simms read and criticized for a review that appeared
in his literary journal Magnolia (December 1842). Except for the concluding
paragraphs, in which Simms lays claim to Allston as a Southern writer and pauses
to offer a few remarks from the novel on the question of poetic rules versus natura
genius, this review with only minor changes in phrasing became a part of Simm's
long-planned essay entitled "The Writings of Washington Allston," published in the
Southern Quarterly Review in October 1843, a few months after Allston's death,