The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton rewrites the history of the Renaissance Vergilian epic by incorporating the neo-Latin side of the story alongside the vernacular one, revealing how epics spoke to each other "across the language gap" and together comprised a single, "Augustinian tradition" of epic poetry. Beginning with Petrarch's Africa, Warner offers major new interpretations of Renaissance epics both famous and forgotten—from Milton's Paradise Lost to a Latin Christiad by his near-contemporary, Alexander Ross—thereby shedding new light on the development of the epic genre. For advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and scholars in the fields of Italian, English, and Comparative literatures as well as the Classics and the history of religion and literature.
Chaucer's Italian Tradition
Warren Ginsberg University of Michigan Press, 2002 Library of Congress PR1912.A3G56 2002 | Dewey Decimal 821.1
In his latest book, Warren Ginsberg explores what he calls Chaucer's "Italian tradition," a discourse that emerges by viewing the social institutions and artistic modes that shaped Chaucer's reception of Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. While offering a fresh look at one of England's great literary figures, this book addresses important questions about the dynamics of cross-cultural translation and the formation of tradition.
Because divergent political, municipal, and literary histories would have made the Italian cities--Genoa, Florence, and Milan--unfamiliar to an English poet from medieval London, Ginsberg argues that we must consider what Chaucer overlooked and mistook from his Italian models alongside the material he did appropriate. To make sense of premises in texts like Dante's Comedy that were peculiarly Italian, Chaucer would look to Boccaccio as a gloss; by reading these authors in conjunction with one another, Chaucer generates an "Italian tradition" that translates into the terms of his English experience works already mediated by a prior stage of transposition.
Ginsberg explores Chaucer's relationship to Italian poets not in terms of the interaction of individual talents with accredited authorities (Chaucer and Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch, etc.). Rather, he focuses on the shifts in tension that occur when the civic engagements and disengagements of Florence's poets are brought into contact with Chaucer's growing metropolitanism and increasing reluctance to make London the locus of his poetic art.
Beyond its appeal to medievalists and those who study the Renaissance, Chaucer's Italian Tradition will be welcomed by readers interested in theoretical questions about translation and the development of tradition, including individuals who study history, literature, and the nature of the humanities.
Warren Ginsberg is Professor of English, University of Oregon.
The Renaissance movement known as humanism eventually spread from Italy through all of western Europe, transforming early modern culture in ways that are still being felt and debated. Central to these debates—and to this book—is the question of whether (and how) the humanist movement contributed to the secularization of Western cultural traditions at the end of the Middle Ages. A preeminent scholar of Italian humanism, Riccardo Fubini approaches this question in a new way—by redefining the problem of secularization more carefully to show how humanists can at once be secularizers and religious thinkers. The result is a provocative vision of the humanist movement. Humanism and Secularization offers a nuanced account of humanists contesting medieval ideas about authority not in order to reject Christianity or even orthodoxy, but to claim for themselves the right to define what it meant to be a Christian. Fubini analyzes key texts by major humanists—isuch as Petrarch, Poggio, and Valla—from the first century of the movement. As he subtly works out these authors’ views on religion and the Church from both biographical and textual information, Fubini reveals in detail the new historical consciousness that animated the humanists in their reading of classical and patristic texts. His book as a whole shows convincingly just how radical the humanism of the first half of the fifteenth century was and how sharply it challenged well-entrenched ideas and institutions. Appearing here in English for the first time, his work provides a model set of readings of humanist texts and a critical perspective on Italian humanism that will alter and enrich discussion and understanding of the nature of the humanist movement.
My Secret Book
Francesco Petrarca Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ4496.E29S33 2016 | Dewey Decimal 853.1
Petrarch was the leading spirit in the Renaissance movement to revive literary Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, and Greco-Roman culture in general. My Secret Book reveals a remarkable self-awareness as he probes and evaluates the springs of his own morally dubious addictions to fame and love.
Although Francesco Petrarca (1304–74) is best known today for cementing the sonnet’s place in literary history, he was also a philosopher, historian, orator, and one of the foremost classical scholars of his age. Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works is the only comprehensive, single-volume source to which anyone—scholar, student, or general reader—can turn for information on each of Petrarch’s works, its place in the poet’s oeuvre, and a critical exposition of its defining features.
A sophisticated but accessible handbook that illuminates Petrarch’s love of classical culture, his devout Christianity, his public celebrity, and his struggle for inner peace, this encyclopedic volume covers both Petrarch’s Italian and Latin writings and the various genres in which he excelled: poem, tract, dialogue, oration, and letter. A biographical introduction and chronology anchor the book, making Petrarch an invaluable resource for specialists in Italian, comparative literature, history, classics, religious studies, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.
Born in Tuscany in 1304, Italian poet Francesco Petrarca is widely considered one of the fathers of the modern Italian language. Though his writings inspired the humanist movement and subsequently the Renaissance, Petrarch remains misunderstood. He was a man of contradictions—a Roman pagan devotee and a devout Christian, a lover of friendship and sociability, yet intensely private.
In this biography, Christopher S. Celenza revisits Petrarch’s life and work for the first time in decades, considering how the scholar’s reputation and identity have changed since his death in 1374. He brings to light Petrarch’s unrequited love for his poetic muse, the anti-institutional attitude he developed as he sought a path to modernity by looking backward to antiquity, and his endless focus on himself. Drawing on both Petrarch’s Italian and Latin writings, this is a revealing portrait of a figure of paradoxes: a man of mystique, historical importance, and endless fascination. It is the only book on Petrarch suitable for students, general readers, and scholars alike.
We have become used to looking at art from a stance of detachment. In order to be objective, we create a “mental space” between ourselves and the objects of our investigation, separating internal and external worlds. This detachment dates back to the early modern period, when researchers in a wide variety of fields tried to describe material objects as “things in themselves”—things, that is, without the admixture of imagination. Generations of scholars have heralded this shift as the Renaissance “discovery” of the observable world.
In Poetry in a World of Things, Rachel Eisendrath explores how poetry responded to this new detachment by becoming a repository for a more complex experience of the world. The book focuses on ekphrasis, the elaborate literary description of a thing, as a mode of resistance to this new empirical objectivity. Poets like Petrarch, Spenser, Marlowe, and Shakespeare crafted highly artful descriptions that recovered the threatened subjective experience of the material world. In so doing, these poets reflected on the emergence of objectivity itself as a process that was often darker and more painful than otherwise acknowledged. This highly original book reclaims subjectivity as a decidedly poetic and human way of experiencing the material world and, at the same time, makes a case for understanding art objects as fundamentally unlike any other kind of objects.
"I don't know of any other book that deals with the hermeneutical problem of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in the way this one does. Full of cunning and unpredictable turns, Prodigal Son/Elder Brother addresses the question of the elder brother's fate by opposing two sets of readings, Christian and Jewish, ancient and modern, figural and midrashic. No one, after reading this book, will any longer connect Judaism and Christianity with a hyphen."—Gerald L. Burns, University of Notre Dame
"Through a creative reading of the prodigal son parable, Jill Robbins demonstrates the hermeneutical impasse of the Christian exegete who must and yet cannot incorporate the Old Testament. Having disclosed the aporia at the heart of Christian hermeneutics, she proposes an alternative approach to the Hebrew Bible and new interpretations of Augustine, Petrarch, Kafka, and Levinas. Robbins brilliantly integrates the discourses of biblical texts, literary works, and critical analysis."—Mark C. Taylor, Williams College
In 1345, when Petrarch recovered a lost collection of letters from Cicero to his best friend Atticus, he discovered an intimate Cicero, a man very different from either the well-known orator of the Roman forum or the measured spokesman for the ancient schools of philosophy. It was Petrarch’s encounter with this previously unknown Cicero and his letters that Kathy Eden argues fundamentally changed the way Europeans from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries were expected to read and write.
The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy explores the way ancient epistolary theory and practice were understood and imitated in the European Renaissance.Eden draws chiefly upon Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca—but also upon Plato, Demetrius, Quintilian, and many others—to show how the classical genre of the “familiar” letter emerged centuries later in the intimate styles of Petrarch, Erasmus, and Montaigne. Along the way, she reveals how the complex concept of intimacy in the Renaissance—leveraging the legal, affective, and stylistic dimensions of its prehistory in antiquity—pervades the literary production and reception of the period and sets the course for much that is modern in the literature of subsequent centuries. Eden’s important study will interest students and scholars in a number of areas, including classical, Renaissance, and early modern studies; comparative literature; and the history of reading, rhetoric, and writing.
Although Francesco Petrarca's position as the "father" of Italian Renaissance humanism has long been acknowledged, the specific meanings of his works and his legacy remain matters of controversy. Basic questions about the tension between his devotion to secular pursuits and his respect for religious withdrawal, about the authenticity of his ostensibly autobiographical writings, and about his relationship to scholasticism still provoke sustained debate. Rereading the Renaissance, a study of Petrarch's uses of Augustine, uses methods drawn from history and literary criticism to establish a framework for exploring Petrarch's humanism by approaching it through it central practices of reading and writing.
Carol Quillen argues that the essential role of Augustine's words and authority in the expression of Petrarch's humanism is best grasped through a study of the complex textual practices exemplified in the writings of both men. Petrarch's reliance on Augustine is most evident in his ways of reading and in his strategies of argument. Secondly, she maintains that Petrarch's appropriation of Augustine's words is only intelligible in light of his struggle to legitimate his cultural ideals in the face of compelling opposition. Finally, Quillen shows how Petrarch's uses of Augustine can simultaneously uphold his humanist ideals and challenge the legitimacy of the assumptions on which those ideals were founded.
Interdisciplinary in scope and method, this volume speaks to important debates that span the humanities. Scholars of literary and historical studies, as well as those in the fields of classical studies, patristics, and comparative literature, will find in Rereading the Renaissance a solid contribution to their interests.
Carol Everhart Quillen is Associate Professor of History, Rice University.
Sonnets and Shorter Poems
Francesco Petrarch Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PQ4496.E23S58 2012 | Dewey Decimal 851.1
In Petrarch’s hands, lyric verse was transformed from an expression of courtly devotion into a way of conversing with one’s own heart and mind. David Slavitt renders the sonnets in Il Canzoniere, along with the shorter madrigals and ballate, in a sparkling and engaging idiom and in rhythm and rhyme that do justice to Petrarch’s achievement.
Who during the Renaissance could have dissented from the values of reason and restraint, patience and humility, rejection of the worldly and the physical? These widely articulated values were part of the inherited Christian tradition and were reinforced by key elements in the Renaissance, especially the revival of Stoicism and Platonism. This book is devoted to those who did dissent from them. Richard Strier reveals that many long-recognized major texts did question the most traditional values and uncovers a Renaissance far more bumptious and affirmative than much recent scholarship has allowed.
The Unrepentant Renaissance counters the prevalent view of the period as dominated by the regulation of bodies and passions, aiming to reclaim the Renaissance as an era happily churning with surprising, worldly, and self-assertive energies. Reviving the perspective of Jacob Burckhardt and Nietzsche, Strier provides fresh and uninhibited readings of texts by Petrarch, More, Shakespeare, Ignatius Loyola, Montaigne, Descartes, and Milton. Strier’s lively argument will stir debate throughout the field of Renaissance studies.
The Worlds of Petrarch
Giuseppe Mazzotta Duke University Press, 1993 Library of Congress PQ4540.M37 1993 | Dewey Decimal 851.1
At the center of Petrarch's vision, announcing a new way of seeing the world, was the individual, a sense of the self that would one day become the center of modernity as well. This self, however, seemed to be fragmented in Petrarch's work, divided among the worlds of philosophy, faith, and love of the classics, politics, art, and religion, of Italy, France, Greece, and Rome. In recent decades scholars have explored each of these worlds in depth. In this work, Giuseppe Mazzotta shows for the first time how all these fragmentary explorations relate to each other, how these separate worlds are part of a common vision. Written in a clear and passionate style, The Worlds of Petrarch takes us into the politics of culture, the poetic imagination, into history and ethics, art and music, rhetoric and theology. With this encyclopedic strategy, Mazzotta is able to demonstrate that the self for Petrarch is not a unified whole but a unity of parts, and, at the same time, that culture emerges not from a consensus but from a conflict of ideas produced by opposition and dark passion. These conflicts, intrinsic to Petrarch's style of thought, lead Mazzotta to a powerful rethinking of the concepts of "fragments" and "unity" and, finally, to a new understanding of the relationship between them.