Renaissance Literature

Renaissance Literature

Renaissance Literature

Renaissance Literature

Excerpt

This century, like a golden age, has restored to light the liberal
arts … achieving what had been honoured among the
ancients, but almost forgotten since. (Marsilio Ficino, 1482)

THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT

The 'Renaissance' (meaning 'rebirth') describes the movement which saw renewed European interest in classical culture between the late fourteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. Having initially sought to emulate the achievements of the Greek and Roman empires, Renaissance scholars and artists later sought to out-do their ancient predecessors, and therefore engaged in fresh intellectual and artistic exploration. The origins of the 'Renaissance' have been hotly debated but most scholars agree that it originated in late fourteenth-century Italy, where it was fostered by a new generation of humanist scholars. Its influence was gradually felt all across Europe, reaching England by the early sixteenth century. The specific term 'Renaissance' (or rinascita) was first used by Italian art historian Giorgio Vasari in his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters (1550) to describe the achievements of recent artists; achievements he saw as marking a revival in the arts, after a period of long decay following the fall of the Roman Empire. Not until the nineteenth century was the term used more broadly to describe the period and . . .

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