Picta Poesis: Literary and Humanistic Theory in Renaissance Emblem Books

Picta Poesis: Literary and Humanistic Theory in Renaissance Emblem Books

Picta Poesis: Literary and Humanistic Theory in Renaissance Emblem Books

Picta Poesis: Literary and Humanistic Theory in Renaissance Emblem Books

Excerpt

As any Renaissance emblem writer could tell you -- even an average one who, like everyone else, had looked into Horapollo and Aelianus -- the phoenix renews itself every 500 years, just when it is supposed to be most moribund. This book deals with a vast corpus of literature which is in the process of being restored in the fifth century since its appearance, proving the emblematist's two claims for the phoenix: "Perit ne pereat" and "Vritur, vt vivat." The book, along with some recent articles by the present writer (v. infra, note 4), is a modest boost to that resurgence. Since there are few libraries in Europe and America with working collections of emblemata, which have been dispersed rather than assembled, we have been fortunate to be able to work for several years with the collection in the Houghton Library of Harvard University and more briefly in the Warburg Institute of the University of London. Mr. Philip Hofer and his staff as well as Dr. Bing and her associates have courteously facilitated these investigations.

In view of the chaotic condition of the bibliography of emblem literature before that date, the appearance in 1947 of the excellent census by Professor Mario Praz of the University of Rome furnished an invaluable tool which eliminated the long-standing bibliographical deterrent to emblem study. We shall be somewhat lenient at times in accepting borderline titles into the category of emblem books. For example, Praz rules that it is inappropriate to accept as such Brant's Stultifera Navis. Yet we do so, pointing out that this rich theme reappeared elsewhere in emblem literature, as in the Emblemata moralia of Horozco y Covaruvias. Despite such minor divergences, our debt to Praz is a tremendous one which must be acknowledged at the outset. Indeed, it was Praz's interest in this project which led to its acceptance for publication in Rome.

Naturally, we have not always had access to first editions. The editions we have used are of course indicated in our footnotes. Frequently, however . . .

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