Petrarch: Poet and Humanist

Petrarch: Poet and Humanist

Petrarch: Poet and Humanist

Petrarch: Poet and Humanist

Excerpt

The subtitle of this book -- 'Poet and Humanist' -- points to the two-- fold source of Petrarch's fame, and at the same time to his bilingualism. For if Petrarch's enduring fame as a poet rests on his lyric verse in Italian, he owes his high place in the history of humanism to the powerful influence, in his own time and through the following century, of his Latin writings in defence and illustration of the classical tradition. Hence in chapter2 I study Petrarch the poet mainly in and through the Canzoniere of Italian lyrics; and Petrarch the humanist in and through the Latin works discussed in chapter 3; where, if the epic Africa gets an entire section to itself, this is only inasmuch as it expresses aspects of the poet's thinking about human nature. In a sense, however, the linguistic difference between the texts considered in chapters 2 and 3 is unimportant, and what matters is that in the one they are actual poems but in the other only indications of a line of thought, a theme.

This difference means that the textual material is regarded successively from two quite distinct points of view, literary-critical in chapter 2, broadly biographical in chapter 3; the focus in the former being on a particular sequence of achieved 'artefacts', but in the latter on the mind behind them. It is of course the same mind, but in chapter 3 it is viewed at one remove from the art-objects, the poems that had been the primary consideration in chapter 2. In chapter 3, then, I do not study Petrarch with the concrete particularity appropriate to chapter 2, where (after section 1) attention is given to this or that idea or emotion only as transmuted precisely into this or that poem -- where, in short, the focus is on his mind only as productive of certain artistic effects. By contrast, in chapter 3 the only particularisations allowed are those imposed by distinguishing, within the same theme of Petrarch's 'humanism', the various aspects of it studied successively in sections 1--4. In this sense the biographical perspective will be found to widen as we pass from the poet-artist to the humanist -- though the fact may be masked to some extent by the necessary, but always here subordinate, consideration of the biographical factors in the Canzoniere.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.