Virgil and the Myth of Venice: Books and Readers in the Italian Renaissance

Virgil and the Myth of Venice: Books and Readers in the Italian Renaissance

Virgil and the Myth of Venice: Books and Readers in the Italian Renaissance

Virgil and the Myth of Venice: Books and Readers in the Italian Renaissance

Synopsis

This book, which is the first comprehensive study of its subject, shows that the Roman poet Virgil played an unexpectedly significant role in the shaping of Renaissance Venetian culture. Drawing on reception theory and the sociology of literature, it argues that Virgil's poetry became a best-seller because it sometimes challenged, but more often confirmed, the specific moral, religious, and social values of the Venetian readers.

Excerpt

I am grateful to a number of institutions and individuals for supporting this project in various ways. This kind of work cannot be done without travel to the sources and time to write, and I am grateful to the Delmas Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies for funds. Additional support came from the Departments of English and of Modern and Classical Languages, and from the College of Liberal Arts, at Texas A&M University, and support of another but equally valuable nature came from the Interlibrary Loan Service at the University's Sterling B. Evans Library. Among the individuals who have answered my requests for information, read sections of the book, and written letters on my behalf, I would like to single out Lilian Armstrong, Daniel Bornstein, Douglas Brooks, A. C. de la Mare, Rona Goffen, Paul Grendler, Daniel Javitch, Margaret King, Alexander McKay, Ray Petrillo, Patricia Phillippy, Wayne Rebhorn, Margaret Rosenthal, and Warren Tresidder. I am also grateful to Charles Martindale and to three other anonymous readers engaged by Oxford University Press for a number of very helpful suggestions. The merits of the following study are due in part to these people, while the shortcomings, of course, are entirely my own. Finally, the friendship of Marino and Rosella Zorzi deserves special mention; not only have they provided invaluable scholarly guidance and support, but they have made Venice a place of warm and lasting memories for me.

In this study, names of scholars and printers generally appear in the form most commonly used today. I have preferred a Latin form in discussions of those who wrote in Latin and an Italian form for those who wrote in the volgare, but I have ultimately favoured intelligibility over consistency here. Usage of i/j and u/v has been adjusted to modern standards; otherwise my quotations from early texts preserve the original orthography but not the vagaries of Renaissance punctuation and capitalization. Translations are my own unless otherwise indicated.

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