Petrarch's Secretum: With Introduction, Notes, and Critical Anthology

Petrarch's Secretum: With Introduction, Notes, and Critical Anthology

Petrarch's Secretum: With Introduction, Notes, and Critical Anthology

Petrarch's Secretum: With Introduction, Notes, and Critical Anthology

Synopsis

A fresh translation of Petrarch's "Secretum" with critical apparatus and an anthology of representative critical essays from the best scholarship on this work since the turn of the century. This fundamental document in the history of Humanism is placed within its historical and scholarly tradition, with attention to its relevance to the modern age.
The "Secretum" and the critical anthology show how Petrarch's literary consciousness, attitude toward ancient writers, and change in literary taste mark the dawn of a new civilization and the forming of an aesthetic ideal that will be accepted for many centuries in Europe.

Excerpt

The importance of Petrarch and his works for the history of humanism and Western European literature has been recognized by eminent scholars from all periods and many nations. There can be no doubt of the central role of Petrarch in fostering a most decisive turn in the history of European humanities and aesthetics, one that continues to affect our literary sensitivity and practices. The complexity of this first humanist, his lively literary consciousness, the many changes he fostered in literary taste, his thoughts and convictions about poetry, and his attitude toward ancient writers reveal clearly the dawn of a new civilization and the formation of an aesthetic ideal that would play a dominant role for many centuries in Europe.

Petrarch's work has attracted the interest of so many scholars that few methods of approach have been left unexplored. In the course of time many of the approaches have become problematic; often scholars have come to a consensus on the interpretation of a given work only to have the next generation of researchers abandon it. New methodologies such as structuralism and semiotics have been developed and invite fresh examination of Petrarch's work. There is always the demand for more reliable texts and for more precise biographical information. For one first beginning his study of Petrarch the impression is that of a vast sea of scholarship.

Critics have always been most attentive to Petrarch's Italian work, but the Latin texts have received their share of attention though we still do not have critical editions for many of the texts. The Secretum has always been considered to be among the most important of the Latin texts because it provides invaluable insight into Petrarch's spiritual formation and development and displays the moral persuasiveness of his early humanistic ideals. Guided by Christian truth and the wisdom of the ancients, Petrarch explores what his attitude toward the world should be and tries at least to establish correct principles for the conduct of his life. Petrarch's stress on the concept of living a moral life within the secular life, without forgetting or foregoing the double guiding light of ancient wisdom and Christian truth, seems to find new relevance today, especially within . . .

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