Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Structure of Petrarch's 'Canzoniere': A Chronological Psychological and Stylistic Analysis

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Structure of Petrarch's 'Canzoniere': A Chronological Psychological and Stylistic Analysis

Article excerpt

Frederic J. Jones, The Structure of Petrarch's `Canzoniere.- A Chronological, Psychological and Stylirtic Anaysis (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, I995). xii + ; 328 pp.; 5 plates; 7 diagrams. ISBN o-85991-41o. L39.50

In this book Frederic J. Jones re-opens the difficult and uncertain question of the chronology of Petrarch's Canzoniere and proposes an additional method to those hitherto adopted of dating the love-poems of Part I. This method involves an application of the model provided by catastrophe theory to the dynamics of emotion in the Petrarchan situation of unrequited love. Part I of the Canzoniere, according to Jones, provides evidence of a succession of six cycles, each marked by growing desire followed by discouragement and swinging back to hope. These cycles and their dates can, he claims, be identified, using the already datable poems and other biographical material (the `anniversary poems' are particularly important here), and marked on a graph, on to which the remaining love-poems can be plotted. These are put into a particular cycle on the basis of literary, biographical or textual considerations, while their place in the cycle corresponds to the type of mood or emotion each poem is understood to express. The graph which results from this shows an exceptionally high concentration of poems assigned to the years 1342-3 (the fifth of the six cycles).

The main body of the book contains a detailed discussion of the dating of the poems placed in each cycle in turn. This is followed by two chapters discussing the implications of this dating for an understanding of Petrarch's poetic and stylistic development. …

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