In the world above they were offered, through this office of the Church, the possibility of confession and remission of sins. We may infer that those sinners whom we find in Hell probably did not avail themselves of their great opportunity. We never hear the word 'confession' on the lips of any of them except for Guido da Montefeltro [ Inf.
And he, having confessed and become a friar, then sins again and is condemned. His second [and vain] confession is made, too late, to Dante. This moment offers a brief but cogent vision of human perversity: in their lives all those whom we see in hell had the opportunity to be rid of their sins by owning up to them in confession. They apparently did not do so. Here, in hell, what is the very first thing that they do? They make full disclosure of their sins Dante has apparently conflated the general function of Minos as judge of the dead in general Aen.
The mechanical nature of Minos's judgment — he is a judge who renders judgment with his tail, not his head — underlines the lack of authority of the demons in hell: Minos is merely doing God's work. Hell is presented as a perfectly functioning bureaucracy. If some of Satan's minions are at times rebellious e. IX, the winged demons in Inf. Hell, too, is a part of God's kingdom. Once the narrated action of Dante's descent continues it had been suspended at v.
Minos, seeing a rarity, to say the least — a living man before him at the entrance to hell — steals a moment from his incessant judgment to offer this warning. How kindly are his intentions? Most commentators seem to think he is the most 'humane' of the infernal demons, and even courteous to Dante. However, and as Padoan points out comm. He would obviously prefer not to have such visitors. Commentators customarily note that here Dante builds his line out of two sources: Aeneid VI. The adverb pur in Virgil's response can be variously understood: as 'vainly' with the sense of the Latin frustra ; as 'indeed' in the sense of 'why do you persist in?
Our translation has tried to accommodate the first two possibilities. Virgil obviously understands that Minos's words were meant to scare Dante off and perhaps he also understands the implicit insult to himself contained in them. For the repetition here of the exact same verses 23 and 24 used to quell Charon's rebellious desires see Inf. It seems clear that Virgil would not have used them again had they not been efficacious the first time, that is, had Charon not relented and rowed Dante across. See the note to Inf. Here the present tense is an example of the 'historical' or 'vivid' present.
The 'hellscape' that is established by the sounds in the darkness once again Dante's eyes need to adjust to the deepening shadows mates well with the sin of lust: darkness, passionate winds in conflict that bear their victims in unceasing agitation. The dark and tempestuous 'hellscape' is a fit background for the sin of lust, carried out in darkness at least in the common imagining amidst the storms of passion.
For a passage that Dante surely knew and which might have had some effect on his shaping of this scene, see II Peter , the apostle Peter's denunciation of the lustful. It has become fashionable to speak of Dante's use of 'synaesthesia,' the blending of different sense impressions see, e.
The term, however, was coined some years later in literary history. Dante would perhaps have referred to the trope rather as 'catachresis,' a daring, even 'improper,' comparison. And see Inferno I. One of the most debated verses in this canto because of the words la ruina literally, 'the ruin'. What precisely do they mean? Mineo points out that there have been six identifiable schools of interpretation for the meaning of la ruina.
Unfortunately, there are severe problems associated with all of them.
Many American and some Italian students of the problem have been drawn to Singleton's solution comms. The resultant explanation is so attractive that even many of those who doubt its literal applicability do not wish to jettison it. However, it does remain extremely dubious, as many rightly point out, that Dante would, for the only time in his poem, place the 'antecedent' necessary to a word's clear literal sense seven cantos after its first appearance.
A grammatical approach, however, yields still other difficulties. Who are these people who are arriving 'before the ruin'? Are they those who are being driven on the wind in the preceding tercet grammatically the most probable reading? If that is true, Dante would at least seem to be contradicting what he will shortly say Inf.
However, what he says there is only that their plight will never be ameliorated — a phrasing that might allow for its aggravation, as we would be witnessing here. Others, most trenchantly Padoan comm. The result of this interpretation is, as is the case for Singleton's, welcome but unlikely: we have a 'flashback,' as it were, to what happens when the newly arrived souls not the ones we have just been observing first reach this depth. And so that solution, too, seems dubious on grammatical grounds. And then, again following Mazzoni, one argues that the meaning here is not 'ruin,' but the secondary meaning of the word, 'fury, violence.
Petrocchi La Commedia secondo l'antica vulgata , Inferno , pp. The position of a translator who does not have a clear idea of what the original means is an impossible one. We chose the path taken by Mazzoni, translating ruina as 'violence,' before we consulted his work. The main reason for doing so is grammatical: all the verb tenses of this scene that describe the actions or reactions of the sinners are in the present vv. Thus it seems incorrect to attempt to mark a temporal shift in the action that is not reflected in the text. If the tense of the verb giungono were past instead of present, Mazzoni's solution would seem optimal.
But there is no instance of a single variant of the verb in the manuscript tradition. Thus, as things stand, there seems to be no optimal solution. Par quoi on se doit estudiier que raisons soit sor la concupiscence , en tel maniere que l'un et l'autre desirent de bien faire. The first two similes of the canto and see the third one, Inf. The first vast group of the 'ordinary' lovers T. Eliot's typist and house agent's clerk in the Waste Land , vv. For the Virgilian source, see Aeneid VI. The group in the second simile of the canto is more select, the 'stars' of lustful living.
Where the starlings are as though without individual identities, the 'masses' of the lustful, as it were, each of these has a particularity and a certain fame, and is thus worthy of being treated as exemplary. For a discussion of exemplary literature in the middle ages see Carlo Delcorno, Exemplum e letteratura tra medioevo e rinascimento Bologna: Il Mulino, , with special attention to Dante, pp.
The evidence for such a view does not seem present in the text. For the cranes see Virgil, Aeneid X. The rhyme words lai and guai suggest a relationship between the French tradition of love songs Padoan, comm. The cranes are imagined as singing their sad songs of love much as these sinners are presented as drawing sighs of love-sickness, their 'poetry,' as it were.
This is the second important 'catalogue' that we find in Inferno. The first was the forty identified inhabitants of Limbo see the note to Inf. In the circle of lust we find these seven identified sinners and two more: Francesca and Paolo, who bring the total to nine. As Curtius argued quite some time ago, given the importance for Dante of the number nine the 'number' of his beloved Beatrice , it seems likely that these nine souls who died for love are associated with her by opposition Ernst Robert Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages , tr.
It is also notable that Dante's catalogues are unlike and pronouncedly so in this case later humanist catalogues of the famous, which thrive on additions, in display of the most arrant 'erudition': the more the better seems to be the motto of such writers. Dante, on the other hand, frequently sculpts his groupings to a purpose. One of the insistent poetic topoi that we find in medieval writers — and certainly in Dante — is that of translatio. This is the notion that certain ideas or institutions have their major manifestations in movement through historical time and space.
The two most usually deployed examples of this topos are translatio imperii the movement of imperial greatness from Troy to Rome to 'new Rome' — wherever that may be in a given patriotic writer's imagination [in Dante's case the empireless Rome of his own day] and translatio studii the development of serious intellectual pursuit from its birth in Athens, to its rebirth in Rome, to its new home [Paris, according to some, in Dante's day]. It is perhaps useful to think of Dante's catalogues as reflecting a similar sense of history, of movement through time and space.
In this one we have three triads: Semiramis, Dido, Cleopatra: lustful queens of the African coast; Helen, Achilles, Paris: Greek and Trojan lovers whose lusts brought down a kingdom; Tristan; Francesca, Paolo: a man caught up in destructive passion in King Mark's court in Cornwall, as we move into Europe and toward the present; and, finally, lovers from the recent past in Rimini, here in Italy.
Semiramis was the legendary queen of Assyria Dante has confused the name of her capital, Babylon, for that of the Egyptian city, and thus misplaced her realm. She was supposed to have legalized incest in order to carry out her sexual liaison with her son. Dante's use of periphrasis circumlocution represents one of his favored 'teaching techniques,' in which he generally, but certainly not always offers his readers fairly easy problems to solve.
There is not, it seems reasonable to believe, a single commentator or student? The 'Dido' that we scribble in our margins stands out from the page, partly because it is we who have supplied the name. That Dido is the quintessential presence in this 'flock' is underlined by Inferno V. Dido's presence here frequently upsets readers who think that she ought to be found in canto XIII, since she committed suicide. It is clear that Dante thinks of the psychology of sin with a certain sophistication, isolating the impulse, the deeper motive, that drives our actions from the actions themselves.
In Dido's case this is her uncontrolled desire for Aeneas. She does not kill herself from despair as do the suicides in the thirteenth canto , but rather to give expression to her need for her lover — or so Dante would seem to have believed. Virgil's similar one-line description of Dido's 'infidelity' occurs at Aeneid IV. For Dante's knowledge that Cleopatra committed suicide by having an asp bite her, see Par. And see the note to Inferno V.
It is important to remember that Dante, Greekless, had not read Homer, who only became available in Latin translation much later in the fourteenth century. His Achilles is not the hero of the Iliad known to some of us, but the warrior-lover portrayed by Statius and others. For mille one thousand here and elsewhere in the poem see Baldelli, Dante e Francesca Ravenna: Longo, , p. The echo of the first line of the poem Inf. Dante was lost 'midway in the journey of our life' and, we will later learn, some of his most besetting problems arose from misplaced affection.
He was, indeed, near death as a result of his transgressions. The repetition of the word smarrito to describe Dante's distraught condition also recalls the first tercet of the poem Inf. Here we can see an emerging pattern in his re-use of key words from previous contexts in order to enhance the significance of a current situation in the poem. See also Inferno II.
Dante refers to the great figures of the olden days with strikingly anachronistic terms, the medieval 'ladies and knights' emphasizing the continuity of the historical record. No 'humanist' writer would be likely to use such a locution that so dramatically erases the gap between classical antiquity and the present age. Mazzoni claims that the canto is divided into two precise halves vv. It is surely true that the rest of the canto — its second half — is devoted mainly and essentially to Francesca.
To be 'light upon the wind' is, to some readers, a sign of Francesca's and Paolo's noble ability to triumph over their dismal surroundings; to others, it indicates that they are driven even more wildly than some other shades by the winds of passion. This first detail begins a series of challenging phrasings that invite the reader to consider closely the ambiguities of the entire episode.
And for a thorough consideration of the history of interpretation of the episode of Francesca see A. Quaglio, 'Francesca' ED. Virgil's only complete tercet in the second half of the canto see the note to Inf. The protagonist's adjective for the two sinners they are 'anime affannate ' may well be meant to remind us of the only other time we find that adjective in the first cantica , at Inferno I. If that is true, it further binds the character's sense of identity with these sinners. The third simile involving birds in this canto and there are only three similes in it compares the two lovers to doves.
Dante's nest-seeking doves seem to reflect both Aeneid V. The beginning of Francesca's highly rhetorical speech reflects the tradition of classical rhetoric that would have a speaker first seek to gain the sympathy of the audience, a device referred to as captatio benevolentiae , the capturing of the goodwill of one's auditors. For noteworthy earlier examples of captatio see Beatrice's first words to Virgil Inf. This canto has one of its 'key words' in amore , which occurs fully eleven times in it vv.
But this word, 'pity,' is crucial as well vv. Dante is filled with pity for lost lovers. Should he be? That may be the central question facing a reader of Inferno V see further discussion, below, in the note to Inf. The three main editorial constructions of this contested phrase of Francesca are as follows: it reads either 1 si tace becomes silent ; or 2a ci tace grows quiet here ; or 2b ci tace grows quiet for our sake. That is a sensible understanding, but either of the others might have been what Dante wrote.
For the Italian text with an English translation of Boccaccio's Francesca-favoring narrative, in his Esposizioni , see Singleton, comm. The use of anaphora repetition here at the beginning of each tercet, 'Amor It seems also reasonable to believe that Francesca is here referring to her 'god,' the Lord of Love, Cupid, whose name is 'Amor. This verse is much debated. Even better, Holmes's careful study of selected manuscripts proved to offer much new information and cogent discussion on two related topics: the transition from oral to written composition and presentation, and the concomitant development of the poet's persona by means of the sequencing of poems to create an autobiographical narrative.
Holmes frames her study as an argument against the widespread notion that Petrarch invented the "author-ordered, first-person" lyric sequence 3 that presents the poet's literary person via "an aggregate of inferences" 4. This mistaken assumption, Holmes says, derives from the historical failure of scholarship to pay sufficient attention to manuscript sequencing, prose bridges, and other layout clues. By the simple but rarely chosen expedient of reading Occitan and Italian lyrics in their manuscript contexts, Holmes is able to show that rather than inventing the implied-author biography, Petrarch was rather the heir of a gradually developed tradition.
The story begins, for Holmes, with Uc de Saint Circ, an early thirteenth-century Occitan troubadour who lived most of his adult life in Treviso. He may well have been responsible for much of the flurry of compiling activity occurring in northern Italy during his lifetime, and for the composition of the vidas and razos that accompany the manuscript collections of ostensibly oral lyrics.
Following Zumthor, critics have naturally assumed that the purpose of the vidas and razos was to personalize or individualize the lyric "I" on the page, where it is unnaturally divorced from the physical presence of the singer-author troubadour. In reality, as Holmes demonstrates, these prose additions act as palinodes, "draw[ing] attention to the figure of the poet as a liar or artificer" Counterintuitively focussing on a manuscript that happens to be wholly devoid of prose palinodes as well as of any graphic enhancement, Holmes makes her point about Uc as a self-conscious writer by showing how sequencing alone implies a persona and a life history.
Unlike Uc, who was presumably an oral composer, Guittone d'Arezzo was clearly a writer and "explicitly ordered [his poems] into thematic or narrative cycles" 48 to tell a life story turning on a religious conversion apparently based on Augustine's Confessions. As with Uc's palinodes, however, "the entire collection implicitly undermines Guittone's conversion, since the love poems [. For Holmes, Guittone's creation of a macrotext from a lifetime of lyric production set a precedent for subsequent thirteenth- and fourteenth-century canzonieri.
This fact is shown in Holmes's discussion of Vaticano Latino ms. V , a multi-author anthology embedding many single-author sequences that Holmes concludes are author-ordered, based on her observations of "formal or thematic connectors" Rustico Fillippi, for example, links sonnets into a fixed order by enchaining their rhyme schemes.
Monte Andrea creates fictive tenzoni to connect short, lyric sequences. A long, anonymous corona is linked with, among other devices, the interlocking repetition of key words and motifs. As Florentine literary culture was thus thriving, Guittone's contemporary, the last Occitan troubadour Guiraut Riquier, was compiling an autobiographical libre. Beginning with a self-conscious rubric alluding to the autograph manuscript, Riquier's libre presents his lyrics in alleged chronological order, each dated and numbered "in order to make them tell a story, to mimic change and motion, [.
The poems are also frequently enchained with the "elaborate metrical schemes" that became possible with written composition and transmission , and even a sequence in the most conventional lyric genre, the pastorella, is given autobiographical weight by the conceit that the knight is Riquier himself, and the two shepherdesses a mother-daughter pair whom he courts in sequence over more than twenty years. At about the same time, a younger contemporary of Guittone and Riquier was expanding many of these lyric-sequence conventions in his Vita nova.
Holmes argues that young Dante Alighieri, taking the Gospel of John as his model, superimposed "a literary vision of reality in which things and events are interpreted as signs," onto the now conventional lyric sequence, with the innovation of the prosimetrum form.
Despite these radical departures from received tradition, "Dante's lyric sequence consists of a repertoire of conventional situations and amorous dilemmas" that recalls the anonymous corona of ms. V, previously discussed The poems are, in fact, so extremely conventional that "[i]t is the prose that does the work of increasing their levels of meaning and of making their allegorical meanings explicit, that is, of making them 'new'" From earlier canzonieri, he took the fiction that the book is a transcription of a live performance.
Olivia Holmes's chief contribution to the study of Italian lyric surely lies in her evidence of a strong continuity of tradition, but she does not conduct her argument without close readings of the text, which will be of interest in their own right. Nor does her argument for continuity in any way detract from the achievements of Dante and Petrarch. While they learned from earlier and contemporary poets and canzonieri, Holmes is always quick to remind us that the quality of their verse and their vision was on a level quite beyond that of their colleagues.
I, for one, appreciate these two giants all the more, now that Holmes has reconstructed the paving of their road by their predecessors. If Assembling the Lyric Self could be said to disappoint in any way, it would be in its surprising omission to note any humor in the poetic corpus it examines so carefully. Holmes's decision to focus exclusively on the love and religious lyrics precludes forays into the comic and satiric poems, of course, but one does wonder from time to time, reading her earnest discussions of apparently thoroughly solemn canzoni, sonnets, tenzoni, and pastorellas, if the love lyrics especially weren't a bit more playful than she would have them.
A study of the witty and whimsical aspects of the same poetic corpus, if conducted with the same high standards as the book under review, would likely discover additional and complementary evidence for self-conscious authorship in Petrarch's predecessors. Le origini della lingua poetica indeuropea. Voce coscienza e transizione neolitica.
Firenze: Olschki, The work examined here seems to be rara avis these days. The impression, conveyed already in the title, is confirmed in the "Preface," in which the author firmly champions the legitimacy of overcoming the particularistic approach, dictated by an undue preoccupation with individual methodologies and specific up-to-date contributions, and the necessity of delving in the problems and themes themselves.
The extensive monograph is structured in a "reconstruction of the forms" and a "reconstruction of the values. In the first part, an overview of the early studies on the origins of the Indo-European poetic language is traced back to its origins in the German scholarship of the nineteenth century. The second part directly examines and reconsiders the main issue that a scholar has to face nowadays in the light of our present knowledge.
In an effort to define the epistemological setting of comparative linguistics today, the author proposes a "systemic model" modello sistemico which draws from such concepts as Bateson's application of the principle of entropy to a theory of the Mind and Nature, Korzybski's notion of "map" and "territory", and finally on Bohr's complementarity principle. The historical or rather, pre-historical and proto-historical section that follows, "Le origini indeuropee," focuses on the possible time frame of the Indo-European diaspora: the early third millennium B.
Seemingly abstract and often poised on minute linguistic questions for instance, the analogy between the Greek formula kleos aphthiton, "incorruptible glory," and its Vedic equivalent these studies are a reflection on the meaning of those language forms that shape the world views of Western civilization. Hilman puts it: "[. We may add that any such research ultimately aims at a hermeneutic contribution to the understanding of the cultural system that, in this century, has been variously referred to as Welt Heidegger , uncharted territory Wittgenstein , ideology Ferruccio Rossi-Landi , or labyrinth Borges.
To give a tangible example of some of the problems debated in the book, I will focus on an issue that is crucial in any research on the origins and character of the Indo-European poetic language: the oral vs. In other traditions, too, the magic character of script is variously alluded to see, for instance, the reference to the Druids in Caesar's Bellum Gallicum VI: 14, as well as mythical narratives.
Particularly suggestive, in this respect, is the story of Bellerophontes as told in the Iliad VI: The hero, victim of the treachery of a woman in a situation comparable to the Biblical episode of Joseph and Potiphar's wife , is given a scroll with some "ominous signs" semata lygra , which are meant to cause indirectly his death. This is the only Homeric passage in which writing is mentioned: the context is the initiation of a hero, who with his force, courage, and cunning eventually prevails over his enemies. A subject closely related to the above topic is the metrical aspect in the Indo-European poetic tradition see, in this regard, the very recent contribution by Morris Halle, "On Stress and Accent in Indo-European," Language 73 : The issue is often discussed in the context of the possibility, or impossibility, of reconstructing an even partial framework that is common to the different languages, see the debate among Enrico Campanile, Marcello Durante, and Calvert Watkins It is highly significant in this context that in some Indo-European languages, like Sanskrit, Greek, and possibly Latin, the linguistic accent was musical in nature, namely, it was based on variations in pitch, not differences in expiration as in the case of the dynamic accent of modern languages.
The reflection on the musical character of poetry could well lead into the direction of the psychoanalytic investigations on the emotional dimension of language, a venue, however, usually disregarded whence its absence in Costa's book by scholars of Indo-European studies. In view of some very promising beginnings already with Freud's very insightful remarks on the opposite meanings of primitive words , such a gap between linguistic archaeology and psychology seems to be a highly regrettable one. Among the few exceptions is the masterful work of the not adequately known and recognized Hungarian psychologist and linguist Theodore Thass-Thienemann.
His book, The Interpretation of Language 1. Understanding the Symbolic Meaning of Language. Aronson, , now out of print, is a journey into the enchanted silva of multi-lingual etymologies, conducted with the confidence and originality of a Vico, who assimilated Indo-European linguistics as well as twentieth-century philosophy and psychoanalysis. By way of conclusion, I may note that the very extensive pages! I would simply add that, aside from the number of related works, Costa's work can still be viewed as rara avis for the nearly poetic sensibility of an extremely erudite work, in which the rather frequent literary citations appear as but the surface aspect of a deep empathy of the author with the subject of his research: the origins of Indo-European poetic language.
Nascita del sonetto. Metrica e matematica al tempo di Federico II. Ravenna: Longo, In the immortal words of W. Gilbert's Yum-Yum The Mikado , "here's a how-de-do! Lulled into a sense of comforting familiarity by its sober presentation and respectable publisher, the charming miniature on its cover, or the numerous illustrations reproduced from late medieval manuscripts in its first chapter, the literary scholar will scarcely fail to note - it may be with a certain disquiet - the proliferation of figures and statistical tables that begins in the book's opening pages.
It all seems to take us a long way indeed from the author's titular preoccupation, the "birth of the sonnet. Which, of course, is precisely the point. In order to do so, he has marshaled an astonishing variety of mainly non-literary evidence in support of a simple but dramatically original argument: that the sonnet takes the form that it does - fourteen lines of eleven syllables apiece, usually grouped into eight-line octave and six-line sestet - because its inventors were writing, at the Sicilian court of Frederick II in the early thirteenth century, in a cultural atmosphere suffused by the most advanced mathematical theories available at that time in the Christian West.
This is revolutionary stuff indeed. That being said, from a strictly literary point of view the book suffers from some serious problems. In essence these are structural: there is much more about matematica than metrica here, and the imbalance is not redressed by any very searching inquiry into the relationship between the two concepts, either in theory beyond the identification of the importance of certain numbers , or in practice through, say, the analysis of particular texts in which numerically-based disposition of syllables has a verifiable influence on poetic meaning.
He tells us that squaring the circle and the Golden Section are fascinating topics in mathematics, influential in art and architecture down to the present day, and we believe that too. Then, instead of clinching his argument by demonstrating the concrete significance of these connections for literary analysis, he contents himself with piling up evidence - much of it see the list above dubiously relevant to the invention of the sonnet or to any other aspect of medieval culture - for points he has already made.
Likewise, the book fails to deal with some fairly obvious potential objections to its thesis. Apart from the biographical question, which seems likely to remain unanswerable for lack of hard evidence we remain, that is, entitled to wonder just how much the poets at Frederick's court did actually know, or care, about mathematics , it might be asked why, if 11 and 14, or the ratio , are really so indispensably important to the invention of the sonnet, they seem to lose their indispensability so early in the subsequent development of the form?
It is not long after that the sonetto caudato appears, its extra lines putting an end to the ubiquity of A mere couple of centuries after that, sonnets begin to be written in non-Italian languages, and there goes the need for 11 replaced by the 10 syllables per line of English pentameter or the 12 of the French alexandrin. As for the ratio, it too ceases to be mandatory as early as the third quarter of the thirteenth century, with the replacement of the octave by the ten-line fronte devised by Guittone d'Arezzo and perfected by Monte Andrea. But some of his readers may find themselves wishing for rather fewer pictures, however pretty, and rather more - and more incisive - discussion of literary texts.
Steven Botterill, University of California, Berkeley. Reading Dante's Stars. New Haven: Yale UP, Alison Cornish has written an elegant, erudite, and engaging little book. Yet despite its remarkable learnedness and the difficulty of the subject matter, it is simply and lucidly written. The numerous Latin citations are generally translated into graceful English, with the original text given only in the notes. The book is easily readable, unlike, perhaps, the stars that it describes. Cornish tackles as her subject Dante's invocations of astronomical learning, including some of the most notoriously difficult passages in the Commedia.
We Dante scholars are frequently tempted, out of a mixture of laziness and humanist snobbery, to give short shrift to the poem's scientific and technical aspects. The writings of John Freccero first taught many of us, however, that understanding the science of the age increases, rather than diminishes, the poem's beauty. Cornish shows how astronomy has everything to do with its beauty, but also with its meaning, and how form and content are one inseparable package, by reading the astronomical references contextually, in terms of the narrative or thematic moments in which they appear.
Two basic ideas with which she begins and to which she repeatedly returns are that: 1 in Dante's world view, the stars are concrete representations of eternal ideas, exempla of the spiritual order that governs the universe by the power of love; and 2 Dante's astronomy is not simply aesthetic but also ethical, inasmuch as it demands a personal application and interpretation.
The constellations are invitations to virtue, serving to remind us of what we ought to do and requiring us to opt for the good. The volume is divided into an introduction, eight chapters, and a brief conclusion. The chapters are generally based on the explication of a single astronomical invocation or a short series of related references.
Aristotle posited a First Mover who set the cosmos in motion by being desired. The behavior of the material universe is analogous, in the microcosm, to the human appetitive faculties. With each description of the celestial wheels, "the reader is made to stand before the universe [. Chapter 2 takes on the date of the pilgrim's journey and the apparent discrepancy between Dante's astrology and the "real" positions of the planets on Maundy Thursday , showing how Dante's "false" astronomical description of spring yokes the journey's fictional beginning to Easter and to the anniversary of the creation of the world.
Chapter 3 discusses three literary references to farmers as readers of the stars Inferno 20, 24, and 26 which stand as symbolic positive alternatives to antiquity's deluded soothsayers and rash sailors whose excessive curiosity led them to precipitous disaster. Chapter 4 analyzes the elaborate astronomical periphrase at the opening of Purgatorio 9 which refers to the contemporaneousness of nighttime in Purgatory and dawn in Italy, on the other side of the world, inviting the reader to compare "there" and "here," the corrective afterlife with our present sinful state.
In Chapter 5, Cornish moves on to the Paradiso, where the astronomical descriptions generally lose their function as time-markers, to become metaphorical representations of spiritual abstractions.
- The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley.
- Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic.
- God’s Little Book of Hope (Gods Little Book Of...).
In Chapter 6, she examines the imaginative exercise, in which the poet asks the reader to participate in Paradiso 13, of reshaping selected stars into a new configuration in order to activate the image of the Trinity in the individual soul. Chapter 7 examines, rather, the relation between the traveler's vision of nine concentric circles wheeling around a fixed point in Canto 28 and the homocentric Aristotelian universe. The astronomical image focuses on the momentary balance of two planets on the horizon, one rising and one setting, corresponding to the undecided state in which both sets of angels hesitated momentarily before making the single, irrevocable decision that set the universe in motion.
This final discussion brings Cornish neatly back, in the book's conclusion, to her original emphasis on observed celestial phenomena as texts that are open to different personal interpretations, and that demand the reader take a stand, choosing virtue and love. If this book has a limitation, it is that it gets a little bogged down at times in dry, technical discussions.
Despite the admittedly ambiguous nature of some of his imagery, Dante is almost always shown to think rationally, like a scientist or philosopher, and just what distinguishes him from his scholastic contemporaries may not always be adequately explained. But the fault may also lie in this reader's perhaps too-short attention span for issues that obviously fascinated both the poet and his contemporaries. Cornish's contribution is, without a doubt, an extremely useful and supremely original addition not a small feat in such an overcrowded field!
Andrea da Barberino and the Language of Chivalry. Gainesville: U of Florida P, Although the subject of this interesting study has never quite sunk altogether out of scholarly sight, it is probably safe to say that there will be relatively few readers outside Italy, other than specialists in his period c. In Italy, narratives based on his writings have at least enjoyed a prolonged afterlife in popular culture.
Even the specialists, however, have still not found decisive answers to many of the fundamental questions that might be asked about the output of any late medieval author: exactly which texts can safely or plausibly be attributed to him? What are the defining stylistic features of his writing? What precisely are the relations among the various manuscript witnesses to the dissemination of his works?
What are the generic and thematic connections of those works with their literary and cultural matrix? Thanks to Gloria Allaire's lucid and meticulous account of her pioneering work on Andrea's manuscript tradition, we are at last in a position to begin to answer all of these questions, and indeed to come to Andrea's work not only better informed but more sensitive to both its cultural significance and its specifically literary value.
Allaire begins at the most traditional of beginnings with an account of Andrea's "Life and Works" She then undertakes an analysis of "Andrea's Narrative Style" , identifying such key features as a "striving for verisimilitude" 14 , a "chronicle-like texture" 16 , an abiding interest in geography and genealogy, a "varied use of registers, shaped according to the particular narrative needs of a passage" 21 , frequent reference more so than might have been expected in the genre to the Latin classics and the liturgy, characteristic use of particular narrative and rhetorical formulae, and the presence of determinable devices of grammar and syntax such as polysyndeton.
Allaire is careful to acknowledge that several of these "hallmarks" 30 of Andrea's style are shared with many other late medieval authors and texts, and that their use as identifiers must therefore be subject to rigorous control. She is also under no illusions about the potential and potentially vast distance between author and manuscript, admitting, for instance, that the appearance of polysyndeton in a given text may easily have been created by a scribal rather than an authorial preference for, and insertion of, conjunctions Nonetheless, she makes a strong - because cautious - case for the definition of a recognizable style as characteristic of the authentic works of Andrea da Barberino, and, on that basis, sets out in subsequent chapters to determine several still controversial questions of attribution connected with his name.
Here the eponymous case is especially tricky because, codicologically speaking, there is no "there" there: the only surviving manuscript of the Prima Spagna, found in a Roman library in the early nineteenth century, was lost some time thereafter and has never resurfaced literally: it went down with the ship that was carrying it to Germany.
The only available evidence for its contents is therefore a set of rubrics transcribed from the manuscript before its ill-starred embarkation. Allaire examines these minutely, along with other surviving evidence of the manuscript's appearance, and concludes both that "[i]n addition to similarities of plot and characters, the lost Prima Spagna shares specific narrative motifs with the known works of Andrea" 36 , and that there is substantial evidence provided by the rubrics for the presence in the Prima Spagna of lexical items typical of Andrea's authentic works, but rarely if ever found in a control group of tre- and quattrocento Tuscan chivalric texts by other hands.
The next chapter, "The Case for Ansuigi La Seconda Spagna " , likewise begins from the lost Roman manuscript, arguing that the Seconda Spagna it contained is probably identifiable with an extant Storia di Ansuigi, re di Spagna, which in turn can be attributed to Andrea on the basis of lexical and stylistic analysis and comparison similar to those conducted in the previous chapter. Allaire does some admirable philological spadework here, clearing the ground of misconceptions and confusions introduced by earlier generations of scholars, and consistently handling her sometimes evanescent textual material with critical acumen and sound common sense.
She continues to exercise her skills in the following chapters, in which she argues first that the lengthy prose narrative known as the Storie di Rinaldo da Monte Albano is probably Andrea's, and then that the slightly less lengthy Libro di Rambaldo da Risa, occasionally assigned in the past to Andrea, probably is not. A brief conclusion expresses the hope that this book's establishment of more precise definitions of Andrea's style and canon will lead to "more thoughtful and comprehensive critical treatments" of his works which, it might be noted, Allaire herself would surely be very well equipped to provide.
The volume is rounded out by useful appendices that list extant manuscripts of Andrea's texts and supply a diplomatic transcription of a key extract from the proem to one of them. They also analyze the content of the disputed Rambaldo in comparison with that of Andrea's undisputed works, as well as provide thorough notes and bibliography. In every chapter, Allaire's basic method is to take a fine-tooth comb to the texts themselves, examining lexical and stylistic evidence with minute care, assessing individual texts in the light of a wide range of analogous contemporary material, taking full account of the variants and vagaries of the manuscript tradition, and restraining any impulse to push the ensuing argument beyond the limits of the possible, the likely, or the probable into the treacherous realm of the categorical.
It must be conceded that there are points at which particular claims or applications of method seem open to question - given the nature of the subject, it could scarcely be otherwise. But Allaire herself is well aware of the limitations inherent in her chosen approach; as a result, the effect of her painstaking accumulation of evidence and her refusal to squeeze that evidence harder than it can bear is, in the end, impressive enough in its own terms.
Unless they are prepared to deny the validity of the entire philological method itself which some, of course, will be readers who wish to challenge Allaire's conclusions will have to engage with the material in a fashion as methodologically responsible and as exhaustively detailed as her own, which they will not find easy. All in all, this book stands as a fine monument to a way of doing things in literary study which has fallen out of fashion in recent years, but whose value is likely to endure long beyond that of more modish forms of literary-critical practice that have taken its place.
By dint of great learning, subtle argument, and sheer hard work with texts, Allaire has been able to clarify confusion, dispel ignorance, and point the way toward deeper and more satisfying readings of a previously under-rated author. It is an achievement that any of us who call ourselves scholars might, and should, envy. Toronto: UP, Charles Klopp's Sentences: The Memoirs and Letters of Italian Political Prisoners from Benvenuto Cellini to Aldo Moro is an authoritative and insightful guide through the fascinating realm of confinement and its representation in literary expression.
With laudable economy of detail, Klopp situates each author in his or her respective historical milieu, provides the reader with pertinent biographical information, and balances the often intimate revelations of his subjects with his own distanced yet discerning reflections.
In his exposition of this literature that deals with some of humankind's darker moments, he highlights both its drama and pathos, while relieving his reader with an occasional amusing and even entertaining comment. His book, then, presents a kaleidoscopic vision of many separate and distinct portrayals of the experience of confinement, each linked by historical repetition and by a self-perpetuating network of intertextual allusions and themes.
One might argue that all genres Klopp is treating several: the epistolary genre, the memoir, and poetry possess textual prototypes and traditions or they would not be defined as such. Would all writers then be "captives" to precedent models? Setting aside the somewhat forced metaphor, I do agree that the shared imagery and the tendency to identify with past models are outstanding features of prison discourse and, as such, substantiate its designation as genre while investing it with something of an eternal quality.
This said, it should not be forgotten that prison writing is also influenced by the literary currents, trends, and values of the historical moment from which it emerges. Klopp has successfully integrated this notion into his discussion and thus illumined certain aspects of the Aldo Moro writings, for example, and those of Andrea Costa and the Communists. His book certainly whets the appetite for more of this type of analysis, which must obviously be minimized in a wide-ranging survey. Indeed, the strength of Sentences lies in its broad coverage of materials not easily accessed, but, nonetheless, brought forth with mastery.
The reader's understanding and appreciation of the more peculiar or distinctive tropes of prison narrative are advanced by Klopp's acute observations of the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of imprisonment. One such elucidation highlights the potentially paradoxical state of forced confinement in which bodily constraints may actually dispose the mind to a certain broadening, a heightened receptiveness, or even freedom. Klopp also points out that the reverse is possible, in that victims of confinement may be so traumatized, demoralized, or otherwise unable to adapt to captivity that they simply lose the powers of concentration or memory.
In this same spirit of mental and physical interplay, Klopp presents an interesting discussion of the "textualization of the body and the accompanying corporalization of the text" As he demonstrates with numerous examples, the suffering body itself can become a medium of expression "able to authenticate or subvert an accompanying or competing text" Whether it be writing in blood or on soiled bandages, the visible scars of torture or illness, or in the "dialectic of substitution and replacement" , the pathology of the prisoner is a graphic fixture of prison discourse.
Klopp's elaborations on this theme are extremely important not only to the study of these particular texts, but in furthering, from a socio-cultural perspective, our understanding of the role of captivity in human society. Any interpreter of highly subjective material must be faithful to the content of the text, that is, to the words each author has chosen to convey his or her thoughts. Klopp tells us, though, that he and the reader must also see what is not stated in the text.
He explains that prison writing consists of an ostensible text beneath which lies a "clandestine" or "unarticulated, secret" text which, in his view, is "more authentic" 10, than that which the author has in fact composed. Although I admire his line of reasoning and am equally intrigued by these authors' allusions to hidden or lost texts, suppressed emotions or ideas, censored fragments, and ineffable experiences, I do not agree that the unspoken text is somehow more authentic than the text which functions as its referent. If indeed a covert, though undefined, text is somehow implied within the overt text, the allusion itself must be seen as meaningful.
In a sense, the author has, consciously or subconsciously, invited the reader to speculation. In the altogether different case of writings in symbolic language, cryptic alphabets, acrostics, or even invisible ink, which are intended for a specific recipient, the question is not one of authenticity but of simply recognizing the symbiotic function of a foil text or, literally, a pretext and the coded message it harbors. He repeatedly refers to "inexpressible passion," "ineffable suffering" , "unexpressed affection" , "inexpressible texts of suffering and desire" 10 as if these experiences, common to all people, surpass the limits of human expression.
If that were the case, the world would have very few works of art, musical compositions, or books. Is it not in the act of writing, singing, painting, dancing, or remembering, whilst body and mind are engaged in the struggle to express, that the experience lives? Artistic expression is never finalized nor perfected, yet in that imperfection, it accurately reflects the human condition. Countless Holocaust scholars invariably refer to the unutterable nature of that horrific event, yet there, within the testimonies of each survivor, a voice speaks the unspeakable.
The nightmare, according to Primo Levi, himself a Holocaust witness, was not the "gruesome privilege of writing," but the fear that the world would not listen, or in his own ironic turn of phrase, that his would be an "unlistened-to story. In conclusion, I cannot neglect to mention what I perceive as a persistent source of distraction throughout Charles Klopp's otherwise masterful work.
The very title of his book, Sentences: The Memoirs and Letters of Italian Political Prisoners from Benvenuto Cellini to Aldo Moro, presents a troublesome issue in that neither Cellini nor Moro was a political prisoner by any definition of the term as it is understood today or, for that matter, in its prototypical sense. Since there exist slightly variant definitions of the term "political prisoner" presently vying for universal recognition, it seems all the more imperative that Klopp clarify his own interpretation in a way that remains consistent throughout his discussion.
The elasticity with which he treats this key term has spilled over onto other closely associated terms, such as the word "prison" itself. A convent or a ritiro as Mondragone was called in Caracciolo's case is not a prison, nor is a hospital for the mentally ill Tasso's case , although I am well aware not only of their historical associations with carceral institutions, but also of the many similar experiences that forced confinement in such places might produce.
However, some defining parameters must be drawn, or we could easily expand the discussion to include house arrests or any number of institutions from orphanages, schools, factories, retirement homes, military barracks, rehabilitation centers, and so on. For all of their Foucaultian similarities, these institutions are symbols of quite different social mechanisms, operating on distinct principles and generating their own logic and purpose, some with the aim of protecting society from the dangerous transgressor, others to protect, for example, the chaste nun or wayward juvenile from society and its contaminating evils.
Is the nun Enrichetta Caracciolo's erotic interest a "prison doctor" or a "convent doctor"? Klopp uses the words as if they were interchangeable , The reader is further baffled by the inclusion of a purely fictitious work the Pignata story , the letters of Red Brigades' hostage, Aldo Moro who committed no crime at all , and the cases of Cellini, Tasso, Casanova, and Caracciolo, whose offenses do not appear to be politically motivated.
Klopp's introductory remarks on Cellini, Tasso, and Casanova, in which he states that "these men were transgressive enough in their behavior for irritated ecclesiastical or civil authorities to decide they should go to jail" 12 , and are thus "precursors" to later political prisoners, do not, in my mind, serve the reader adequately nor bear the burden of expectation that his weighty title creates.
My concern with this matter is as practical as it is theoretical in that the autobiographical writings of prisoners are, with few exceptions, acutely focused upon the particular physical and psychological conditions of their prison environment, on the circumstances of their trials and interrogations, and on the nature of their actual or purported crimes. Their respective self-portraits and portrayals of captivity, while intimately linked to the constricted world on the "inside," are also shaped by the "outside," that is, by the perceived moral judgments of family, friends, society in general, and even their oppressors.
My argument is not with Klopp's treating the various aforementioned authors. In truth, these segments of his book are among the more interesting, for here we find much of the shared imagery that connects all portraits of confinement. Nonetheless, I maintain that the writings of a political dissident reflect a very different perspective and overall experience from those of a mentally disturbed poet or a wanton libertine, and the attempt to represent all such writers as political prisoners is simply misleading, and conveys a false sense of continuity where, in fact, stands an historical discontinuity.
Beyond the culturally specific considerations which so richly inform this book, and regardless of country or language, Charles Klopp's Sentences represents one of the most thought-provoking and vital contributions to the study of prison literature in recent scholarship. Detroit: Wayne State UP, Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone, a collection of forty-nine fairy tales framed by a fiftieth tale that opens and closes the collection, which was published posthumously in , is described by Marina Warner as "the foundation stone of the modern literary fairy tale" From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers Critical attention to this work, however, especially in English, has been sparse and uneven.
Nineteenth- and twentieth-century folklorists tended to see Basile as an anomalous figure in early seventeenth-century Italian letters. Although Canepa agrees that his choice to write the work in Neapolitan dialect impeded widespread diffusion of the work, she also points out that, until recently, this same perception dominated his reception in his own country where he was also categorized as an "unconscious ironizer" of Baroque persuasion, a secondary aesthetic at best Canepa proposes to remedy Basile's marginal status in the English-speaking scholarly community with this historical and literary study of the varied and innovative elements that distinguish "Basile's version of the literary fairy tale from both the oral folktales and from the fairy tales of his better known successors" According to Canepa, "the true novelty of Lo cunto lies not in any structural elaboration of the genre but in the figural and ideological interpolations, the references to diverse social orders and narrative traditions, that crowd the tales and disturb their illusory 'happily ever after' linearity" In the book's nine chapters, Canepa shows how Basile 1 creates a seminal text in the history of the fairy-tale genre; 2 uses a highly innovative baroque poetics to participate in the century's cultural debates on the intersections of "low" popular with "high" elitist traditions; and 3 offers and simultaneously critiques a portrait of the socio-historical and cultural contexts in which it was written Central to her analysis is Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque although Canepa is also extremely well versed in international scholarship on fairy tales, rhetoric, and the Baroque period.
Like Rabelais, Basile uses carnival and grotesque themes and techniques to fuse seemingly antithetical traditions. Basile drew his materials from the more realistic novelle of Boccaccio's "groundbreaking model of the Decameron in the mid-fourteenth century" 54 which, mutatis mutandi, Matteo Bandello and Giovan Francesco Straparola kept in circulation, and from the Neapolitan dialect tradition of writers like Giulio Cesare Cortese and Felippe de Scafata Sgruttendio, who were already carnivalizing themes and motifs from classical, chivalric, epic, and folk literature Chapter 3.
Theoreticians of dialect literature view the tradition either as engaging in a critical polemic with the literary traditions and institutions of the time, or as aiming to valorize the local culture and integrate these resources into a unified literary tradition. Canepa uses both theories in her analyses of the tales which she organizes around the fairy-tale characters rather than around a day-by-day analysis of the stories Chapters Although there are some similarities between the tales told each day, it is through the diverse representations of fairy tale's stock characters that we see Basile's "critique of social reality and the power hierarchies of his time [.
Portraits of corrupt and inept kings and courtiers Chapter 4 mask Basile's autobiographical reflections on the vicissitudes of his life as a working bourgeois intellectual and not as a populist as some critics would have it in a court consumed by conspicuous and prestige consumerism. Basile's kings are of a "diminished authority and distracted nature"; rather than being "the guarantors of the well-being of a system, they are the most blatant symptom of its malaise" In Chapter 6, "The Key to Success: Enterprising Heroes and Heroines," the artifices of trickery, solidarity, and ingenuo, usually on the part of the female characters, provide caustic commentary on what life has become in Spanish-dominated Naples.
Chapter 7 demonstrates how the portraits of ogres, fools, and forests that proliferate throughout the tales can be interpreted as comic caricatures of Basile's historical self, or as alternative figures of transgression and positive difference. Canepa's readings of the historical and cultural contexts of the tales are scholarly and well-informed although, at times, by dint of their seriousness, show the limitations of these theories when dealing with the burlesque. Although Basile participates in the formation of a literary genre, which fifty years later Madame d'Aulnoy and others would use to represent a "transformed world in which justice, equality and love would reign" 19 , this was far from the case in the majority of Basile's tales where Fortune and chance, semi-humanized ogres and fairies helped less than ideal protagonists stumble through stock ordeals that ended well most of the time despite their misguided efforts.
For example, in the most famous tale of the Pentamerone, "Lo cuento dell'uerco" "The Tale of the Ogre" , where an ogre and a lazy fool are the principal protagonists, Canepa sees the moral initiation of Antuono a stock name for a fool and happy ending as part of the reward for Antuono's learning to use language effectively, something a nice ogre was trying to teach him. This reward also figures into Basile's project of bringing the low tradition into the mainstream.
However, as Canepa states, Basile has a preference for the "low-mimetic mode" Northrop Frye's term although no mention is made of Frye which indeed functions to make the burlesque and its characters seem more based in everyday reality Hence are we to sympathize with or just laugh at this half-human, pragmatic ogre type who gives the fool a jewel-defecating donkey to take home to a mother already frustrated with her son's denseness? Antuono loses the donkey on the way home to a tavern keeper, and brings home a donkey who does his business on the linens saved for his sisters' dowry, and gets thrown out again.
Canepa quotes Jameson's theory that "Genres are essentially literary institutions, or social contracts between a writer and a specific public, whose function is to specify the proper use of a specific cultural artifact" Indeed it is difficult to interpret a "contract" in a text where all genres are being burlesqued including that of the common sense proverb at the end of so many of Basile's tales which misses rather than clarifies the point of the story. Basile destabilizes all meaning except perhaps in the eclogues which, as Canepa points out, attack directly one form, the pastoral, and thus make Basile's criticism of the court clear.
However, as Canepa states early on, her main goal is not to read the tales as cynical reactions on Basile's part, or as a historical or sociological tract in which Basile is pleading for a more just and noble world for himself and fellow members of the "Oziosi," the literary academy founded in whose name showed the members' irreverent awareness of the precarious status of the literary tradition in which they wrote. For Canepa, Basile's greatest achievement was his creation of a model of "literary interaction" Basile was working with materials from the long illustrious Greek and Roman romance tradition, whose plots and characters can be found in the fourteenth-century Gesta Romanorum, a text long believed to be the principal storehouse of Italian novelists writing realistic, horror, tragic, or comic stories.
Basile even wrote his own version of Heliodorus's romance Aethiopica. But it is precisely his brilliant use of dialect which makes Basile even more difficult now for us to understand. Canepa's theory of the workings of metaphor in Basile, which she works into every chapter and then fully and brilliantly develops in the final two chapters, elucidate how Basile parodies Classical, Renaissance, and finally the folk tradition itself in ways that exemplify and clarify the rhetorical creativity and exuberance of the Baroque.
Therefore, thanks to Canepa and this well-written, well-researched, and most interesting and amusing critical work, it will be hard from now on to ignore Basile and his place in the Western literary tradition. Virginia Cox. Chicago: U of Chicago P, Among Italian women writers of the Renaissance who have most impacted on teaching and research recently, Moderata Fonte seems to occupy the number one position.
Writing a few years ago an entry for a European encyclopedia on women, I was undecided whether I should catalogue this writer under her family name, Modesta Pozzo, or her penname, Moderata Fonte. At that time few people seemed to have heard of her. What a difference a few years make! Today Fonte has graciously taken her place among canonized Italian Renaissance writers, and the recent beautiful translation in English by Virginia Cox of her work, The Worth of Women Il merito delle donne , goes a long way toward making her name known within a larger pool of critics and students.
King and Albert Rabil Jr.
Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950
Their stated aim is to make sure that the "silent voices" of early modern women in philosophy, narrative, medicine, poetry, and natural science and likewise of men who have examined the "woman question" are finally loudly heard. Like all others in the series, this volume is preceded by an introduction of the coeditors that frames the issues facing women during the period, and sketches in broad strokes the extent of past misogyny. Then Cox provides an introduction to the author and her work, with special emphasis on her biography and on the intellectual climate of her times.
Next the treatise is examined and put in context, and a history of its reception is given. Within the translated text, the notes guide the reader thoroughly and detail the relationship of this dialogic defense to similar works. Published in a few years after her death, Fonte's Worth differs from other treatises on women not only because its title places more emphasis on the inner worth of the female sex than on its superiority the latter being the usual approach in many pro women texts of the querelle des femmes , but also because it boldly politicizes women's powerlessness and lack of authority.
The seven Venetian ladies discussing women's worth in the relaxed environment of a garden consistently debate the pros and cons of marriage, since this was the status that gave women "status" in sixteenth-century society.
But marriage is shown as inconvenient to wives, given the cultural assumptions and the behavior of their legal companions. On the other hand, since women legally were always minors no matter their age or their social class, the condition of female singlehood was difficult to advocate. And yet Fonte repeatedly does so through the figure of Corinna and her free-spirited sisters, who time and again denounce the inattentiveness or outright malice of male guardians who forget to set up, say, a sufficient dowry, to assure that the women of their household do not plunge into a life of prostitution or utter poverty.
In Fonte, women are thinking beings, led more by their logic than by their appetites, and men repeatedly are said to be envious of them. This part of the conversation constitutes Day 1 of the treatise and until Cox's introduction, it was the only section closely examined by critics.
Day 2 was dismissed as a mixture of unrelated pronouncements on geography, medicine, patronage, and the like. The seemingly scattered knowledge on these topics that the women in the conversation appear to have acquired through hearsay seemed to some critics only to confirm how difficult it was for those who lacked proper schooling to navigate the world of bookish, encyclopedic knowledge. But Cox authoritatively argues that Day 2 does not constitute scientific prattle. Rather, it foregrounds Fonte's strategy of reclaiming for women a right to equality by naming a nature - i.
The issue of seriousness in treatises on women's worth has been a topic hotly debated in Italy and central to the argument of Adriana Chemello in the first modern edition of Il merito delle donne Venice: Eidos, Cox rightfully argues that Fonte opted indeed for a form of serio ludere in discussing issues of social friction e. I agree. It is true that some writers praising women's worth have been facetious in their claims for radical changes in the relationship between the sexes.
But women writers could not adopt this strategy. Fonte is sure-footed in her denunciations even though she ends her argument on a conservative note by letting the reader assume that marriage is a necessary evil for women. While I am on the subject of conclusions, it is worth noting that we do not really know how Fonte concluded the Worth. In the introductory material that accompanied the publication of her book, Fonte's uncle, Giovanni Doglioni, claimed that his niece was busy finishing her manuscript the night before her death in childbirth, as if a premonition of sorry events to come was spurring her on.
To argue, as Cox does, that the Worth was only a first draft cut abruptly by the author's death is certainly in the realm of possibilities. In the same vein, one could reason that in revisiting the text a few years later, her children and uncle corrected it. Today we do not have a manuscript copy to which to refer in studying erasures and additions imported by different handwritings, since master texts were routinely discarded after publication. But we know from Doglioni, himself a writer, that the lengthy poem in ottava rima that concludes the treatise was not meant by Fonte to be put in this work.
We can only surmise what other changes have been effected and what other arguments have been adapted and discarded during the process of preparing the manuscript for printing. Be that as it may, the Merit's conservative ending does not detract from the import of what Fonte forcefully argues throughout.
In her biographical sketch of Fonte, Cox argues that there must have been an enmity between the writer and her only brother because he was not mentioned in her first will. This siblings' rivalry, she adds, may have stemmed from money matters preceding Fonte's own marriage. Cox's hypothesis may very well be grounded in reality - and in the Worth Fonte strongly chastises inept brothers - but in general the omission of a brother's name from the will of a married woman with children in the early modern period was the norm in Venetian society rather than the exception.
But such an instance of perhaps over-reading is just a quibble in an otherwise intelligent, well organized, and superbly argued introduction. Linda Bisello. Medicina della memoria. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki Editore, La scrittura "sussiste sempre dialetticamente rispetto al bianco della pagina" e si mantiene con esso in un rapporto costante "come se da questo schermo [. I moralisti si volgono alla scrittura aforistica una scrittura frammentaria che prevede una lettura "parcellizzante" dei testi consapevoli che la tradizione offra i paradigmi sui quali fondarsi.
III della prima parte: "La stilistica della via breve: semitae della letteratura spirituale", Quest'ultimo prova avversione verso uno stile "lambiccato a goccia a goccia, allo stentatissimo lume d'una lucerna" 80 e considera il concettismo e il laconismo sostanzialmente non diversi.
Il dibattito cfr. I, "La controversia secentesca sul 'parlare a riciso'", sorto in Italia, dove lo stile neolaconico ha un rappresentante conosciuto e tradotto in tutta Europa, Virgilio Malvezzi, trova risonanze e riprese in tutte le principali letterature europee. Nel tardo Cinquecento l'innalzamento del modello senecano e tacitista fa seguito al declino del modello ciceroniano.