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Culture and Authority in the Baroque

Culture and Authority in the Baroque

Massimo Ciavolella
Patrick Coleman
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    Culture and Authority in the Baroque
    Book Description:

    The cultural forms often referred to as ?baroque? are the most spectacular expressions of early modern Europe?s effort to mediate between knowledge and power at a time when political authority was being centralized, the authority of religion undermined by the division of Christianity, and science and poetry were seen increasingly as rival forms of intellectual authority.Culture and Authority in the Baroqueexplores the baroque across a wide range of disciplines, from poetics to politics, to the rituals of musical, dramatic, and religious performance.

    The essays in this collection span what has been called the ?baroque crescent? stretching from Spain through Italy to Russia, but they also bring Shakespeare and English cosmological poetry into productive dialogue with continental Europe in the reinterpretation of baroque world-views. The editors, Massimo Ciavolella and Patrick Coleman, along with a group of eminent scholars from across the disciplinary and geographic spectrum, investigate baroque modes of persuasion with careful attention to the complexity of particular cultural phenomena and their political and aesthetic implications. This collection redefines the way the baroque will be understood.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7365-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-11)

    Baroque is back. In architecture, recent preoccupation with enhancing feelings of community has sparked renewed appreciation for the ‘expansive and inclusive’ use of space in baroque buildings, and more generally in perspectives that ‘order urban distribution and circulation through avenues, vistas and foci’ in order to complicate and intensify the subject’s relation to the more elusive aspects of social experience.¹ Reflections on changing, ‘postmodern’ conceptions of space, real and virtual, commonly refer to baroque aesthetics.² Over the last two decades, cinematic re-imaginations of seventeenth-century Europe such as Peter Greenaway’sDraughtsman’s Contract(1982) and Alain Corneau’sTous les matins du monde...

  4. chapter one ‘Believing and Not Believing’: Shakespeare and the Archaeology of Wonder
    (pp. 12-29)

    Sometime in the fourth century BC, there was a marvellous birth: the philosophical concept of wonder in the West was born. The first classical reference to wonder and philosophy can be found in Plato’sTheaetetus[155d]: Socrates tells Theaetetus, ‘This sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin, and he was a good genealogist who made Iris [Philosophy] the daughter of Thaumas [Wonder].’¹ Wonder, then, gives birth to philosophy. Plato’s student, Aristotle, developed the concept of wonder in many texts, especially in hisMetaphysicsandPoetics. I would like to take as a...

  5. chapter two Philosophical Tours of the Universe in British Poetry, 1700–1729, Or, The Soaring Muse
    (pp. 30-62)

    A particular kind of verse, what I call the ‘philosophical tour of the universe poem,’ was exceedingly popular in England during the first half of the eighteenth century. The poems, by John Reynolds, Sir Richard Blackmore, David Mallet, Alexander Pope, Henry Baker, Elizabeth Tollet, Henry Brooke, and many others, are imaginative, expressive theodicies that appeared shortly after influential physico-theological prose tracts and treatises of the late seventeenth century, or concurrently with similar prose published after 1700. This essay investigates some of the concerns and characteristics of the philosophical tour poem in its first phase, roughly 1700–29, and interprets five...

  6. chapter three Marino and the Meraviglia
    (pp. 63-72)

    It is usually reported that Marino coined the sentence ‘è del poeta il fin la meraviglia’ (‘the poet’s goal is to surprise’), which appears in every manual of history of Italian literature. This sentence is constantly repeated because it seems to contain the essence of baroque literature, and it is a commonplace to associate baroque andmeraviglia. Commonplaces usually have a kernel of truth, but they also tend to trivialize it by reducing complex phenomena to simple definitions; and in this particular case the process creates a paradox because the definition orients the research rather than resulting from it. Nobody...

  7. chapter four I Would Rather Drown, Than Not Find New Worlds
    (pp. 73-84)

    To better clarify the topic of this paper, I would like to re-examine, briefly, the famous sentence by Giovan Battista Marino: ‘I claim to know the rules much better than all the pedantic scholars put together, but the true rule, my sweet friend, is to be able to break all rules at the right time and place, adapting oneself to current customs and to prevailing taste.’¹ This quotation is from a letter that Marino sent from Naples in (late) 1624 to Girolamo Preti, a former admirer who, sensing mounting changes in literary tastes, was trying to distance himself from the...

  8. chapter five Truth and Wonder in Naples circa 1640
    (pp. 85-105)

    The poet Giambattista Marino died in Naples in 1625, his fame assured both at home and abroad. Marino’s influence among the city’sletteraticontinued to grow throughout the first half of the seventeenth century in spite of the notoriety of his banned poemAdone(1623).¹ His sweeping rejection of the neoclassical rules of composition became the cornerstone of the new baroque poetry in Italy during these years, and Naples was by the 1620s a hotbed ofmarinisti. The poetics ofmeraviglia(marvel, wonder) represented a revolt not only against the established poetic decorum of the later sixteenth century, but against...

  9. chapter six ‘Particolar gusto e diletto alle orecchie’: Listening in the Early Seicento
    (pp. 106-121)

    On the heels of heated controversies over new musical styles, early seventeenth-century Italian presses produced a flurry of essays on music by (and for) non-musicians, constituting the most extensive amount of commentary on music to that point by poets, philosophers, and other intellectuals. In a parallel development, musical prints of the time were frequently prefaced by ‘notes to the reader’ concerning the expressive qualities of the music contained in the collection. Such commentary does not draw on the established rhetorical and pedagogical tradition of sixteenth-century theoretical treatises; rather, it takes its examples from contemporary performance practice. Most importantly, the pervasive...

  10. chapter seven From Liturgy to Literature: Prayer and Play in the Early Russian Baroque
    (pp. 122-137)

    Any attempt to assess the role of the baroque in Russia must take into consideration that it was imported by a culture that had experienced no Renaissance. It was therefore perceived by both its proponents and opponents as a challenge, not to the ‘new humanism,’ but to the fundamentally medieval world-view still prevailing in seventeenth-century Russia. In that sense the baroque in Russia is typologically equivalent to the Renaissance in Western Europe, associated not only with radically new forms of humanistic thought, but with new artistic strategies and devices as well. The popularization of perspective in painting, polyphony in music,...

  11. chapter eight Reconciling Divine and Political Authority in Racine’s Esther
    (pp. 138-158)

    Racine’s biblical tragedy,Esther, opens with a panegyric prologue incanted by the character Piety in which Piety proclaims the virtues of the king, whom we can presume to be Louis XIV. Within this prologue, Piety utters a prayer for history:

    Grand Dieu, que cet ouvrage ait place en ta mémoire!

    Que tous les soins [que le roi] prend pour soutenir ta gloire

    Soient gravés de ta main au livre où sont écrits

    Les noms prédestinés des rois que tu chéris! (Prologue, 15– 19)¹

    [Great God, may this work have a place in your memory!

    May all the cares [that the...

  12. chapter nine Apostles and Apostates: The Court of Peter the Great as a Chivalrous Religious Order
    (pp. 159-192)

    At first glance, the strange discursive practices by means of which the royal entourage of Peter Alekseevich Romanov (the future Peter the Great of Russia, r. 1682–1725) enacted its vision of Orthodox imperial reform appear to have very little to do with this monarch’s endeavour to transform Muscovy into a powerful member of the nascent ‘concert of Europe’ and to declare himself the first Russian emperor.¹ After all, what can a pilgrimage to some obscure, unaccredited Arctic shrine – the subject of the first section of this essay – tell us about the tsar’s desire to emulate the example of other,...

  13. chapter ten Self-Knowledge and the Advantages of Concealment: Pierre Nicole’s ‘On Self-Knowledge’
    (pp. 193-207)

    The seventeenth century is sometimes viewed as an epoque in which the compromised, relativistic, and merely probable knowledge of the material and social world gave way to a pure, systematic, and certain knowledge sometimes known as the classical episteme. In recent years this overview has been increasingly questioned, and it now seems that in the heart of the seventeenth century many writers advanced a vision of inquiry in which truth and falsehood, far from being always and everywhere incompatible, must sometimes be combined in the search for knowledge. To understand this pleaching of truth and untruth, we need to consider...

  14. chapter eleven The Baroque Social Bond in the Memoirs of the Cardinal de Retz
    (pp. 208-228)

    TheMemoirsthat Jean-François-Paul de Gondi, co-adjutor of the Archbishop of Paris and later known as cardinal de Retz, left of his life are among the best known in that literary genre in early modern France. As this controversial nobleman, high church figure, and faction leader reflects on his participation in the Fronde and on his later destiny during the triumphant era of Louis XIV’s absolutism, he repeatedly returns to the issue of the bonds and conflicts at the heart of the civil war that shook France from 1648 to 1652 and develops themes that are emblematic of a baroque...

  15. chapter twelve A Different Kind of Wonder? Women’s Writing in Early Modern Spain
    (pp. 229-244)

    As suggested by Giambattista Marino’s assertion that poets must know how and when to break the rules, baroque authors demonstrated an intense self-consciousness with regard to the customs and taste of the age. Marino’s comments gesture to literary tradition as well as to an emerging mass readership. Indeed, poetry, drama, and prose fiction had the consumer in mind. Writers sought a dense, intellectualized aesthetic aimed at subverting the overt accessibility of Petrarchan conventions; many were guided by the desire to provokeadmiratio– admiration, shock, wonder. Concerned with linguistic variation and stylistic techniques in tune and in tension with that of...

  16. Contributors
    (pp. 245-248)
  17. Index
    (pp. 249-255)