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Garcilaso de la Vega and the Material Culture of Renaissance Europe

Garcilaso de la Vega and the Material Culture of Renaissance Europe

Series: Toronto Iberic
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Garcilaso de la Vega and the Material Culture of Renaissance Europe
    Book Description:

    Garcilaso de la Vega and the Material Culture of Renaissance Europeexamines the role of cultural objects in the lyric poetry of Garcilaso de la Vega, the premier poet of sixteenth-century Spain.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6849-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Note on Editions and Translations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. Introduction: Engaging the Material
    (pp. 3-13)

    When Garcilaso de la Vega (1501?–36), courtier and soldier in the army of Emperor Charles V, arrived in Rome in August 1532, he could not have imagined that he was embarking on the most creative and productive phase of his short career as poet. En route to Naples with his patron and friend Pedro de Toledo, marquis of Villafranca and newly appointed viceroy, Garcilaso spent ten days in Rome, where ancient public monuments, like Trajan’s Column and the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, still stood, and where antiquities were all the rage.¹ If his was an age of warfare...

  7. 1 Weaving, Writing, and the Art of Gift-Giving
    (pp. 14-35)

    In sixteenth-century Europe, gift-giving ranked among the most significant social practices within an aristocratic culture of consumption. Garcilaso certainly witnessed the ritual exchange of needlework, medals, and precious items like gems and jewellery at the Habsburg court, and especially of tapestries, markers of wealth, status, power, and cultivated taste. Whether they hung in the chambers of kings and nobles or in public arenas, these “woven frescoes,” which were more expensive to produce and more prestigious than paintings, played a prominent role in the art, propaganda, and ceremonies of church and court.¹ In this chapter I examine the tapestries woven by...

  8. 2 Empire, Memory, and History
    (pp. 36-60)

    In June 1535 Emperor Charles V arrived with a grand armada at Tunis to engage the Berber pirate Kheir-ed-Din Barbarossa, admiral of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent’s fleet, who had been raiding the coasts and disrupting Christian shipping in the western Mediterranean.¹ Still visible near Tunis were the ruins of ancient Carthage, Rome’s most powerful naval rival, which the Scipios had conquered (202 BCE) and destroyed (146 BCE). Expecting no less a victory, Charles brought with him a “cultural and commemorative entourage” of humanist scholars, historians, and artists to produce an official record of the event, in effect to treat the...

  9. 3 Objects of Dubious Persuasion
    (pp. 61-80)

    In theOde ad florem Gnidithe poet, assuming the role of a go-between, casts a series of objects – a lyre, Roman triumphal carts, a viol and a zither, a shell boat, a painting, and a marble statue – to structure an irreverent act of persuasion and to figure the players, a spurned lover and an unresponsive beauty, at the centre of his tongue-in-cheek performance. Written sometime between 1533 and 1536, after Garcilaso had established himself as a member of Pedro de Toledo’s court in Naples, theOdewas supposedly inspired by the rejection of the poet’s aristocratic friend,...

  10. 4 The Mirror and the Urn
    (pp. 81-124)

    The bipartite, polymetric Second Eclogue privileges two iconic cultural artefacts, a mirror and an urn, for the construction of two figures, a melancholic and a warrior, who engage radically different worlds. The shepherd Albanio inhabits an interior world of introspection, while Fernando, third duke of Alba, lives large in the public sphere of arms, imperial doings, and panegyric. Two parts, two figures, two realities difficult to reconcile and, to critics, most confounding. Rafael Lapesa, in a widely accepted interpretation, finds a coherent structure in this unwieldy poem, seeing it as a diptych with a moral: a heroic Fernando serves as...

  11. 5 Eros at Material Sites
    (pp. 125-151)

    A recurring interest in Garcilaso’s Neapolitan poems is the relation between the psyche and the body, interiority and materiality, in a self destabilized by melancholy eros. The lover’s affliction is a cultural malaise stemming from a profound sense of loss that evokes sadness and despair, but is typically conceived as an exulted condition. A lack of fixity, a sense of in-betweenness, endows the melancholic by long tradition with extraordinary powers of perception and artistic excellence. The Florentine Marsilio Ficino, following Aristotle, understood melancholia as a “unique and divine gift,” the exclusive subjectivity of the man of letters.¹ In the four...

  12. 6 Staging Objects in Pastoral
    (pp. 152-170)

    The amoebean song of Garcilaso’s First Eclogue, a diptych of intimate moments of complaint and lyric self-reflection, maps out two inner journeys of rupture and discord. Oral performance, whether melancholy complaint or soulful mourning, enters the pastoral to stage the material construction of the departed beloved. A jealous, melancholy Salicio portrays his stony Galatea, who has left him for another, as a kind of statue but harder than marble. Nemoroso portrays his gentle Elisa as a delicate cloth torn by Death, the strands of her hair as a relic, and her lovely neck as a white column. In this chapter...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 171-174)

    With the rise of Spain as a trans-European and global power, the heroic culture of the Reconquest and the Castilian warrior was superseded by new social, political, and aesthetic ideals exemplified by a “new poetry” and a new subject, aligned with the court, empire, and modernity (Middlebrook 2009). Garcilaso, a courtier and soldier who travelled across the Continent in Charles V’s entourage and military forces, was the initiator for Spain (along with Juan Boscán) of that aristocratic, erudite lyric in the vernacular.¹ Culturally a European in the widest sense and a humanist, he possessed a broad and deep understanding of...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 175-196)
  15. Works Cited
    (pp. 197-218)
  16. Index
    (pp. 219-226)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 227-228)