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Petrarchan Love and the Continental Renaissance

Petrarchan Love and the Continental Renaissance

Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Petrarchan Love and the Continental Renaissance
    Book Description:

    The 366 lyrics of Petrarch'sCanzoniereexert a unique influence in literary history. From the mid-fifteenth century to the early seventeenth, the poems are imitated in every major language of western Europe, and for a time they provide Renaissance Europe with an almost exclusive sense of what love poetry should be. In this stimulating look at the international phenomenon of Petrarch's poetry, Gordon Braden focuses on materials in languages other than English-Italian, French, and Spanish, with brief citations from Croatian and Cypriot Greek, among others. Braden closely examines Petrarch's theme of love for an impossible object of desire, a theme that captivated and inspired across centuries, societies, and languages.The book opens with a fresh interpretation of Petrarch's sequence, in which Braden defines the poet's innovations in the context of his predecessors, Dante and the troubadours. The author then examines how Petrarchan predispositions affect various strains of Renaissance literature: prose narrative, verse narrative, and, primarily, lyric poetry. In the final chapter, Braden turns to the poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to demonstrate a sophisticated case of Petrarchism taken to one of its extremes within the walls of a convent in seventeenth-century Mexico.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14728-5
    Subjects: 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. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    I did not read Petrarch with any attentiveness until I in effect had to. Coming in my early years of university employment to teach a survey course in English Renaissance literature, I realized I needed to know more, and it would probably be helpful for my students to know something, about the poems that were responsible for so many of the conspicuous and odd features of Renaissance love poetry. My education had left me with a sheaf of not very interesting generalizations about Petrarchism and an impression that the topic was a much studied one; that impression was of course...

  5. A Note on Texts
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. 1 Petrarch
    (pp. 1-60)

    In the vestibule of hell, amid those who lived without praise or blame, together with thecattivo coroof angels who were neither rebellious nor faithful, Dante recognizes “l’ ombra di colui / che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto”: the shade of him who from cowardice made the great refusal (Inferno3.59–60).¹ Following his guide’s instructions, Dante gives no name:

    Fama di loro il mondo esser non lassa;

    misericordia e giustizia li sdegna:

    non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda e passa. (49–51)

    The world does not suffer that report of them shall live. Mercy and justice disdain...

  7. 2 Petrarchism
    (pp. 61-128)

    Petrarch’s influence has long seemed almost indistinguishable from the Renaissance itself. The historical posture struck in the Coronation Oration andAfricawas validated early and steadily by others. “Francesco Petrarch was the first with a talent sufficient to recognize and call back to light the antique elegance of the lost and extinguished style.”¹ So declared Leonardo Bruni in 1436, speaking from within what by then was an established and expanding cultural movement; Erasmus would memorialize Petrarch in hisCiceronianus(1528) asprinceps—first and premier example—of “the rebirth of eloquence,”² and accounts of humanism invariably begin with Petrarch. If...

  8. 3 Plus Ultra
    (pp. 129-162)

    A history of Petrarchan imitation in lyric poetry and other imaginative literature has no obvious stopping place. Such imitation has never stopped; you can open a new book of poems and find conscious and complex examples:

    In the sweet time of my first age,

    wishing to speak,

    I confessed in the meadow

    by a stone. I talked of everything:

    how I loved him;

    how my hair in the lamplight looked

    red and surreal;

    how I took pleasure in the distant

    deaths; how I daily fled

    the belling of my womb …¹

    (This instance stands at the head of this particular...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 163-194)
  10. Name Index
    (pp. 195-198)