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Post-Petrarchism

Post-Petrarchism: Origins and Innovations of the Western Lyric Sequence

ROLAND ARTHUR GREENE
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 306
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv84t
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  • Book Info
    Post-Petrarchism
    Book Description:

    Post-Petrarchismoffers a theoretical study of lyric poetry through one of its most long-lived and widely practiced models: the lyric sequence, originated by Francis Petrarch in his Canzoniere of the late fourteenth century. A framework in which poems are suspended according to some organizing or unifying principle, the lyric sequence emerges from European humanist culture as a poetic discourse that represents personal experience and operates as a kind of fiction. Here Roland Greene proposes that since Petrarch the lyric sequence has survived in European and American literatures--from Shakespeare's Sonnets to The Waste Land to Trilce--as a complex in which formal, generic, and cultural designs intersect, and as an embodiment of lyric discourse at its most extensive, inclusive, and ambitious. Enabled by a theoretical introduction to the genre at large, the book treats the founding and elaboration of the vernacular sequence in six major texts by Petrarch, Philip Sidney, Edward Taylor, Walt Whitman, W. B. Yeats, Pablo Neruda, and Martin Adan. Throughout Greene shows how Petrarchism has evolved as lyric discourse through its exposure to such events as the Reformation and Puritanism, the settlement of the New World, and the various modernisms of Europe and the Americas.

    Originally published in 1991.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6177-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. A NOTE ON TEXTS AND PROCEDURES
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction POST-PETRARCHISM: TOWARD A POETICS OF LYRIC AND THE LYRIC SEQUENCE
    (pp. 3-21)

    I call this bookPost-Petrarchismbecause it is concerned with the vernacular lyric sequence, a poetic form invented by Francesco Petrarca, in the ages and cultures of its influence. Contrary to what many readers assume, Petrarchism is neither static nor one sort of thing; perhaps most startling, it is not dead. It emerges out of European humanist culture as a lyric discourse adapted to representing amatory and other experience through unities of process and person—in the largest sense, to making fictions. Abiding its exposure to events such as the Reformation and Puritanism, the settlement of the New World, and...

  6. Chapter 1 FOUNDING FICTION: THE TEMPORALITY OF PETRARCH’S CANZONIERE
    (pp. 22-62)

    The Western lyric sequence was born in the practice of Francesco Petrarca, whose fourteenth-centuryCanzoniereorRime Sparseis the first and probably the most comprehensive specimen of the form. Petrarch’s disparate models—including the collections of Roman lyricists such as Propertius and Ovid, the Provençal chansonniers, and the mingled prose and verse of Dante’sVita Nuova—were transformed by his infusion of several elements, and passed on, a new whole, to European and New World poets of five ensuing centuries. The most catalytic of these elements, I believe, is the conceit of temporal process, of a continuum that binds...

  7. Chapter 2 CONSTRUCTING CHARACTER: SIDNEY’S ASTROPHIL AND STELLA AS NOMINATIVE FICTION
    (pp. 63-108)

    In the West, every literary genre, subgenre, or form with a claim to importance and capacity tends to be a vessel for the construction we call character. As the plot element of a work offers its readers the appeal of teleology and order, the characterological element has the appeal of identity, and offers a store of figures, however schematic in constitution, that we are tempted to judge by personal, cultural, and ideological measures. Even when we consider characterization analytically, however, our terms are often excessively rigid or imprecise. In this chapter, I briefly treat the constitution of literary character, in...

  8. Chapter 3 TWO RITUAL SEQUENCES: TAYLOR’S PREPARATORY MEDITATIONS AND WHITMAN’S LEAVES OF GRASS
    (pp. 109-152)

    The fictional program for the Western sequence holds its aesthetic and ideological legitimacy only by conceding a subordinate place for the countertrend in lyric, the ritual mode with which fiction converses in nearly every poem and volume. Traces of that other phenomenon cannot be obliterated, not while poems are composed of material signs to be performed and experienced; nor does fiction aspire to anything so drastic for its opposing principle, for the ritual mode is a valuable foil, and has much to offer by defining and corroborating the former. While the school of Petrarch rehearses its generic program, however, a...

  9. Chapter 4 NOMINATIVE TO ARTIFACTUAL: INTERVAL AND INNOVATION IN TWO SEQUENCES BY YEATS
    (pp. 153-194)

    The job of describing modern innovations in the lyric sequence is a frustrating one because poets of the twentieth century have found innumerable ways to depart from the practice and assumptions of Petrarch and his successors past Tennyson—they have discovered so many ways to be modern, and then postmodern. In this chapter, I propose to examine the turn to a fresh program by an inveterate twentieth-century poet of sequences, William Butler Yeats. His twin series of the late 1920s,A Man Young and OldandA Woman Young and Old, live out both a profound debt to the essential...

  10. Chapter 5 MEASURING SPACE, BECOMING SPACE: THE SPATIALITY OF NERUDA’S ALTURAS DE MACCHU PICCHU AND ADÁN’S LA MANO DESASIDA
    (pp. 195-254)

    One way to consider whether a work of literature realizes the phenomenon of fiction is to see how readers have become involved with the world it evokes. Fictions, lyric or otherwise, tend to give the illusion of occurring in a knowable place, while ritually oriented poems are supposed to happen anywhere the reader or auditor might be.¹ As a founding text of lyric fiction, Petrarch’sCanzonierehas always led its readers to explore its represented world. In 1525 Alessandro Vellutello, one of the great Petrarchist commentators of that century, published the results of his research into the sites of the...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 255-286)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 287-292)