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Forgotten Paths

Etymology and the Allegorical Mindset

Davide Del Bello

Publication Year: 2011

In Forgotten Paths, Davide Del Bello draws on the insights of Giambattista Vico and examines exemplary texts from classical, medieval, and Renaissance culture with the intent to trace the links between etymological and allegorical ways of knowing, writing, thinking, and arguing

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

During the years that went into the preparation of this book, I have incurred countless debts on both sides of the Atlantic. A note of sincere appreciation goes to John Schaeffer, Susan Deskis, and David Gorman at Northern Illinois University, who originally fostered my project: without their unrelenting assistance, this manuscript would not have been possible. ...

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pp. xiii-xvi

This etymology appears at the beginning of Book X (De Vocabulis) in Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiarum Sive Origines Libri XX. It is a prime example of the kind of medieval etymologizing that seems almost flauntingly at variance with a persistent notion of “scientific etymology,” the Sprachwissenschaft—or Science of Language ...

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Chapter 1 The Science of Etymology: From “Sound” Laws to Plausible Conjectures

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pp. 1-33

Is etymology a science? Nineteenth-century German scholars would not have doubted that the study of word origins is a Wissenschaft, the kind of exact knowledge that is based on predictable linguistic laws. In 1852, Ernst Förstemann claimed that word origins followed strenge Lautgesetze (strict sound laws). ...

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Chapter 2 Nomen est Omen: Etymology and Allegory

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pp. 34-46

A fifth-century commentary on Plato’s Cratylus, the Explicatio Cratyli of the Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus, offers a clue to the tangled destinies of etymology and allegory. The passage in question is number LXXXVIII among the 185 scholia, or short chapters, which give us Proclus’s exegesis of a large section from Plato’s dialogue (338a– 407c). ...

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Chapter 3 The Names of Heroes: Greek and Alexandrian Etymologizing

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pp. 47-71

So far I have endeavored to provide a viable model of allegorical etymology. To this end, I dealt first with etymology’s loss of prestige within contemporary linguistics and called for a reappraisal of its role: the stress twentieth-century linguists lay on morphology and phonology fails to account for ...

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Chapter 4 Quartus Gradus Etymologiae: The Roman Contribution

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pp. 72-94

“As far as etymology is concerned, we could say that in Rome there is a pre-Varro and a post-Varro.”1 These are the words Françoise Desbordes uses in her “La Pratique Étymologique Des Poètes Latins à l’Èpoque d’Auguste” to describe Roman etymology. ...

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Chapter 5 Allegorical Etymology as a Denkform: The Middle Ages of Isidore

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pp. 95-115

It is hardly an overstatement to say that medieval etymology owes much of its form and its methods to the achievement of one individual. Isidore, bishop of Seville (560–636), author of Etymologiarum sive originum libri XX, is invariably cited by critics as one of the most influential figures in the medieval West. ...

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Chapter 6 Emithologia: Etymology’s Riddles from 1500 to 1700

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pp. 116-134

The practice of etymologizing underwent subtle, continual changes towards the end of the Middle Ages and throughout the period commonly known as the Renaissance. It may be true, as some have argued, that such changes were more in emphasis than in content ...

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Chapter 7 Redefining Difference: Allegorical Etymology in de Man, Derrida, and Vico

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pp. 135-155

This survey on allegorical etymology could very well have ended with the Middle Ages. If it is true, as Ohly suggests, that allegorical etymologizing waned with the decline of Latin and has appeared only sporadically in the national languages ever since, it would have made more sense to focus on Isidore, ...

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Chapter 8 Alternative Routes

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pp. 156-170

This book has taken a bird’s-eye view of etymological practices from Greek antiquity to the present day, with the intent of showing how these can be used to redraw the boundaries of etymological inquiry. From the start, I was not interested in gathering literary specimens that constitute a genre, like “poetic etymology”: ...

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 171-180


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pp. 181-187

E-ISBN-13: 9780813216928
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813214849

Page Count: 207
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Language and languages -- Etymology -- History.
  • Allegory.
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