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"Re-writing" and the "Hermeneutic Attitude"
After Machiavelli is an examination of the triangular relationship of "re-writing"-a dynamic process encompassing both creative newness and awareness of historical profundity"-the "hermeneutic attitude:' and Machiavelli's poiesis. Specifically, it addresses four questions: First, to what degree can we speak of intersection (interaction) among this triad? Second, what common ground do all three actually share? Third, in what particular manner do the act of "re-writing" and the "hermeneutic attitude" manifest themselves in the writings of Niccoli Machiavelli? And last, what bearing does this have on the reader, heir to Machiavelli's literary legacy?
Herman Melville and the Cultural Politics of Italy
Although Herman Melville is typically considered one of America’s earliest cosmopolitan writers, scholarship has focused primarily on his involvement with the South Seas, England, and the Holy Land. In American Risorgimento: Herman Melville and the Cultural Politics of Italy, Dennis Berthold extends Melville’s transnational vision both geographically and historically by examining his many references to Italy and Rome in the context of the Risorgimento, Italy’s long quest for independence and political unity. Melville’s contemporaries, notably Margaret Fuller and Henry T. Tuckerman, recognized the similarities between the Risorgimento and America’s struggle for national identity, and the influx of exiles from the failed Italian revolutions of 1820 and 1831 made Melville’s New York a hotbed of Risorgimento sympathies. Literary and political expostulations on Italy’s plight combined to create a distinctively American view of the Risorgimento that Melville elaborated in his fiction through allusions, characterizations, and direct commentary on Roman history, Dante, Machiavelli, Pope Pius IX, and Giuseppe Mazzini. Melville followed the unfolding drama of Italian nationalism more closely than any other major American writer and found in it tropes and themes that fueled his turn to poetry, particularly after his visit to Italy in 1857. The Civil War, a crisis for American nationalism as urgent and profound as the Risorgimento, reinforced the symbolic parallels between the United States and Italy and led Melville to meditate on Giuseppe Garibaldi and other Italian patriots in one of his longest poems. Melville’s literary appropriations of Italian history, art, and politics demonstrate that transnational cultural exchanges are not confined to later American writing but originate with the country’s earliest authors and their recognition that any national literature worthy of the name must incorporate a broad international frame of reference.
Dante and the Poets
While the structure and themes of the Divine Comedy are defined by the narrative of a spiritual pilgrimage guided by Christian truth, Winthrop Wetherbee’s remarkable new study reveals that Dante’s engagement with the great Latin poets Vergil, Ovid, Lucan, and Statius constitutes a second, complementary narrative centered on psychological and artistic self-discovery. This fresh, illuminating approach departs from the usual treatment of classical poets in Dante criticism, which assigns them a merely allegorical function. Their true importance to Dante’s project is much greater. As Wetherbee meticulously shows, Dante’s use of the poets is grounded in an astute understanding of their historical situation and a deeply sympathetic reading of their poetry. Dante may have been motivated to correct pagan thought and imagery, but more pervasive was his desire to recreate classical style and to restore classical auctoritas to his own times. Dante’s journey in the Commedia, beginning with the pilgrim’s assumption of a tragic view of the human condition, progresses with the great poetry of the classical past as an intrinsic component of—not just a foil to—the spiritual experience. Dante ultimately recognizes classical poetry as an essential means to his discovery of truth. A stunning contribution by one of the nation’s leading medievalists, Wetherbee’s investigation of the poem’s classicism makes possible an ethical and spiritual but non-Christian reading of Dante, one that will spur new research and become an indispensable tool for teaching the Commedia.
The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid's Fasti
Ovid’s Fasti, his poem on the Roman calendar, became especially influential during the fifteenth century as a guide to classical Roman culture. Ovid’s treatment of mythological and astronomical lore, his investigation of anniversaries and customs, and his charting of monuments and history offered humanist poets and intellectuals an abundance of material to unravel. They could identify with Ovid as vates operosus, or hard-working seer–poet, suggesting both researcher and inspired authority. Angela Fritsen’s Antiquarian Voices: The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid’s Fasti offers the first study of the Renaissance exegesis and imitation of Ovid as antiquarian. Fritsen analyzes the Fasti commentaries by Paolo Marsi (1440–1484) and Antonio Costanzi (1436–1490) as well as the connections between the two works. It situates Ovidian Fasti studies in the Roman Academy under the mentorship of Pomponio Leto. Nowhere could the investigation of the Fasti be carried out better than in Rome. The humanists had a guide to the City in Ovid. They also regarded the Fasti as well suited to the ideology of the ancient Roman imperium’s renewal in modern papal Rome. Antiquarian Voices illustrates how in reviving the Fasti, the humanists returned Rome to its original splendor. The book demonstrates that the humanists were eager to relate the Fasti to their antiquarian pursuits—as well as to their rising personal fame.
The Church of Solitude tells the story of Maria Concezione, a young Sardinian seamstress living with breast cancer at the cusp of the twentieth century. Overwhelmed by the shame of her diagnosis, she decides that no one can know what has happened to her, but the heavy burden of this secrecy changes her life in dramatic ways and almost causes the destruction of several people in her life. This surprising novel paints the portrait of a woman facing the unknown with courage, faith, and self-reliance, and is the last and most autobiographical work of Grazia Deledda, who died of breast cancer in 1936, shortly after its publication. An afterword by the translator offers additional information on the author and examines the social and historical environment of that time.
Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film
A Cinema of Poetry brings Italian film studies into dialogue with fields outside its usual purview by showing how films can contribute to our understanding of aesthetic questions that stretch back to Homer. Joseph Luzzi considers the relationship between film and literature, such as the cinematic adaptation of literary sources, and more generally the fields of rhetoric, media studies, and modern Italian culture. The book balances theoretical inquiry with close readings of films by the masters of Italian cinema: Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Bernardo Bertolucci, among others. Luzzi's study is the first to show how Italian filmmakers address such crucial aesthetic issues as the nature of the chorus, the relationship between symbol and allegory, the literary prehistory of montage, and the place of poetry in cinematic expression—what Pasolini called the "cinema of poetry." While Luzzi establishes how certain qualities of film—its link with technological processes, capacity for mass distribution, synthetic virtues (and vices) as the so-called total art—have reshaped centuries-long debates, A Cinema of Poetry also explores what is specific to the Italian art film and, more broadly, Italian cinematic history, which lends to this national cinema its unique aesthetic perspectives. In other words, what makes this version of the art film recognizably “Italian"?
Dante put Muhammad in one of the lowest circles of Hell. At the same time, the medieval Christian poet placed several Islamic philosophers much more honorably in Limbo. Furthermore, it has long been suggested that for much of the basic framework of the Divine Comedy Dante was indebted to apocryphal traditions about a “night journey” taken by Muhammad. _x000B__x000B_Dante scholars have increasingly returned to the question of Islam to explore the often surprising encounters among religious traditions that the middle ages afforded. This collection of essays works through what was known of the Qur’an and of Islamic philosophy and science in Dante’s day, and explores the bases for Dante’s images of Muhammad and Ali. It further compels us to look at key instances of engagement among Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
Theology as Poetry
In Dante's Commedia: Theology as Poetry, an international group of theologians and Dante scholars provide a uniquely rich set of perspectives focused on the relationship between theology and poetry in the Commedia. Examining Dante's treatment of questions of language, personhood, and the body; his engagement with the theological tradition he inherited; and the implications of his work for contemporary theology, the contributors argue for the close intersection of theology and poetry in the text as well as the importance of theology for Dante studies. Through discussion of issues ranging from Dante's use of imagery of the Church to the significance of the smile for his poetic project, the essayists offer convincing evidence that his theology is not what underlies his narrative poem, nor what is contained within it: it is instead fully integrated with its poetic and narrative texture. As the essays demonstrate, the Commedia is firmly rooted in the medieval tradition of reflection on the nature of theological language, while simultaneously presenting its readers with unprecedented, sustained poetic experimentation. Understood in this way, Dante emerges as one of the most original theological voices of the Middle Ages.
In a masterly synthesis of historical and literary analysis, Giuseppe Mazzotta shows how medieval knowledge systems--the cycle of the liberal arts, ethics, politics, and theology--interacted with poetry and elevated the Divine Comedy to a central position in shaping all other forms of discursive knowledge. To trace the circle of Dante's intellectual concerns, Mazzotta examines the structure and aims of medieval encyclopedias, especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; the medieval classification of knowledge; the battle of the arts; the role of the imagination; the tension between knowledge and vision; and Dante's theological speculations in his constitution of what Mazzotta calls aesthetic, ludic theology. As a poet, Dante puts himself at the center of intellectual debates of his time and radically redefines their configuration. In this book, Mazzotta offers powerful new readings of a poet who stands amid his culture's crisis and fragmentation, one who responds to and counters them in his work. In a critical gesture that enacts Dante's own insight, Mazzotta's practice is also a fresh contribution to the theoretical literary debates of the present.
Originally published in 1992.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses 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.
Vol. 133 (2015) through current issue