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After Machiavelli Cover

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After Machiavelli

"Re-writing" and the "Hermeneutic Attitude"

by Barbara Godorecci

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?

American Risorgimento Cover

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American Risorgimento

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.

The Ancient Flame Cover

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The Ancient Flame

Dante and the Poets

Winthrop Wetherbee

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.

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Church of Solitude, The

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.

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A Cinema of Poetry

Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film

Joseph Luzzi

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"?

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Dante and Islam

Edited by Jan M. Ziolkowski

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.

Dante's Commedia Cover

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Dante's Commedia

Theology as Poetry

Edited by Vittorio Montemaggi and Matthew Treherne

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.

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Dante's Vision and the Circle of Knowledge

Giuseppe Mazzotta

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.

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The Discipline of Subjectivity

An Essay on Montaigne

Ermanno Bencivenga

Through an interpretation of Montaigne's philosophical vision as expressed in his Essays, Ermanno Bencivenga contributes to the current debate about the "death of the subject" by developing a view of the self as a project of continuous construction rather than the source and foundation of knowledge. This latter, Cartesian conception of self-consciousness as a logical and epistemological starting point is, Bencivenga contends, delusive: the certainty it provides is more akin to faith than to a cognitive state. How then do we acquire knowledge of the self? Montaigne makes for a productive case study in this regard: he declares that he himself is the matter of his book, and that nothing but the constitution of his own self is his business. A study of Montaigne reveals that the fundamental category missing in the Cartesian conception of the self is that of practical effort. The self is not a ready-made entity, available for inspection and analysis, but something whose generation requires exercise, training, and discipline. It is the result of an operation that must be performed not just once, but, as in all training, over and over again until it becomes second nature. Bencivenga characterizes the particular training required by the project of constituting a subject as a revolutionary, transgressive, critical one, which shares with philosophical activity a profoundly playful irrelevance to the "ready to hand."

Originally published in 1990.

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.

Divine and Poetic Freedom in the Renaissance Cover

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Divine and Poetic Freedom in the Renaissance

Nominalist Theology and Literature in France and Italy

Ullrich Langer

The closely related problems of creativity and freedom have long been seen as emblematic of the Renaissance. Ullrich Langer, however, argues that French and Italian Renaissance literature can be profitably reconceived in terms of the way these problems are treated in late medieval scholasticism in general and nominalist theology in particular. Looking at a subject that is relatively unexplored by literary critics, Langer introduces the reader to some basic features of nominalist theology and uses these to focus on what we find to be "modern" in French and Italian literature of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Langer demonstrates that this literature, often in its most interesting moments, represents freedom from constraint in the figures of the poet and the reader and in the fictional world itself. In Langer's view, nominalist theology provides a set of concepts that helps us understand the intellectual context of that freedom: God, the secular sovereign, and the poet are similarly absolved of external necessity in their relationships to their worlds.

Originally published in 1990.

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.

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