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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.

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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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Edith Bruck in the Mirror

Fictional Transitions and Cinematic Narratives

by Philip Balma

This important new study is motivated by a desire to better understand and situate Bruck’s art as well as to advance (and, when necessary, to revise) the critical discourse on her considerable and eclectic body of work. As such, it underscores and analyzes the intermedial nature of her contributions to contemporary Italian culture, which should no longer be understood merely in terms of her willingness to revisit the subject of the Holocaust on the printed page or the silver screen. It also includes previously unpublished interviews with the author. The book will be of broad interest to scholars and students of Jewish (especially Holocaust) studies, Italian literature, film studies, women’s studies, and postcolonial culture.

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Genealogies of Fiction

Women Warriors and the Medieval Imagination in the "Orlando furioso"

Eleonora Stoppino

Genealogies of Fiction is a study of gender, dynastic politics, and intertextuality in medieval and Renaissance chivalric epic, focused on Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando furioso. Relying on the direct study of manuscripts and incunabula, this project challenges the fixed distinction between medieval and early modern texts and reclaims medieval popular epic as a key source for the Furioso.Tracing the formation of the character of the warrior woman, from the amazon to Bradamante, the book analyzes the process of gender construction in early modern Italy. By reading the tension between the representations of women as fighters, lovers, and mothers, this study shows how the warrior woman is a symbolic center for the construction of legitimacy in the complex web of fears and expectations of the Northern Italian Renaissance court.

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Giambattista Vico

Keys to the "New Science"

Giambattista Vico: Keys to the "New Science" brings together in one volume translations, commentaries, and essays that illuminate the background of Giambattista Vico's major work. Thora Ilin Bayer and Donald Phillip Verene have collected a series of texts that help us to understand the progress of Vico's thinking, culminating in the definitive version of the New Science, which was published in 1744.

Bayer and Verene provide useful introductions both to the collection as a whole and to the individual writings. What emerges is a clear picture of the decades-long process through which Vico elaborated his revolutionary theory of history and culture. Of particular interest are the first sketch of the new science from his earlier work, the Universal Law, and Vico's response to the false book notice regarding the first version of his New Science.

The volume also includes additions to the 1744 edition that Vico had written out but that do not appear in the English translations-including his brief chapter on the "Reprehension of the Metaphysics of Descartes, Spinoza, and Locke"-and a bibliography of all of Vico's writings that have appeared in English. Giambattista Vico: Keys to the "New Science" is a unique and vital companion for anyone reading or rereading this landmark of Western intellectual history.

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Giraldi Cinthio on Romances

Giraldi Cinthio. translated by Henry L. Snuggs

Giraldi Cinthio's Discorso intorno al comporre dei romanzi, here translated into English for the first time, was one of the most important critical works of the Renaissance. Written as a defense of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Giraldi's discourse is an inquiry both into the nature of poetry and into the characteristics of the "heroic" or epic genre, in which some of the world's richest poems fall.

Henry L. Snuggs introduces this translation with an incisive interpretation of Giraldi's critical theory. Giraldi was the first, Snuggs states, to make a significant plea in sixteenth-century criticism for the poetry of that (and our) time. The modern heroic poem cannot imitate the ancient in every respect, he held, for the principles of both decorum and verisimilitude required it to reflect the mores of its own age, although this did not mean the creation of a new genre. That which distinguishes Giraldi as a critic perhaps more than anything else, Snuggs concludes, was his recognition of a poetic unity other than that defined by Aristotle.

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The Governance of Friendship

Law and Gender in the Decameron

The Governance of Friendship: Law and Gender in the Decameron by Michael Sherberg addresses two related and heretofore unexamined problems in the pages of the Decameron: its theory of friendship and the legal theory embedded in it. Sherberg shows how Aristotle’s Ethics as well as Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica inform these two discourses, at the intersection of which Boccaccio locates the question of gender relations which is one of the book’s central concerns.

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Hemingway's Italy

New Perspectives

Rena Sanderson

In 1918, a one-month stint with the American Red Cross ambulance corps at the Italian front marked the beginning of Ernest Hemingway's fascination with Italy—a place second only to Upper Michigan in stimulating his lifelong passion for geography and local expertise. Hemingway's Italy offers a thorough reassessment of Italy's importance in the author's life and work during World War I and the 1920s, when he emerged as a promising young writer, and during his maturity in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

This collection of eighteen essays presents a broad view of Hemingway's personal and literary response to Italy. The contributors, some of the most distinguished Hemingway scholars, incorporate new biographical and historical information as well as critical approaches ranging from formalist and structuralist theory to cultural and interdisciplinary explorations.

Included are discussions of Italy's psychological functioning in Hemingway's life, the author's correspondence with his father during the writing of A Farewell to Arms, his stylistic experimentation and characterization in that novel, his juxtaposition of the themes of love and war, and his take on Fascism in both his fiction and journalistic work. In addition, the essayists explore relevant contexts of period and place—such as the rise of Fascism, ethnic attitudes, and the cultural currents between Italy and the United States.

A landmark study, Hemingway's Italy brings long-overdue attention to this great writer's international role as cultural ambassador.

Contributors: Rena Sanderson, Nancy R. Comley, Kim Moreland, Steven Florczyk, Kirk Curnutt, Lawrence H. Martin, John Robert Bittner, Joseph M. Flora, Jeffrey A. Schwarz, J. Gerald Kennedy, H. R. Stoneback, Beverly Taylor, Ellen Andrews Knodt, Linda Wagner-Martin, Robert Fleming, Miriam B. Mandel, Margaret O'Shaughnessey, Stephen L. Tanner, Vita Fortunati

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In Dante's Wake

Reading from Medieval to Modern in the Augustinian Tradition

John Freccero, Edited by Danielle Callegari, and Melissa Swain

Waking to find himself shipwrecked on a strange shore before a dark wood, the pilgrim of the Divine Comedy realizes he must set his sights higher and guide his ship to a radically different port. Starting on the sand of that very shore with Dante, John Freccero begins retracing the famous voyage recounted by the poet nearly 700 years ago. Freccero follows pilgrim and poet through the Comedy and then beyond, inviting readers both uninitiated and accomplished to join him in navigating this complex medieval masterpiece and its influence on later literature. Perfectly impenetrable in its poetry and unabashedly ambitious in its content, the Divine Comedy is the cosmos collapsed on itself, heavy with dense matter and impossible to expand. Yet Dante’s great triumph is seen in the tiny, subtle fragments that make up the seamless whole, pieces that the poet painstakingly sewed together to form a work that insinuates itself into the reader and inspires the work of the next author. Freccero magnifies the most infinitesimal elements of that intricate construction to identify self-similar parts, revealing the full breadth of the great poem. Using this same technique, Freccero then turns to later giants of literature— Petrarch, Machiavelli, Donne, Joyce, and Svevo—demonstrating how these authors absorbed these smallest parts and reproduced Dante in their own work. In the process, he confronts questions of faith, friendship, gender, politics, poetry, and sexuality, so that traveling with Freccero, the reader will both cross unknown territory and reimagine familiar faces, swimming always in Dante’s wake.

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Italian Culture

Vol. 23 (2005) through Vol. 26 (2008)

Italian Culture, the official publication of the American Association for Italian Studies (AAIS), is an annual refereed journal published by Michigan State University Press. Its interdisciplinary scope reflects the broad and diverse interests of the Association's members, offering subscribers scholarly articles in Italian language, linguistics, history, literature, cinema, politics, philosophy, folklore, popular culture, migration, and the influence of Italy on other cultures. It also includes articles in comparative literature and cultural studies.

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