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Dante Studies

Vol. 133 (2015) through current issue

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Difficult Games

A Reading of I Racconti by Italo Calvino

Franco Ricci

Examining Calvino's literary experiments as a young artist in search of his narrative voice, Ricci explores the psychological and existential motivations intrinsically linked to the writer's need for textual and systemic patterning. I racconti contains some of Calvino's least-read works, yet these early stories address issues, present scenarios and generate a growing variation of themes that form the heart of Calvino's narrative discourse. Ricci points out that melancholy permeates Calvino's works—even at his most playful. He suggests that if Calvino's highest merit was his sense of wonder and his urge to transform and defeat obscurantism with all the joy he could muster, one must remember that his work expressed, often painfully, the limits of human rationalism. I racconti can thus be read as a catalogue of the anxieties of both the young author and postwar Italian society.

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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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The Flavors of Modernity

Food and the Novel

Gian-Paolo Biasin

From Rabelais's celebration of wine to Proust's madeleine and Virginia Woolf's boeuf en daube in To the Lighthouse, food has figured prominently in world literature. But perhaps nowhere has it played such a vital role as in the Italian novel. In a book flowing with descriptions of recipes, ingredients, fragrances, country gardens, kitchens, dinner etiquette, and even hunger, Gian-Paolo Biasin examines food images in the modern Italian novel so as to unravel their function and meaning. As a sign for cultural values and social and economic relationships, food becomes a key to appreciating the textual richness of works such as Lampedusa's The Leopard, Manzoni's The Betrothed, Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, and Calvino's Under the Jaguar Sun. The importance of the culinary sign in fiction, argues Biasin, is that it embodies the oral relationship between food and language while creating a sense of materiality. Food contributes powerfully to the reality of a text by making a fictional setting seem credible and coherent: a Lombard peasant eats polenta in The Betrothed, whereas a Sicilian prince offers a monumental macaroni timbale at a dinner in The Leopard. Similarly, Biasin shows how food is used by writers to connote the psychological traits of a character, to construct a story by making the protagonists meet during a meal, and even to call attention to the fictionality of the story with a metanarrative description. Drawing from anthropology, psychoanalysis, sociology, science, and philosophy, the author gives special attention to the metaphoric and symbolic meanings of food. Throughout he blends material culture with observations on thematics and narrativity to enlighten the reader who enjoys the pleasures of the text as much as those of the palate.

Originally published in .

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 editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover 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.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

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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Giordano Bruno's The Heroic Frenzies

A Translation with Introduction and Notes

Paul Eugene Memmo Jr.

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was an Italian philosopher, poet, mathematician, and astrologer. This is the first English translation published in the twentieth century of his De gli eroici furori, or The Heroic Frenzies.

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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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