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Flirting with the Chamaleon: Alberti on Love

From: MLN
Volume 121, Number 1, January 2006 (Italian Issue)
pp. 102-129 | 10.1353/mln.2006.0033


Within the vastness and variety of Leon Battista Alberti's work, the theme of love seems to pose a rather intractable problem, approached so far as a mere expression of his chameleonic versatility and, as such, as a juvenile example of his rhetorical mastery. And yet, the pervasiveness of the theme of love--amicable love, fraternal love, paternal love, uxorial love, but also sentimental love--in his writings claims for a more detailed account. This article aims at discussing Alberti's personal treatment of love by focusing on his Deifira, the first love dialogue ever written in the Italian vernacular, in accordance with its intellectual outline, its phenomenological design, and its philosophical significance, in order to illuminate what can be understood as an archeology of the emotional experience--an archeology of the emotional gestures and of the emotional words concealed in Alberti's amorous writings.

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