In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Der weibliche Petrarkismus im Cinquecento: Transformationen des lyrischen Diskurses bei Vittoria Colonna und Gaspara Stampa
  • Reinier Leushuis
Ulrike Schneider . Der weibliche Petrarkismus im Cinquecento: Transformationen des lyrischen Diskurses bei Vittoria Colonna und Gaspara Stampa. Text und Kontext 25. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2007. 364 pp. bibl. €46. ISBN: 978-3-515-09047-6.

This study of female Petrarchism in the Italian Renaissance, in particular in the works of Vittoria Colonna and Gaspara Stampa, is a Habilitationschrift supervised by Professor Klaus Hempfer and thus representative of the outstanding "Petrarkismus Forschung" that the latter and other German scholars have pursued and elicited for several decades. While Schneider's study does not offer groundbreaking new perspectives, the author conducts an extremely thorough, detailed, and methodical exploration of the complexities of female poetic writing in a Petrarchan vein, such as the recoding of Petrarchan narrative premises, the conception of a marital Petrarchism, the topoi of modesty and a reciprocal love experience, and the inclusion of atypical poetic forms, such as the love complaint inspired by Ovid's Heroides. The book's goal is to redefine Cinquecento Petrarchism by mapping out "female Petrarchism" as a Petrarchan "subsystem" ("Teilsystem," 316), whereby Schneider perspicaciously distinguishes gender-driven recodifications from general variations on Petrarchan poetics, and female Petrarchism from a female "group phenomenon" (327), that is, a tradition of women poets modeled after Vittoria Colonna. (In other words, not all female poets in the Cinquecento, while inspired by Colonna, were also female "Petrarchists," Veronica Franco being a case in point.)

Unfortunately, the study's readability suffers at times from aspects inherent to its nature as a comprehensive scholarly exercise, such as the cumbersome first chapter that discusses at length existing critical perspectives on (female) Petrarchism, the canzoniere-form, and their "Systemvariante" (80). However, Schneider's appeal to reanalyze aspects of canzoniere writing in female poets by revisiting their first editions is convincing.

The following chapter analyzes in-depth female (re-)codifications of Petrarchan discourse from both a philological and historical perspective. Departing from the inherent formal latitude and transformative capacities of Petrarchan poetics, Schneider argues that it allowed female poets to create a free space ("Freiraum," 99) in which they could creatively amalgamate Petrarchan elements with Neoplatonism, and with the competing tradition of the Roman elegy as fueled by Ovid's Heroides. The elegy offered not only a wide spectrum of exemplary female voices and identities—the abandoned and deceived wife, the faithful servant, even the betrayed poetess (Sappho) —but its matrimonial variant also allowed to enrich the Petrarchan scheme by including marital love. Schneider fruitfully embeds her analysis of the gendering of the poetic communicative situation —the dynamics of male-versus-female authors who stage male-versus-female poetic voices —which she considers fundamental for Colonna's and Stampa's poetry, in a contemporary socioliterary context that influenced female authors in recodifying Petrarchan poetics, such as the significance of Domenichi's 1559 [End Page 1226] anthology of female poets, the role of women in courtly ragionamenti amorosi, the staging of speaking female subjects in Bembo's Asolani and Ariosto's Orlando furioso, and the canonical influence of Boccaccio's Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta and Pontano's De amore coniugali.

The second half of Schneider's study discusses the Rime of Vittoria Colonna (1538) and Gaspara Stampa (1554). For her analysis of Colonna, Schneider argues convincingly in favor of the rather problematic editio princeps on the grounds that Colonna's model function for later female poets can be traced back to this edition. In detailed discussions, Schneider shows how Colonna rewrites Petrarchan affetti dogliosi as "self-therapeutical" (174) elegiac mourning for her deceased husband ("scrivo sol per sfogar l'interna doglia" ), whereby the Petrarchan intangibility of the beloved is reframed as loss of a past amore corrisposto. Concerning the Rime as canzoniere, the author evinces Colonna's inner Neoplatonic overcoming of the loss of a marital love in vita (185), retrospectively evoked but, unlike Petrarch, not negatively defined as errore, through a yearning for an ultimately impossible spiritual reunion in morte, whereby the emphasis shifts from sensi-desio to ragione pensiero. From a gender perspective, the traditional opposition between a male subject and a female object...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 1226-1228
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2009
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.