- Rethinking Gaspara Stampa in the Canon of Renaissance Poetry ed. by Unn Falkeid, and Aileen A. Feng
Rethinking Gaspara Stampa in the Canon of Renaissance Poetry, edited by Unn Falkeid and Aileen A. Feng, establishes a broad foundation for the study of the poetry of Gaspara Stampa (1523?–1554). This meticulously edited volume invites reading from cover to cover. The collection centres on Stampa's only extant work, the Rime (1554), a lyric sequence published six months after her death. Essays from the disciplines of literature, gender and women's studies, philosophy, ecocriticism, and history reveal the connections between Stampa's writing and a wide range of early modern cultural and intellectual movements. These include Petrarchism, Neoplatonism, medieval and early modern concepts of the sublime, and Renaissance writing about women.
In the opening essay Jane Tylus identifies Stampa's intertextual allusions to the poems of, and writing about, Sappho. Newly rediscovered fragments of Sappho's work appeared in early modern texts printed after Stampa's death. However, Tylus traces the intellectual networks around Stampa to posit an earlier contemporary discourse and manuscript circulation of Sappho's poetry to account for Stampa's significant allusive references to Sappho. These references bear directly on Stampa's authorial positioning both in a genealogy of female authorship and within the Petrarchan tradition. They also represent one of the earliest poetic responses to the sublime that arose out of the rediscovery of the pseudo-Longinian treatise On the Sublime. In Stampa's innovative emphasis on embodied—rather than idealized or spiritual—love, Unn Falkeid establishes the parallel presence of an earlier tradition of the sublime. Fulkeid demonstrates the continuity of Stampa's sublime realism with a medieval Neoplatonic tradition nurtured within the dolce stil nuovo of Dante's generation of poets, and Franciscan spirituality. Aileen Feng unravels the history of female invidia as a corrosive element in the representation of homosocial relations between women from the Middle Ages. Feng locates this trope in the Rime in references to an anonymous female rival, envious of both Stampa's beloved and her status as poet. By articulating her desire for the other woman's envy in her proem, and elsewhere in the collection, Stampa establishes a triangle of mimetic rivalry between herself, the anonymous women, and her beloved. Stampa's representation of female envy then functions within her canzoniere to enable, rather than discredit or undermine, Stampa's poetics, thereby recuperating the trope of female invidia.
Close readings of such themes as jealousy and the pains of love, in Stampa's Rime are complemented within the collection by broader studies of Stampa reception and poetics. Angela Capodivacca explores a literary forgery that stages a correspondence between Stampa and 'Mirtilla', a female correspondent addressed in a passionate epistolary poem in the Rime (poem 291). Capodivacca argues that the intertextual web of poems and letters woven after Stampa's death in the voices [End Page 209] of Gaspara and Mirtilla, which stretches into the nineteenth century, embodies the desire expressed within Stampa's poem for intimate communion and community through epistolary and poetic exchange. Ulrike Schneider considers sixteenth-century debates about the definition of the lyric genre and the status of the lyric 'I' in her study of Stampa's strategic use of personae. Stampa used several masks within the Rime—the poet-lover, Anasilla (a metonym for the lover-poet and Stampa's academic pastoral persona), and Stampa—that served to reference and blur the extratextual world of the female author and the intratextual world of the poetry. Encomia addressed to Stampa, and correspondence poems presented after the love poetry within the macrotext of the Rime, take as a theme the fictional status of the canzoniere. Through the textual structure, and by appearing in a variety of roles within and outside the love poetry, Schneider argues, Stampa plays with the ambiguous status of the lyric as neither purely fictional nor entirely pragmatic and...