Petrarchan Love and the Continental Renaissance
Yale University Press, 1999 M01 1 - 198 pages
The 366 lyrics of Petrarch's Canzoniere exert a unique influence in literary history. From the mid-fifteenth century to the early seventeenth, the poems are imitated in every major language of western Europe, and for a time they provide Renaissance Europe with an almost exclusive sense of what love poetry should be. In this stimulating look at the international phenomenon of Petrarch's poetry, Gordon Braden focuses on materials in languages other than English--Italian, French, and Spanish, with brief citations from Croatian and Cypriot Greek, among others. Braden closely examines Petrarch's theme of love for an impossible object of desire, a theme that captivated and inspired across centuries, societies, and languages.
The book opens with a fresh interpretation of Petrarch's sequence, in which Braden defines the poet's innovations in the context of his predecessors, Dante and the troubadours. The author then examines how Petrarchan predispositions affect various strains of Renaissance literature: prose narrative, verse narrative, and, primarily, lyric poetry. In the final chapter, Braden turns to the poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to demonstrate a sophisticated case of Petrarchism taken to one of its extremes within the walls of a convent in seventeenth-century Mexico.
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