Petrarch in Britain: Interpreters, Imitators, and Translators over 700 years

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Martin McLaughlin, Letizia Panizza, Peter Hainsworth
OUP/British Academy, Nov 15, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 384 pages
Petrarch was Italy's second most famous writer (after Dante), and indeed from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries he was much better known and more influential in English literature than Dante. His Italian love lyrics constituted the major influence on European love poetry for at least two centuries from 1400 to 1600, and in Britain he was imitated by Chaucer, the Elizabethans, and other lyric poets up until the end of the eighteenth century. With Romanticism Dante ousted Petrarch from his pre-eminent position, but in our post-Romantic age, attention has now started to swing back to Petrarch. This volume is the most comprehensive and up to date survey of Petrarch's literary legacy in Britain. Starting with his own views of those whom he called the 'barbari Britanni', the volume then explores a number of key topics: Petrarch's analysis of the self; his dialogue with other classical and Italian authors; Petrarchism and anti-Petrarchism in Renaissance Italy; Petrarchism in England and Scotland; and Petrarch's modern legacy in both Italy and Britain. Many important texts and poets are considered, including Giordano Bruno, Leopardi, Foscolo, Ascham, Sidney, Spenser, and Walter Savage Landor. The twenty chapters collected here are written by major scholars of Petrarch in the UK and Italy and will be essential reading for scholars and students of both Italian and British literature, as well as comparative literature.

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