Strong Words: Writing and Social Strain in the Italian by Lauro Martines

By Lauro Martines

Powerful phrases is a social background of the Italian Renaissance (1300--1560) in a cultural key. utilizing stories, poems, prayers, and letters as basic assets, Lauro Martines probes spiritual sensibilities, love, alienation, explosive feeling opposed to political authority, the ethical lines of patronage, and the shut methods of city neighborhoods. Case stories of suicide and the seduction of propertied girls sharpen the analysis.By relocating in the back of literary posture and metaphor, Martines exposes the facility of neighborhood angers, fears, and loyalties, of misogyny, cruelty, and women's area. The energy of city event in Renaissance Italy passes sooner than us, as we see the language of literature giving shape and immediacy to the sentiments of daily life.

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Piero della Francesca, Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Raphael, Titian, and most of the great painters of the Renaissance inserted their patrons, whether by easy request or natural choice, into the pictorial world of saints and sanctity. The poetry of patronage did much the same sort of thing. ∞Ω The first line, ‘‘Pietà per dio del mie grieve dolore’’ (Pity my grievous pain, in the name of God), could easily be the opening line of a love sonnet, being fully in keeping with the amatory code. Cosimo is told that Giovanni is ‘‘senza amici,/povero, vecchio, infermo e peccatore’’ (without friends, poor, old, ailing, and a sinner), that he is being treated unjustly, that his case is neither heard nor understood, and that the o≈cials concerned look upon him as an enemy.

For these take us into the religious sensibility of the age: to a spectrum of fears, hopes, and vivid images that will enable us to draw a bead on the history and anthropology of Italian piety in the period from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. ∂ When badly cut or wounded, hardheaded Venetian spice traders, who scoured the seas for profit, 40 Strong Words sometimes fingered religious charms to help stanch the flow of blood; or they clutched a strip of paper with magical religious abbreviations—for example, ‘‘Bx.

A sonnet written about 1420 by the younger Buonaccorso da Montemagno for his patron, Palla di Nofri Strozzi, then the richest man in Florence, is centered on the imagery of Palla’s light: Spirto gentil, che nostra cieca etate di tua chiara virtù lustri et adorni, ................. ≤≥ (Noble spirit, whose bright virtue shines on and adorns our blind-dark age . . ’’≤∑ Looking back to the Renaissance poetry of patronage, historians may be repelled by its facile hyperbole and assume that ‘‘good’’ poets avoided rhetorical exaggeration.

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