Description : The concept of a 'Renaissance' in the arts, in thought, and in more general culture North of the Alps often evokes the idea of a cultural transplant which was not indigenous to, or rooted in, the society from which it emerged. Classic definitions of the European 'Renaissance' during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries have seen it as what was in effect an Italian import into the Gothic North. Yet there were certainly differences, divergences and dichotomies between North and South which have to be addressed. Here, Malcolm Vale argues for a Northern Renaissance which, while cognisant of Italian developments, displayed strong continuities with the indigenous cultures of northern Europe. But it also contributed novelties and innovations which often tended to stem from, and build upon, those continuities. A Short History of the Renaissance in Northern Europe – while in no way ignoring or diminishing the importance of the Hellenic and Roman legacy – seeks other sources, and different uses of classical antiquity, for a rather different kind of 'Renaissance', if such it was, in the North.
Description : With Italy at its centre, but encompassing the whole of Renaissance Europe, this evocative history challenges some of the popularly-held views on the Renaissance period. In particular, whilst always acknowledging the brilliance and exhuberance of Renaissance culture, Robin Kirkpatrick draws equal attention to the strangeness and often unresolved tensions that lay beneath the surface of that culture.Insisting on a European rather than purely Italian viewpoint, he embraces Renaissance thinking and culture in all its diversity: from Northern thinkers such as Cusanus, Luther and Calvin, to the painting of Van der Weyden and El Greco, and the music of the Flemish musicians, Josquin des Prez and Orlando Lassus. Special attention is also paid to the unique contribution made by Margueritte of Navarre to the development of humanist culture. The book concludes with a study of Shakespeare in which his plays are viewed as a searching critique of some of the main principles of Renaissance culture.
Description : Possible Lives uses the saints'lives written by humanists of the Italian Renaissance to explore the intertwining of classical and religious cultures on the eve of the European Reformation. The lives of saints were among the most reproduced and widely distributed literatures of medieval and early modern Europe. During the century before the Reformation, these narratives of impossible goodness fell into the hands of classicizing intellectuals known as humanists. This study examines how the humanist authors received, criticized, and rewrote the traditional stories of exemplary virtue for patrons and audiences who were surprisingly open to their textual experiments. Drawn from a newly constructed catalog of primary sources in manuscript and print, the cases in this book range from the lure of martyrdom as the West confronted Islam to the use of saints'lives in local politics and the rhetorician's classroom. Frazier discusses the writers'perceptions of historical sanctity, the commanding place of the mendicant friars, and one unique account of a contemporary holy woman. Possible Lives shows that the classical Renaissance was also a saintly Renaissance, as humanists deployed their rhetorical and philological skills to "renew the persuasive force of Christian virtue" and "save the cult of the saints." Combining quantitative and anecdotal approaches in a highly readable series of case studies, Frazier reveals the contextual richness of this little-known and unexpectedly large body of Latin hagiography.
Description : By 1520, Niccolò Machiavelli’s life in Florence was steadily improving: he had achieved a degree of literary fame, and, following his removal from the Florentine Chancery by the Medici family, he had managed to gain their respect and patronage. But there is one figure whose substantial contributions to Machiavelli’s restoration has been hitherto neglected – Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi (1482–1549), a younger and fabulously wealthy Florentine nobleman. As manuscript evidence suggests, Strozzi brought Machiavelli into his patronage network and aided many of his post-1520 achievements. This book is the first English biography of Strozzi, as well as the first examination of the patron-client relationship that developed between the two men. William J. Landon reveals Strozzi’s influence on Machiavelli through wide-ranging textual investigations, and especially through Strozzi’s Pistola fatta per la peste – a work that survives as a Machiavelli autograph, and for which Landon has provided the first ever complete English translation and critical edition.
Description : This cultural, historical, and scientific exploration of sleeplessness by Eluned Summers-Bremner begins with the literature of ancient times, and finds its sufferers in prominent texts such as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Mesopotamian epic Gilgamesh, and the Bible. Moving to Romantic and Gothic literature, she shows how sleeplessness continued to play a large role as the advent of street lighting in the nineteenth century inspired the fantastical blurring of daytime reality and night visions and authors connected insomnia to the ephemeral worlds of nightmares and the sublime. Meanwhile, throughout the ages insomnia has been variously categorized by the medical community as a manifestation of a deeper psychological or physical malady. Today’s medical solutions tend to involve prescription drugs—but, as Insomnia reveals, important questions linger about the role of the pharmaceutical industry and the effectiveness of such treatments. “Summers-Bremner’s account of literary usages of insomnia, from Gilgamesh to Garcia Márquez, is a rich one, sufficient to make the case that insomnia is a recurrent theme in Western culture.”––Wall Street Journal “A whimsical tour of the history of how different cultures have viewed not only insomnia but also the night itself, sleep, dreams, darkness, and activities that occur in the dark.”—New England Journal of Medicine “Summers-Bremner’s excellent account of insomnia shows that the consideration of our waking moments is indicative of the changing ways we think about life.”—Financial Times Magazine
Description : Plague and Pleasure is a lively popular history that introduces a new hypothesis about the impetus behind the cultural change in Renaissance Italy. The Renaissance coincided with a period of chronic, constantly recurring plague, unremitting warfare and pervasive insecurity. Consequently, people felt a need for mental escape to alternative, idealized realities, distant in time or space from the unendurable present but made vivid to the imagination through literature, art, and spectacle.
Description : This exploration of the Stuart preoccupation with the darker side of the psyche suggests that fascination with evil perhaps precipitated the radical sociopolitical and cultural changes of the midcentury and that recurring depictions of declining patriarchal authority in plays by Shakespeare, Middleton, Massinger, Ford, and Shirley made possible the cultural assault on monarchy and patriarchy of the period.