The Icy Fire: Five Studies in European Petrarchism
In this short introductory book, Professor Forster examines Petrarchism as a European phenomenon transcending national boundaries. He begins with a general survey of themes and conventions, providing, with quotation, something like a repertory of the devices. He then shows in an important historical study how various vernacular literatures were seeking for a renewal of poetic diction at the moment when Petrarchism was available to meet the need. The third study examines specific forms and shows how realism in love-relationships could be accommodated within the tradition. A fourth shows how the literary conventions, applied to England's Virgin queen, could serve political and national ends; and the last shows the devices still being used in Goethe's Faust. This is a learned and engaging book, ranging freely among literatures: Latin, Italian, French, Dutch, English, and German, with translations provided. It gives an introduction to one of the most important and longest-lasting traditions in comparative literary studies.
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