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Continuing my delving into medieval Italian literature, I came across this gem. Il Novellino is a collection of short anecdotes and popular stories written around 1250-1300. Most (semi-?)educated people of the time knew these tales and would recognise them if heard told. Many are familiar to us as forming the basis of the stories of Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare, etc. As there’s no easily obtainable copy of this public domain text, I’ve formatted the text into ePub and PDF formats.
Il Novellino is one of the first works extant in the developing Italian language. Latin at this time is slowing losing […]
The Odyssey of Homer is fascinating in a number of aspects. The plot is remarkably modern in outline, pacing and development and the insight into the domestic life of (pre-) Dark Age Greece cannot be underestimated. Yet for all this I didn’t like the book and was glad to be finished and rid of it. Where the Iliad is grand in scope and deals with characters struggling with ethical and social conflicts, the Odyssey forces heroic characters to wallow in the tedious and the mundane.
I guess we need a couple of paragraphs to get my reaction to the story […]
Here’s what shits me about post-modernism and post-modernists:By de-privileging grand narratives, all narratives are privileged, even the inherently stupid ones.
I get the notion of the arbitrariness of privilege and the cultural, class, gender, etc specificity of any particular grand narrative. I really do. But just because that may be true, it doesn’t follow that anything you have to say is worth listening to. Only under the notion of all points of view being equally valid can, say, creation science or climate change denial, get a look in. If science is just another narrative no different from any other […]
Ever since I achieved my DELF B1 certificate more than a year ago, I’ve allowed my French to slip. I just haven’t used it. I’m trying to correct this sorry state of affairs. Here’s how.
First, as always for me, is listening practice. If you can’t understand what’s being said, there’s not much point. Living languages are all about conversing, gossipping and chatting. Only dead languages, such as Latin and Anglo-Saxon (which I also understand) centre on reading. I used to listen to a wide range of podcasts but I find, this time around, that I’ve limited myself to the […]
Niccolo Machiavelli is the odd man out on my Italian Renaissance reading list in that he is a political theorist rather than a poet and lived around 150-200 years are the other three authors on the list: Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch. He’s also completely misunderstood by people who have only read his other famous book, The Prince.
Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy (1517) is Machiavelli’s reactions in essay form to reading the Roman author’s history of the great Republic and looking at the political world of his own day and, in particular, of his home town, […]
Next on my Italian Renaissance reading list is the father of Humanism, Francesco Petrarca, better know in the English speaking world simply as Petrarch (1304-76). He spanned the gap between Dante and Boccaccio, being friends with the latter and his dad mostly likely being an acquaintance of the former.
I’ve read and studied Petrarch before, at university and after. Reading him in translation is always a bit of a disappointment. The translator can choose either to convey his carefully nuanced meaning complete with complex classical allusions or to capture the easy flowing music of his words. No single translation can […]
My fascination with the Italian Renaissance, its history and in particular its literature, continues to grow. To feed it, I’m embarking on a small reading project which covers the greats of the period. Here’s the list of those authors who made the grade (notice that they’re all either Florentine or intimately associated with Florence). Let me know of any others I should add to the list.
All of these authors I’ve read before but either in excerpt or a long, long time ago in a university far, far away. Now, I can give them the time and appreciation they deserve. […]
This is a follow on from the facebook meme which has been doing the rounds of late. Below are a list of four writers whose work has changed the way I look at the world, at people or at fiction. Surprisingly, there’s no literary figures here. All of them are commercial writers. I figured that the likes of William Shakespeare, Italo Calvino or Geoffery Chaucer would figure in the shorter list but they don’t. Great literature may elucidate the human condition but, when the chips are down, we turn to that which speaks to us loudly and clearly rather than […]
I fancy myself as a rather literary kind of guy. I read quite a bit and not only books with pictures in them; some of them are just words. There’s a whole list of books which are form the core of western civilisation which I should know better. While a don’t want to get into arguments for and against the idea of “The Canon,” the follow are a list of books and authors whose works are continually appearing in one form or another or are being alluded to in pretty much every story being told today.