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The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature$
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Andrew Hui

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823273355

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823273355.001.0001

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Introduction A Japanese Friend

Introduction A Japanese Friend

(p.1) Introduction A Japanese Friend
The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature

Andrew Hui

Fordham University Press

The Renaissance was the Ruin-naissance, the birth of the ruin as a distinct category of cultural discourse that became an inspirational force in the poetic imagination, artistic expression, and historical inquiry of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe. The ruin functions as a privileged cipher or master topos that marks the rupture between the world of the humanists and the world of antiquity. The Renaissance sees a new understanding of both ruins and poetics, made possible by sustained meditation on the crumbled monuments of antiquity. The book imagines fluid multiplicity rather than fixed monumentalization as a survival strategy in the classical tradition. Its method is avowedly a philological one. This approach is particularly appropriate to the subject matter, since both philology and the study of ruins are fundamentally concerned with the figure of synecdoche, about imagining the whole through their parts. To make its case, the book uses three words with particularly rich semantic reach and deep etymological roots: vestigium in Petrarch, cendre in Du Bellay, and moniment in Spenser. They form “word clouds” in their authors’ œuvres: verbal constellations of associations that provide different iterations of the materiality of memory.

Keywords:   Latin literature, monuments, philology, Renaissance, ruins

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