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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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The Rebirth of Poetics

The Rebirth of Poetics

(p.27) Chapter 1 The Rebirth of Poetics
The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature

Andrew Hui

Fordham University Press

This chapter traces the genealogy of the immortality of poetry topos from antiquity to the sixteenth century. It argues that the Renaissance poetics of ruins’s yearning for timelessness is accomplished through the strategy of a temporal multiplicity, a process that transmutes the past and in turn open its own transformation, from author to author, reader to reader. In other words, Renaissance poetry, implicitly or explicitly, hopes to transcend its temporal and spatial horizons (aspiring to be a monument), yet finds its survival in the immanent world, by being recycled, cited, and transformed by successors (living as a ruin). This tension—to be within or without time—drives much of the discourse surrounding ruins. Architectural destruction always compels poets to create works that rise above the sublunary world, while at the same time it inevitably leads them back into the thickets of exchange and mediation. The chapter ends with close-reading of several sonnets of Shakespeare.

Keywords:   Classical literature, Horace, immortality topos, Renaissance, Shakespeare, Tower of Babel

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