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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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Du Bellay’s Cendre and the Formless Signifier

Du Bellay’s Cendre and the Formless Signifier

(p.144) Chapter 5 Du Bellay’s Cendre and the Formless Signifier
The Poetics of Ruins in Renaissance Literature

Andrew Hui

Fordham University Press

La poudreuse cendre, “the dusty ashes,” is the lexical guide to this chapter. Signifying a persistent, formless materiality, this formulation is repeated like a mantra throughout Les Antiquitez. Cendre and poudre play an operative role in Du Bellay’s poetics, for the two words are used to describe the matter of literary tradition itself and to rethink the nature of poetic representation. We will first give a mini-history of the cendre topos in the literary and biblical tradition, which will help us think about the nature of signs and their signified vis-à-vis Rome. Then we will look at how Du Bellay uses repetition in order to evoke the innumerable permutations of Rome. And finally with architecture we go back to the exegi monumentum topos as it is played out in the afterlife of Du Bellay’s sonnets. Under the long shadow of a ruinous antiquity, Du Bellay crafts his monuments as fluid, mutable things.

Keywords:   Du Bellay, dust, monuments, relics, translation

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