Lyric in the Renaissance: From Petrarch to Montaigne
11 Feb 2018
Cambridge University Press
Ullrich Langer (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Moving from a definition of the lyric to the innovations introduced by Petrarch's poetic language, this study goes on to propose a new reading of several French poets (Charles d'Orleans, Ronsard, and Du Bellay), and a re-evaluation of Montaigne's understanding of the most striking poetry and its relation to his own prose. Instead of relying on conventional notions of Renaissance subjectivity, it locates recurring features of this poetic language that express a turn to the singular and that herald lyric poetry's modern emphasis on the utterly particular. By combining close textual analysis with more modern ethical concerns this study establishes clear distinctions between what poets do and what rhetoric and poetics say they do. It shows how the tradition of rhetorical commentary is insufficient in accounting for this startling effectiveness of lyric poetry, manifest in Petrarch's Rime Sparse and the collections of the best poets writing after him.