Petrarch and the Textual Origins of Interpretation (Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition)

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Teodolinda Barolini ; Wayne Storey. Columbia studies in the classical tradition , v.

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Wayne Storey. Table of contents. Home About Help Search. This dual circulation in fact contributed to the dual reading of this work, both as fragments and as collection. Moreover, the manuscript tradition itself of the Familiarium rerum liber testifies to this double nature. The interpretive problems that surface in discussions of the Familiarium rerum liber are strikingly similar to those that we can discern in the critical history of the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta: as critics have imposed a chronological narrative on the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta and have been troubled to the point of resistance by signs that Petrarch thwarts chronology see my essay in this volume , so critics of the Familiarium rerum liber have been troubled by the presence of fictitious letters.

As in the collection of poems, so in the collection of letters, the dates of the individual fragments—some of them explicit, some recovered through philological spadework—do not always follow chronological order; the order of the collection follows its own logic, not strictly chronological. And, as with the poems, there has been a tendency on the part of crit- ics to respond to these divergences by overriding them in various ways: the fictitous letters generate a critical response similar to that generated by the out-of-order anniversary sonnets.

Only a close diachronic reading that acknowledges the order in which the letters have been carefully arranged enables us to transform the biography of some of the letters into the autobiography of the entire collection. And only philological effort can put together the pieces of the puzzle and protect us from our own simplifying tendencies so that we can arrive at a proper Petrarchan epistolary hermeneutics. This essay argues for a Petrarchan episotolary hermeneutics grounded in a concept of intimacy or familiaritas, itself grounded in Aristotelian and Ciceronian ethical and rhetorical theory.

Whereas letter-writing for Cicero, building on Aristotle, overcomes space, the letter for Petrarch looks to overcome time. Focusing on temporal distantiation, moreover, Petrarch extends the intimacy between letter-writer and letter-reader to the relation between writers and readers more generally. That is precisely what this volumes hopes to do. Wayne Storey In the relationship between textual scholarship and literary criticism, we usually think of the former leading the way toward the discoveries of the latter. Without well-prepared texts, criticism gropes in the dark among half truths and conjecture.

But for certain literary icons, and for any number of cultural reasons, textual studies can lag strangely behind philological inquiry and critical interpretation. By the same token, we would no more attempt to force the verses of E. Yet in many ways the textual condition of the Fragmenta remains to this day the most problematic because it has seemed the easiest to resolve since the nineteenth-century authentication of the partial holograph Lat.

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Thus were launched three projects to begin systematic reappraisals of essential materials in this textual tradition. The second, nearing completion after years of research, is a translation into Italian 2 Higgins , Along the way there have been additional studies that have been integral to the edition: the revelation of the importance of MS Morgan M. This moment of editorial attention coincided with my own final design skirmishes and decisions for the first number of the new journal of the Society for Textual Scholarship, Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts and Interpretation Indiana University Press , in which a clear distinction between the punctuation of the quoted author has to be distinguished from the punctuation of the quoting scholar in spite of the editorial conventions of American publishing, which too often and inconsistently repunctuates the cited author within the quotation marks.

It is our belief that agreement on how we talk about citation and materials will encourage greater dialogue among philologists, editors, and literary critics. Yet the textual and interpretative opportunities invoked by the careful study of the textual cultures of any given work extend well beyond the field of scholarly editing, reaching into the formation of critical attitudes that define even our own mechanisms of inquiry.

Turning the same critical eye to the impact of the studies of Ernest Hatch Wilkins will be a common activity of several of the essays in this volume and I will not linger here on the topic. I will endeavor to explain why I think that the point where hermeneutics and philology intersect is a crossroads to which the serious student of Petrarch must almost inevi- tably arrive, even if then to depart again—as most of us will—for a place more fully philological or more fully interpretive.

What is it about this crossroads, this particular intellectual juncture, which is peculiarly Petrarchan? That question furnishes the framework of this paper. Given my topic, it is perhaps best to declare at the outset that I am not a philologist. However, over the course of an intellectual life spent thinking about thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Italian texts I have been drawn, apparently ineluctably, ever further into matters philological, undoubtedly because in this field philology continues to collide with interpretation and the two cannot be neatly segregated.

Nowhere is this collision more evident than in Petrarch studies, though it occurs in other intellectual domains as well. For now, my point is autobiographical: in my adult life, the original solicitation to engage with philological issues came from Petrarch. It was not then possible to foretell the fortunate turn of the wheel whereby philology would become fashionable again via interest in material culture on the one hand and hermeneutics on the other.

A classicist as an undergradu- ate, I was familiar with the philological discussions that can be found in the notes of Latin and Greek editions, and this background gave me an appreciation for the importance and hermeneutic complexity of the editorial enterprise. Citations of this essay are from the reprint.

Wayne Storey and in the context of standards set by the new facsimile edition of the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta by Gino Belloni, Furio Brugnolo, H. Wayne Storey, and Stefano Zamponi—it was essential reading at the time. I needed to understand how the construction of the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta was achieved in material terms because it seemed clear that the material and the ideo- logical would reflect each other.

In retrospect, I see that the experience of reading Wilkins also incubated the thesis that Petrarch, more than most authors, more for instance than Dante or Boccaccio, created an opus that in fact requires would-be interpreters to understand the relevant philological and codicological issues. How is this behavior different from that of any other author?

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After all, all textual construction is ultimately located in the material form in which it was first made, whether that be in clay tablets or com- puter files or parchment codices. In composing the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, Petrarch took previously written lyrics and literally moved them in the process of arranging them in a new—and to him significant—order. Petrarch transcribed poems from drafts, some of which are preserved in the codex Vaticano Latino , known as the codice degli abbozzi,6 into a standing order. The last of these orders is preserved as the partial autograph, codex Vaticano Latino Let me mention here that, while Vaticano Latino is technically only a partial autograph because Petrarch did not per- sonally copy all the poems in it himself, the poems not transcribed by Petrarch were transcribed by his secretary Giovanni Malpaghini under his direct supervision.

Petrarch and the Textual Origins of Interpretation (Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition)

And, in fact, once the authen- See Pacca and Paolino for their useful edition of Vaticano Latino See Wilkins a, 75— Chief among these macro-structures is his division of the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta into two parts. The significance of the division, the most overt exploitation of for- mal structure in the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta and a creative act without precedent in the lyric tradition, is immense. The very act of composing a text—in this case the very act of collecting the lyrics—in and of itself generates a beginning and an ending, but the willed and constructed nature of a beginning or of an ending is less evident if a text contains no other formal structure no chapter divisions or other segmentations.

I take this novelty in the lyric tradition to be an abstract—that is, an order-based rather than content-based—way of probing the very nature of transition. The question posed by the content of the canzone—is the poet capable of conversion, capable of a new beginning, capable of transition? For a description of the Chigi form, see Phelps ; the codex itself is described by De Robertis But, as we try to understand the significance of this division for Petrarch, we are distracted by another story: the story of centuries of editorial mishandling, of editorial and philological lapses.

And then, in a further assault on the integrity of the authorized text, because apparently the addition of unauthorized material in the form of the headings to the autograph was not sufficient to guarantee the narrative transparency, the interpretive legibility, that editors and commentators sought, another change was made: the beginning of part 2 was moved in order to accommodate the narrative story-line told by the invented rubrics. When the material and philological witness—the autograph codex—collided with the hermeneutic imperative to explain and read the text in more explicitly narrative and biographical terms, the hermeneutic imperative won.

Edizione critica. See also Storey a, an account of the vagaries of the material reception of the Fragmenta. In justifying his systematic reorganization of the text, Vellutello vehemently denies the Petrarchan paternity of the Aldine editions. Let me repeat a point that puts us squarely at the crossroads of philology and hermeneutics: in the case of the division of the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, interpretive pressures for centuries trumped the philological evidence. Petrarch is undoubtedly provocative in his resistance to an overde- termined interpretive template, for reluctance to accept canzone as the starting-point for part 2 has been fueled by the fact that sonnets and treat Laura alive.

XLI, 17, and V. As Phelps , reminds us, Cesareo argues that Petrarch intended to transfer and to the end of part 1. When the text failed to conform to our prism, we altered the text. An interpretive framework completely and hence simplistically dependent on chronology and biography has been superimposed onto a text that simultaneously invokes and evades biography and is not so much depen- dent on chronology as selectively engaged in exploiting it. For centuries, however, editors responded by simply overriding the philological evidence.

In other words, rather than acknowledging the interpretive—not philologi- cal—challenge posed by sonnets and and asking what Petrarch intended to signify through his order, perhaps arriving at the conclusion that Petrarch inserted sonnets and into their positions in the sequence precisely to deter us from too much privileging of Laura and her individual death and to goad us in the direction of more universal issues of transition and conversion, the very editors who should be the custodians of the philological and material evidence have typically responded by overriding and suppressing it.

There are two issues here. Again, the problem is less that Wilkins engaged in interpretation than that others have represented him as though he did not. Wilkins does not misrepresent what he is doing, although it is fair to say that he asserts his hypotheses with great confidence, writing in a dry and factual manner that lulls the reader into forgetting that he is hypothesizing. Forms five through nine are successive elaborations of the one form preserved as Vaticano Latino And forms one through three are hypotheses regarding the successive elaborations that led to the one Chigi form.

In any case, midst the hypotheses and the extrapolations, Wilkins unambiguously states the facts. Two forms exist: an earlier form, the Chigi, and a later form, Vaticano Latino , which unlike the Chigi bears the traces of much revision and emendation. Therefore, the nine forms are best conceived as metaphors that permit Wilkins to set forth his personal vision of the progressive construction of the making of the Canzoniere.

In fact, they are a narrative conceit, rather like the nine heavens that permit Dante the pilgrim to experience paradise diachronically while Dante the poet insists on its synchronic- ity. If we on the receiving end could be clear about the status of the nine forms, there would be no harm done, but that is not what has occurred. Rather, these forms have taken on a rhetorical life of their own, apparently more important than their lack of a real historical or material life, so that not only is their existence taken for granted in the critical literature but also their very contours.

The rhetorically institutionalized life of the nine forms was a concern to me already in my essay of They are on the whole ordered chronologically, but, as we have already noted, there are two members of the set that are out of chronological order. Reasoning on the basis of the three principles of construction for the Chigi form proposed by Phelps—general chronological order, variety of form, and variety of content—and noting that there is less variety of form and content in part 1 after sonnet i.

The question could hardly be answered with certainty unless some fortunate chance should reveal either a MS preserving that earlier form, or a MS of the Chigi form revealing paleographically such a clear story of the process of addition as that revealed by The question may be answered, nevertheless, with a considerable degree of assurance. It will be remembered that No.

It seems probable, for the chronological reason indicated, that No. The two preceding poems Nos.