Lila fabula (Italian Edition)

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The appointment runs from December 30, to May 24, ; thus the appointment of a Pietro Visconti as Commissario of Brescia beginning on May 24, her p. II , 21 , , But his biography has been rendered extremely difficult by the fact that in Northern Italy there were seven Gaspari Visconti Contemporary with him, and four others near enough or known 58 enough to be easily confused with him.

In the interest of future work on the subject, lt may be of use to list the other Contemporary and near- contemporary namesakes here, to facilitate distinguishing them from the poet. The seven contemporaries were: Santoro, Gli uffici del dominio sforzesco , Milan, hereafter, Santoro, , p"i Lodovico ll Moro del Mb Trivulziano , c. However, his Position on the Litta tree is called into doubt by H.

IV , , n. XIII , , , p. Verga says that documents seen by him in the Archivio del Duomo indicate that Giampietro had no legitimate children. Verga's reconstructed tree looks like this: Milan and Novara , "pro annis 2, videlicet et ," nominated 12 November, , Milan. II, pars 1, col. Renier also suggests that this Gasparinus may be the son of Filippo Maria of Novara. Giammaria apparently made pacts with the Viceduca "per asciugare la palude Brebbia di 12 m. According to Litta Visconti, Tav. His son Prospero, "legittimato col fratello Paolo nel ," [loc.

XI] who died in The library was at some point later dispersed. XI He was an interestir. Lionel died in Alba just months afterthe wedding, at which Petrarch had been a guest of honor in June, In he was ambassador to the Council of Constance.

XI He died, presumably in the 's at a venerable age. Litta reproduces the monument to him in Sant'Eustorgio, Milan, between his Tav. Morigia, Historia del1 1antichitd di Milano, Venice, Reprinted, Bologna, , pp. He was son of Giambattista of the Fontaneto line. CQ Sassi in Argelati, I, 1, col. Eustorgio la sua orazione funebre. Kristeller has pointed out that the Dominican of the Castiglioni family is Gioacchino Castiglioni Marcanova, who died around the year This man wrote numerous funeral sermons; an article by T.

Verani "Notizie del P. Giovacchino Castiglioni Milanese dell'ordine de' PP. Verani's number 8 p. We have Duke Francesco Sforza to thank for the tremendous difficulty in defining his biography, for it was by ducal Order that he was renamed Gaspare Ambrogio -- and to our distress more often than not called simply Gaspare. Gaspar Ambrogio, then, was educated by Guidotto de' Prestinari of Bergamo, under whom he studied Greek, Latin and Hebrew,61 while at the same time devoting himself to music and vernacular poetry: Litta probably assumed the funeral oration for the elder Gaspare Visconti to be for the poet.

Paris and Leipzig, s. I have not seen this collection. Here once more, we would sustain the existence of a confusion between the poet and his father, who was also Consigliere'ducale and not, as Renier believed, a confusion between Galeazzo Maria and Giangaleazzo, sixth duke of Milan. The fact that the words "Galeazzo Sforza quinto Duca di Milano" occur twice, and in two repetitious but very distinct works by Morigia does not Support the theory of confusion in naming the ruler of the time; also Galeazzo Maria is more likely than Giangaleazzo to be called simply "Galeazzo.

Thus it is possible, in spite of the unlikelihood of the error, that there was a tradition of error in referring to these two dukes, perhaps dating from the late 16th and continuing into the 19th Century. The same error is not found in Corio's text itself. The documents cited by Verga in this case too require further examination. At seventeen the poet was created consigliere ducale on the day in in which the ducal vestments were conferred upon Giangeleazzo Sforza Sixth Duke of Milan, the unfortunate youth whose rule was to be usurped by his uncle Lodovico il Moro.

In this year too, the division of properties in Gaspare's family brought him the Signoria of Cassano Magnago in Seprio, a town still visible on the map to the north of Milan. Again the doubt appears to us unfounded given the customs of the times. For the properties, Litta, Visconti, Tav. Many of the holdings of this branch of the family are not locatable on present-day maps nor even on historical maps of fifteenth Century Lombardy, and are not listed in such works as Carlo Maranelli's D izionario geografico dell'Alto Adige, del Trentino, della Venezia Giulia, e della Dalmazia, Bari, , or the Enciclopedia Italiana.

At this point the poet, apparently taking advantage of his newfound Status, purchased a very young Ethiopian slave, Dionisio, signing an unusually detailed document on account of the age of the slave four years and the uncoramonness of slavery in Milan. His rights to the inheritance were however contested by his two cousins, also nephews of Giampietro, Giovanni and Filippo. The contests occurred over the period before a judge Battista Visconti, and were not finally settled until Innocent VIII intervened in on behalf of Gaspare Ambrogio.

Verga, ASL , S and , n. See too the document of purchase there appended, pp. The only likely Battista of the time is the one in Litta, Visconti, Tav. So for example, many notices in the exhaustive study by LSon-G. Taccone, Coronatione e sponsalitio de la serenissima Regina M. Augusta al Illustrissimo S. Santoro , p. Registro ducale 92, c. Unless this is a reappointment of Gaspar Ambrogio, this probably refers to the cousin of the poet, for we have seen the poet's father appointed in and the poet in Litta.

Thus, if this does refer to the cousin, he too could have been referred to as "Senator" and have made the journey to Austria. Tantius Corniger in Milan on "IV. Martias" February 26 "quamquam invito Domino," but nonetheless dedicated to Niccolo da Correggio. Fourteen ninety-four brought a new edition of the Italian poetic works of Petrarch, printed by Scinzenzeler in Milan, and with a letter by Corniger credit- ing himself and Gaspare Visconti with the correction and editing of the works, and with rescuing them from the state 71 into which they had fallen.

In , Filippo Mantegatio published Visconti's poem in ottava rima, De Paolo e Daria Amanti, a work rieh in social and cultural documentation, and one which has long been known to art historians by G. II, pars 1, cols. This is Hain-Copinger-Reichling, Milano, Ulderico Scinzenzeler, U I , Brussels, , No. Polain includes that part of-Corniger's letter which mentions G. Graesse, Trdsor de livres rares et prScieux, Geneva, London, Paris, , V, also mentions Viscontirs role, but evaluates the edition: Gaspare's poems in general are mines of information on customs and objects of the time: In spite of this, the multi-volume Storia di Milano of recent years has him marching out to meet Louis XII at Binasco to escort the king in triumph to Milan on October 5 of the same year -- but one instance of the confusion resulting from the poet's numerous namesakes.

This man was killed at 72Sassi, col. On the MS, Kupferstichkabinett Biadene, "I manoscritti italiani della collezione Hamilton nel R. Museo e nella R. Biblioteca di Berlino," G. I thank Professor P. Kristeller for the references to these catalogues. Gaspar" -- a small error, but in this case a crucial one. His father Giacomo is mentioned in the Annali di Alessandria by Girolamo Ghilini as one of the four gentilhuomini from the quartiere of Marengo present at the ceremonial planting of trees to innaugurate the beautifi- 7 8 cation of Alessandria in The first notice we have of the poet himself is from when the memory of Cicco Simonetta was being vindicated.

VIII , Anno , entry no. It will be remembered too that Gaspare Visconti married Cicco's daughter. By Taccone was Ducal Chancellor, as evidenced by the title of his commemorative poem on the wedding of Bianca Maria Sforza to the Emperor Maximilian. His activity in government even prior to that is attested to by two letters to Johannes Tolentinus "decurione e senatore": Junias, from Beresguardo, a port for the ducal flotilla on the Ticino and not on the Po, as 79 Alessandro Spinelli, introduction to his edition of B.

Spinelli promised here and in his article, "Di un codice milanese," AS L , 14 , p. Our own fairly brief searches for archival documents were only partially successful and must be continued at a later dato. IVhether this is a belated notice of Baldassare's appointment or not is unclear. Santoro States that the date is missing on the act itself, but appears on the letter of nomination. Taccone is elsewhere sometimes mistakenly referred to as Alessandro Malaguzzi-Valeri, IV, , undoubtedly through confusion with his birthplace, Alessandria. It was during this relatively stable period in the court of Milan that the few literary works for which we know Taccone were composed.

Bariola in his introduction to Taccone's Atteone advances the opinion that this political allegory was composed and presented between and , and probably 84 before. Besides possibly indicating an early date 8 2 The letters are cited by Argelati, Bibliotheca, Tom. II pars 2, col. I registri delle lettere ducali del periodo sforzesco, ed. Baldassare, like members of Gaspare Visconti's family, was politically resilient. Nor was he always liked for what may almost be called his sycophancy, as we see from poems to him or about him scattered in the manus- cript miscellany of the time. There are for example the satirical poems in Pavese and other Lombard dialects by Lancino Curti slurring Taccone's poetry and his name.

The language is obscure, even to modern Lombards, but the tone of the poems comes through, and it is stronger than that of 85 friendly jest. The latter date he bases on the fact that textual references are to Duke Gian Galeazzo alone, and not to his wife Isabella of Aragon whom he wed in This work is not treated in the present study. In it for example Taccone praises the now lost equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza by Leonardo da Vinci. The De Coronatione is valuable too for the detail of its descrip- tion of the imperial wedding in , which corroborates the account of Tristano Calco, official historian of the event, and the letter from Beatrice d'Este Sforza to her sister, 8 6 Isabella Gonzaga, transcribed for us by Luzio-Renier.

Gaspare Visconti too appears in the poem as Taccone's patron verse 79 , so clearly Taccone did find favor with some of the courtiers. Apart from miscellaneous undated poems in manuscript some datable however to the trip to Rome , the last dated literary Works we have are the "monosillaba nonnulla 87 ad Nie. I have not seen these lines. Nothing eise is available for this first period of French dominion , and whether he remained in Milan is unclear.

He does appear again however in the restored Massimiliano Sforza's brief 89 government as cancelliere del senato. The next pieces of biographical evidence are conflieting, though perhaps at the same time revealing as to his activi- ties in the early sixteenth Century. On January 28, , "Balthasar Tachonus Nobilis [and in the same document below, "Notarius" et Cancellarius in Capitaneatu Justitiae Medio- lani" draws up an act restricting the carrying of arms in Milan. The document is transcribed ln M. Formentini, Il ducato di Milano, Milan, , ; and cf. The need for such restriction is illustrated by a passage in the Commentarii di M.

Interestingly enough, however, Spinelli reports for the same year, , "due lettere importanti a lui dirette da Girolamo Morone" -- later the Gran Cancelliere to the last Sforza duke, Francesco II. From the year we have two docu- raents of compravendita in the Archivio di Stato, Milan, by which Taccone purchased land from certain "fratelli Bovati" - a further sign that he was in good Standing with the pre- 92 v a i l m g powers.

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It becomes clear, then, that Taccone was active politically, and in all probability while serving the French- run government, he worked toward the Sforza restoration which was to occur after his death, briefly in and again from to Con privilegio del senato Veneto per Anni X. Erano ancora ogni di confortati a questo dalle predicationi di Frate Andrea da Ferrara dell'ordine di S. Ricordi inediti di Gerolamo Morone Gran cancelliere dell'ultimo duca di Milano sul decennio dal al Whether he was buried immediately in the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, under French rule, or whether his remains were transferred there after the restoration of the Sforza duke the next year is unknown.

Whichever was the case, his memory is commemorated on not one, but two stones in Bramante's 94 Canonica of the church. It is assumed that he composed the epitaphs himself, both from their wording and from the fact that the date on the larger of the two is , not when he actually died.


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Baldesar de Thaconibus an. LX ex diaria epatica post febrem sine pestis suspictione judicio Mag. The larger is a rectangu- lar marble lapide in the angle formed by the north wall of the basilica and the west wall of the new wing. This bears the inscription which appears altered in Argelati, T. II, pars 2, cols. The second stone, probably a grave marker but now also mounted in the wall under the portico near the door into the sacristy, having been discovered in the excavations in the canonica in , is carved in the shape of a cushion with tassels at the Corners, and indented toward its lower edge as if a head had lain upon it.

It Teads and Forcella records correctly, no. Taccone's descendants are listed in the archives as notaries, and documents drawn up by them exist there. Thus while Baldassare may not have been an able follower of his muse, he was faithful to her even in the naming of his children. The phenomenon of these little vernacular pastoral- mythological favole we are discussing was largely a Northern one. Not that there were no other plays based on the form of the sacre rappresentazioni: Palladius in honor of Janus Corycius.

VIII Norimbergae, , p. Graesse, Trgsor de livres rares et prgcieux ou Nouveau dictionnaire bibliographique, V Dresden, , p. The extent to which this is true is brought out by the fact that the one Tuscan concerned with the plays here discussed apart from Leonardo as set designer for the Danae and Baccio Ugolini as principal in the Orfeo was at the court of Mantua when he composed his Orfeo, and that he was then subject to the taste of the area.

Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga who was the host of the event is known to have favored such pastoral-mythological representa- tions in vernacular as Cardinal-legate to Bologna, and to have decorated his villa in Rome with themes from classical mythology and adorned it with orti conclusi.

Perhaps largely because their most famous author, as well as their linguistic character, was Tuscan, this Emilian- Lombard quality of the plays has not been emphasized. And certainly it is also true that the impetus for the virtual rash of these plays in the North at the end of the ISth Century came from the famed Florentine's Orfeo, for in all of the successive vernacular favole we are considering, there9 7 6 96 A. Pirrotta, Li due Orfei, and note 29 to Chapter I.

The Cardinal had also sponsored such feste in Latin in Rome in the early s, as had other members of the ecclesiastic nobility Pirrotta, This point too is worthy of emphasis. While the character of these plays is very similar, one cannot easily group them on the basis of form. Five are divided into five acts; the Orfeo has no divisions of scene or act. But they are nonetheless united by characteristics like language largely normalized to Tuscan , presence of music, poetic meter, pastoral-mythological theme and setting, and being directed to aristocratic tastes.

How did these tastes spread? Apart from the well- 98 known contacts among the northern rulers and their courts, was there any opportunity for direct communication among our authors themselves, and more importantly, between the imita- tors. Recent collec- tions of documents such as that edited by P. There were, however,two possible opportunities for contact: We have no records as yet of a meeting between our other poets and Politian in Mantua. The possibility of contact, direct or indirect, there and on Politian's other stops on his trip is somewhat strengthened however by the knowledge of his patronage by or friendship with the Borromei family.

Carlo Borromei had befriended Politian in Florence where both lived, and on the journey North in Politian stopped at cities where the Borromei had residences: Giovanni Borromei, who was active as an ambassador between Milan and Mantua, was present in Mantua at Carnival time, , when the Orfeo was probably presented. And we know of the patronage of Milanese poets 99 by the Northern branch of the family.

Certainly the taste for such performances could have been communicated by Giovanni to others of the Milanese nobility. Tedeschi's correspondence with Cav. Tordi, who owned one of the B. Politian's other ties to Milan consist of his trying to obtain permission for a trip there to see certain manuscripts, and the famed polemic with the Alessandrian humanist Giorgio Merula who bitterly criticized Politian's Miscellanea, The only trips to Rome by all our poets which could have coincided are those in Autumn, to do homage to pope Alexander VI, the new Borgia pope.

The arrivals were not close together, but there is just a slight Chance that the Milanese contingent stayed on into December. Gabotto, "Una relazione sconosciuta fra Poliziano e la corte di Milano," La letteratura, II ; also published separately, Turin, Maximum by the jurist Giasone del Maino of Milan, a member of the contingent, delivered in Rome on the fifth of December, One other indirect means of contact between Correggio and Politian might have been their respective friendships with Pandolfo Collenuccio.

Although there are no poems or letters that we know of between Politian and any of the three Northern poets, the most arguable meeting point is that of the emula- tion by the Northerners of the humanist poet's work. Let us then situate the emulated work, La favola d'Orfeo, more precisely in its epoch, and in the thought of its time. Spinelli, "Di un codice milanese," ASL, 14 , Professor Kristeller has kindly brought to my attention a monograph by F.

Giason del Maino e gli scandali universitari nel Quattrocento. Gabotto discusses the oration in honor of' Pope Alexander VI on pp. For example, there has been much written on the dating of the Orfeo since , when Saverio Bettinelli first discussed the subject. Speculation has ranged from or , when Politian was only seventeen or eighteen years old, to , when he was an already erudite young man of twenty-five or -six. Isidoro Del Lungo, Florentia, uomini e cose del Quattrocento. Firenze, , ppl ff.

Saverio Bettinelli, Discorsi delle lettere e delle arti mantovane e modenesi. Mantua, , I have been unable to see this edition, cited in Affd [below], p. In a later ecition of Bettinelli's Discorso Primo Opere edite e inedite in prosa, ed in versi dell'abbate S.

Bella et Bestia - Fabula Aeterna (Beauty and the Beast - CLASSICAL LATIN)

The question can be resolved by referring to Bettinelli's source, which I have not seen. D'Ancona, II, , n. Picotti, Ricerche umanistiche, Florence, , pp. But published earlier as "Sulla data dell1Orfeo e delle Stanze di A. XVIl-XVllt , pp. Picotti, Ricerche, 91, n. On Baccio Ugolini, Ibidem, pp. Della Torre, Storia dell1Accademia p l a t o m c a , Firenze, , ff.

Dates proposed have ranged from late January to engagement ceremonies in June. Most were considered by Picotti, who himself finally accepted the date of the dual engagements in June of Clara Gonzaga to Gilbert de Montpensier. Tedeschi's dates, though early, fall well within the unpropitious Lenten period of the year But the eve of this period of at least moderate penance and fasting is Shrove Tuesday. Both authors picked up the hypothesis discarded by Picotti postulating the occasion of the banquet offered in Mantua by Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga on the last day of Carnival, Tuesday, February 15, Besides relating the type of theatrical q representation to banquets, as he does elsewhere, Pirrotta argues from the evidence of a stage note -- "Orfeo, cantando sopra il monte in su la lira e' seguenti versi latini.

Pirrotta, Li due Orfei, Torino, , 17 and n. Vitalini, "A proposito della datazione dell'Orfeo del Poliziano," G. Professor Pirrott important book approaches the favole pastorali from the music ological point of view, one most often overlooked by literary historians, some of whom nonetheless allude to the "musicalit of Politian's verses. D'Amico, Storia del teatro drammatico. It should be noted. Vitalini, departing mainly from the literature on the dating of the Orfeo, rather than from internal evidence of performance and occasion as does Pirrotta, cites especially Emma Tedeschi's break with Picotti's engagement-ceremony theory, and objects systematically to Ida Ma'ier's reespousal of the June theory in the face of Tedeschi's suggestions.

In spite of her own arguments, however, Vitalini still does not see the Orpheus myth itself as appropriate to carnival. Yet, along with his natural affinity for the myth, it is surely this occasion which decides Politian on his subject. Quite plainly, it is not merely the super- ficially "carnivalesque" elements of the play -- the sung pastoral scenes, the spectacular descent to the Inferno, the final bacchanale -- which are appropriate to the season.

It is the Orpheus myth itself. This myth is a tale of wordly loss, of Orpheus' loss of his love in this world, and finally of the Poet and Musician's loss of his own life at the hands of the Maenads in a moment of heightened revelry. Difficulties in interpreting Politian's Orfeo would seem fairly to melt away in this newly reconstructed setting.

J It is certain that he made the connection between Dionysus and Orpheus precisely through the latter's destruction at the hands of the Bacchants, or followers of Dionysus whence the final bacchanale, which for Vitalini "con la trama del mito narrato non ha niente che vedere" [op. Throughout the merry-making of Mardi Gras is an undercurrent of death -- albeit the temporary death -- both of worldly pleasures and, at the end of Lent, of Christ, whose resemblance to the martyred figure of Orpheus is, incidentally, the basis for the marked presence of Orpheus 13 in early Christian iconography.

So too, the ambiguous form of the play, emphasized in all histories of early Italian theater -- the secular myth secular in Christian terms presented partially in the religious "garb" of a sacra rappresentazione -- becomes under- standable in'the context of Carnival, which, however per- meated with the secular, is basically a religious festival. Here again we must not insist too strongly on the signifi- cance of religion for the occasion; but at the same time we must take the occasion into account as we view the play as a whole. The resemblance of the remainder of the play to an eclogue, or more especially to an intermezzo.

Perhaps it was indeed an intermezzo, an entre-mets. Carnival was a time for banquets, and as we have seen chapter I it is precisely at a banquet given by the Cardinal Gonzaga that Pirrotta tenta- 14 tively situates this first performance of the Orfeo. Pirrotta, Li due Orfei, p.

Eiwert, Verstficazione italiana dalle ori- gini ai giorni nostri. Unpublished Harvard dissertation, Cambridge, Mass. Thus the elements ot song, dance, and carnival are United in the form of these final lively Verses of the Orfeo. For a more detailed discussion of the metrics of this song, see below, Chapter 3. As for choosing between the February and June dates, Fiorato leaves "aux biographes de Politien le soin de trancher. On page of the same article the author calls Baccio Ugolini "Ugo Bracciolini. It seems likely as well that such celebrations would have been planned well in advance, and authors of plays or intermezzi given ample notice.

In favor of the Carnival hypothesis are the arguments exposed above regarding the appropriateness in theme and form of the fabula and of its final bacchanale. For the question of Baccio's whereabouts, one must consult both: Busta ; and Picotti, Ricerche, p. Both the citations and the letters bear further investigation. And of course the "continui tumulti" of which the author complains in his letter to Carlo Canale the caveat prefacing the play in the early editions and certain of the manuscripts would not have been lacking at Carnival time in Mantua of Two centuries of research and theorizing thus culminate in this eminently plausible thesis offered by scholars from two separate fields.

Having established a reasonable chronology for the composition and performance of Politian's Orfeo, let us turn now to an examination of its theme. Whereas the vehicle, the pastoral favola, may seem frivolous, even trivial in itself -- of interest only in historical terms, as a direct predecessor of opera -- the theme cannot be dismissed so lightly. This seemingly eternal myth, with parallels in 20 other, widely differing cultures and with applications in Western art and culture continuing from ancient times on into our present-day world, 21 contains elements which strike chords in the minds of people of widely varying times.

Ribezzo, Saggio di mitologia comparata. La discesa di Orfeo all'inferno e la liberazione dl Euridice, Fonti protoarie del mito L6vi-Strauss, Du miel aux cendres, Paris, , p. It can only correspond to our deepest wisb in the face of the knowledge of death: This overcoming, in the myth, would be accoraplished through art, through Orpheus' song. And for the cultivated rainds of the Renaissance the significance of this particular legend to their intellectual and artistic strivings was unavoidably apparent.

The theme spoke on its many levels to the humanists, to the poets,musicians, painters, and to the patrons of the arts, even as it had from ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages, undergoing transformations according to the dominant currents of thought in the ages through which it passed, bending with the prevailing doctrine or literary fashion, and enduring as much because 22 of its flexibility as because of its universality. Tracing briefly the fortune of Orpheus in the frame- work of Italian literature alone, one can begin with Dante, who in the Commedia places Orpheus in Limbo, in the Company of illustrious classical figures known to him, including Orpheus' fellow musician, Linus: For the myth's fortune in the Italian Renaissance, see A.

I would add only one citation: The Orpheus myth is used in a simile to illustrate the meaning of the allegorical sense: Boethius, one of Dante's favorite authors, had used the Orpheus myth in the fifth Century A. Vos haec fabula respicit Quicumque in superum diem Mentem ducere quaeritis.

Nam qui Tartareum in specus 23 D. Vandelli, Milan, , p. In the Canzoniere, Orpheus appears first simply as a Superlative poet, worthy, as would be Homer or Vergil, of recounting the acts of his Laura: Giunto Alessandro a la famosa tomba Del fero Achille, sospirando disse: Che d'Omero degnissima e d'Orfeo 0 del pastor ch'ancor Mantova onora Ch'andassen sempre lei sola cantando, Stella difforme e fato sol qui reo Commise a tal che '1 suo bei nome adora Ma forse scema sue lode parlando. Tester, London and Cambridge, Mass.

Loeb Classical Library , Petrarca, II Canzoniere, note di N. I prefer his reading of line 9 to that of Carducci, "Ch6. Que cum ita sint, non tantum locus pestifer relinquendus, sed quicquid in preteritas curas animum retorquet, summa tibi diligentia fugiendum est; ne forte cum Orpheo ab inferis rediens retroque respiciens recuperatam perdas Euridicem. It is worthy of note that Petrarch has here chosen to follow the romance tradition of a happy ending, like that of the English Sir Orfeo, ca. This ending, or a Variation of the happy ending, occurs as early as the eleventh Century in the medieval "exercise poems" -- composed as practice in rhetorical figures -- of Thierry of St.

Trond, Godefroy of Reims, etc. The accompanying translation reads: Kas it Revised -- and Khy? Augustine is here teaching Petrarch the path to his soul's peace through renunciation; should he, while following this path, look back to the depths of Hell, he will lose his newfound ability to renounce his earthly love. Assuming a willfull looking back, he would thus renounce renunciation. Boccaccio dwells at some length on the Orpheus myth in 29 his Genealogia Deorum Gentilium. He relates several versions of the tale, followed, as is his custom in this work, by various, primarily moral, interpretations -- his own and those of late Latin and Greek authors.

His Genealogia was of the utmost importance as a mythological handbook and as a source for myths in the Renaissance, and we shall have occasion to2 9 29 G. Boccaccio, Genealogie Deorum Gentilium Libri, ed. Romano, two volumes, B a n , Antonio Bertano and the earlier edition of -- is significant for its very existence. Perhaps it is not irrelevant that this translation was made in the North of Italy, for as is exemplified by the plays here studied, in the Northern courts absorption of the riches of humanist scholarship was often through vernacular versions of Latin works, suitable to the tastes and needs of the nobility.

On the Genealogia's treatment of Orpheus, see Friedman, op. And on this genre of handbook, A. Here the figures of Orpheus and Eurydice retain an allegorical significance, but it is not that of the Christian allegories of the Middle Ages. To Salutati, Orpheus represents, through his association with music, the Epicurean whose search for truth is by the senses and not by reason: Dicitur enim Orpheus, ut vult Fulgentius fMitologiae III, x] quasi 'Orpheaphone', id est 'optima vox', volens ipsum figuram musice, sicut dicimus, obtinere. Verum si musicum significat, ut iste vult, quid convenientius nobis Epycurium dogma dicit, quandoquidem ipsum in rationem summi boni disputet vol- uptatem et inter honestas delectationes nichil voluptuosius concentu musico et quod Philosophie congruit maiestati nichil honestius?

N6 altro vollono dire e' poeti che Orfeo potessi [sic. This "other" Orpheus was the figure central to the "Orphic movement,". He was supposed to have written the corpus of Orphica, including the Argonautica and the Hymni which Marsilio Fidino translated from Greek to Latin before Cited from F. He uses the text of R. Another, orthographically quite different, Version is cited by Buck, op.

This is the text as it appears in Miscellanea di cose inedite e rare, ed. Corazzini, Florence' , p. Orazione quando comincio a leggere in Studio i sonetti di M. Kristeller, Supplementum Ficinianum, two vols. I am indebted to Professor Kristeller for these, and other essential referenees on Ficino's Orpheus. Trask, New York , p.

Saepe graves pellit docta testudine curas Et vocem argutis suggerit articulis, Qualis Apollinei modulator carminis Orpheus Dicitur Odrysias allicuisse feras. Marmaricos posset cantu mulcere leones Quasque niger tigres semper Amanus habet. Harper Torchbooks, , Hoc enim seculum tanquam aureum liberalis disciplinas fermj iam extinctas reduxit in lucem, grammaticam, poesim, oratoriam, picturam, sculpturam, architecturam, nusicam, antiquum ad Orphicam Lyram carminum cantum. Carmen ad Fontium, This Orpheus, because it describes Ficino's Orphic singing which falls in the mystical-philosophical tradition of Orphism in terms of the mythical Orpheus and his power of song, tends to unite the two distinct -- yet through the ages closely entwined -- Strands of philosophy and myth connected with Orpheus.

Politian, however, being more drawn to literature 37 than to philosophy in his life's work, uses Orpheus in essentially the literary way we have been following, even in his Latin works, where, however, the figure of Orpheus 3 8 takes on more weighty meaning than in the favola. II, , is attributed to Politian by"J. Juhdsz in their edition of B. Fontius, Carmina, Leipzig, Fiigel and Juhdsz are aware of the break, but do not date it; cf. Certainly, Politian was fond of referring to and playing on the concept of the musical voices, gravis and acutus, as is done in this passage.

See for example Nutricia, It is tempting as Garin says to s'ee a similar difference in Politian's works. Opera, Basel, 15S3, p. Kristeller, Supplementum, II, Two words of this passage are especially noteworthy. Compare for example, in Friedman, op. In the former, Orpheus carries the lyre, in the latter a lute, or viol. Salutati, De Laboribus, cit. Of course, it is not sharply Haec pueri pietas grata fuisse nimis. To this explicit reference to Orpheus. Nor is it even here, with the exception of the Argonautic Orpheus is added a Vergilian epithet: As if Orpheus is here pius Orpheus, and thereby endowed with the announcing the very importance of the figure of Orpheus to very virtues of Vergil's pius Aeneas -- reverence for the his life and work, Politian opens the Manto and thus all gods, loyalty to his people and fatherland, faithfulness to four Sylvae with Orpheus' song.

The Argonauts about his father. Certainly there is a relationship in Politian's whose voyage in the Argus Ficino's auctoritas "Orpheus" mind between the figures of Orpheus and Aeneas just as was supposed to have written are gathered on shore, waiting there was in Salutati's when he described both figures' for a wind. They are hosted by Chiron, the Centaur and descents to Hades. Later in the Manto we see Politian Achilles' tutor, at his cave, where they have a rustic meal.

Hauserit, infernas etiam descendet ad umbras, Conticuere viri, tenuere silentia venti; 0 pietas! Vosque retro cursum mox tenuistis, aquae: I Decurrunt scopulis auritae ad carmina quercus, Early in the body of the Manto text, Politian assumes Nudaque peliacus culmina motat apex. Et jam materno permulserat omnia cantu, a rhetorical pose, evoking again the Orpheus of the Argonauts Cum tacuit, querulam deposuitque fidem. Occupat hanc audax, digitosque affringit Achilles, Indoctumque rudi personat ore puer.

Del Lungo, Florence, hereatter "Prose " , Buck, Der Orpheus-Mythos in der italienischen 53, and below, pp. Renaissance, Krefeld, , p. Manto, 5 The subsequent reference to Orpheus in the Manto, which was written as an introduction to a course given in by Politian on Vergil's bucolic poetry, is strictly related to Vergil's Fourth Eclogue.

Manto, the mother of the founder of Mantua, Ocnus, is speaking. Manto, 43 43 Prose, p. For Affected Modesty and related topoi, of which this is an example, cf. Fairclough, London, , p. Among other passages, we can compare The same sort of device can be seen in Politian's 1. There are other instances as well. But Orpheus himself was of but passing interest in this passage, and we will move on to the Nutricia, Argumentum de poetica et poetis , written four years later in , and containing some of the most mature and formed thought of Politian, as well as further explicit references to Orpheus.

While the reference, for the most part, is still to the powers of Orpheus' song, the context in which his name is evoked is far more complex than those previously cited in Politian's works: An vero ille ferox, ille implacatus et audax Viribus, ille gravi prosternens cuncta lacerto, Trux vitae, praeceps animae, submitteret aequo Colla jugo aut duris pareret sponte lupatis, Ni prius indocilem sensum facundia victrix Vimque reluctantem irarum flatusque rebelles Carmine mollisset blando, pronisque sequentem Auribus ad pulchri speciem duxisset honesti?

Quippe etiam stantes dulci leo carmine captus Submittit cervice jubas, roseamque dracones Erecti tendunt cristam et sua sibila ponunt; Ille quoque umbrarum custos, ille horror Averni, Cerberus, audita getici testudine vatis, Latratum posuit triplicem, tria sustulit hiscens Ora, novo stupidus cantu qui flexerat atram Tisiphonen, saevo lachrymas conciverat Orco: Ipsum fama Jovem, cum jam cyclopea magna Tela manu quatit insurgens tonitruque coruscat Horrisono et caecis miscet cava nubila flammis, Ut tarnen increpuit nervis et pectine pulcher Delius alternumque piae cecinere sorores, Placari totumque sua diffundere mundum Laeticia et subito coelum instaurare sereno.

Nutricia, 46 46 Prose, He has described man's savage state, without mores or laws, marriage or property And now Politian puts forth that man's untaught sense, his ire and his arrogance were then softened by eloquence and alluring song and he was led to the Vision of beauteous virtue , above. There follow further examples of the power of song, capable of subduing the lion and the dragon Interestingly the two works were composed at the same time.

Politian's was the introduction to a course given at the Studio Fiorentino in on poetry and poets in history. Maier, Ange Politien, cit. Thus the two friends were contemplating man's original state at the same time, undoubtedly with each other's knowledge, and were quite likely even discussing their ideas. His answer is Free Will. God explains this in addressing his new son, Adam: Tu, nullis angustiis coercitus, pro tuo arbitrio, in cuius manu te posui, tibi illam prae- finies.

Medium te mundi posui, ut circum- spiceres inde commodius quicquid est in mundo. Nec te caelestem neque terrenum, neque mortalem neque immortalem fecimus, ut tui ipsius quasi arbitrarius honorariusque plastes et fictor, in quam malueris tute formam effingas. Poteris in inferiora quae sunt bruta degen- erare; poteris in superiora quae sunt divina ex tui animi sententia regenerari.

But is this certain? Whereas the Nutricia was first published on 26 May by A. Miscomini in Florence Cf. Ma'ier, Ange Politien, cit. An English translation by E. Forbes appears in The Renaissance Philosophy of Man, cit. I 73 Garin sees an exact correspondence between Politian's Orpheus in the passage quoted above from the Nutricia and Pico's Adam in this passage. He says and here it will be well to quote in full the passage under consideration, to make the context of his Statement clear, and for reference in the discussion below: All'Adamo pichiano corrisponde esattamente l'Orfeo polizianesco.

Thus Garin can draw the conclusion that the two figures fill the same role, albeit, as he says, in the context of two very different approaches: Garin brings out another element of Politian's scheme which contributes to the rela- tionship between Orpheus and Adam: Thus Garin sees Politian's Poet as construc- tor, formulator of man's world, and Poetry as the Creative synthesis which dominates even the sacred heavenly realms. All of this serves to enhance for us the depth of Politian's passage, indeed to illuminate it. Yet is it not perhaps too beautiful to be able to say that Adam and Orpheus correspond exactly to one another?

Orpheus, in my reading of Politian's passage, is rather but one of two exempla of those who have used song to overcome obstacles. If we allow his identification with the Poet, we must also allow it for the second exemplum, Apollo.

The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness

But Orpheus himself is not here depicted, really, as the constructor or civilizer of man. He is instead cast in his usual role as the subduer of Hades by his song. Orpheus, by means of his seng, can cause or at least attempt to cause only a positive outcome: Thus even metaphorically he could only and only if we extrapolate quite far from the text represent by association the advantages to man of civilization by Poetry or Song.

Pico's Adam, on the other hand, is given the terrible onus of free will: As the Creator's gift of Poetry stimulates Politian's early mankind to crystallize his humanity and to civilize himself cf. A later allusion to Orpheus in the Nutricia bears witness to the intimate linking of poetry and song which is fundamental to Politian's thought, and fundamental to the Orpheus legend as well.

In the early portions of the Nutricia, poetry Poetica is almost interchangeable with song Carmina. Illius argutis etiara patuere querelis Tartara, terrificis illum villosa colubris Tergemini stupuere canis latrantia raonstra: Tum priraura et lachrymas, invita per ora cadentes Euraenidum, stygii conjunx mirata tyranni, Indulsit vati Eurydicen; sed muneris usum Perdidit: At juvenem postquam thressarum injuria matrum, Frustra suave melos frustra pia verba moventem, Dispersit totis lacerum furialiter agris, Cum lyra divulsum caput a cervice cruenta Heu medium veheret resonans lugubre per Hebrum, Relliquias animae jam deficientis amatam Movit in Eurydicen, tarnen illam frigidus unam Spiritus, illam unam moriens quoque lingua vocabat: Lesboum stupuit vulgus, cum flere natantes Sponte fides atque os domini vectare cruentum Vidit et heu lassis velut aspirare querelis.

Improbus hanc stulte chelyn affectare Neanthus Ausus, apollinea pendentem substulit aede; Quem tarnen, indocto ferientem pollice cordas, Vindice discerpsit rictu nocturna canum vis. Quin et, pellaei quondam presaga triumphi, Delicuit sudore sacro libethris imago.

Tantus honor getico fuit, et post funera vati! The selection and emphasis is quite different, however. Instead the emphasis is on music: The weight given song in the lines thus emphasizes further the close bond in Politian's thought between poetry and song. Just as we have seen Politian veer away from philoso- phy to literature and scholarship so too we can discern in his portrayal of music- a concern more with the practice of music and its effects than with concepts like that of the harmony of the spheres. Politian's music in the form of song as a civilizing agent is similar to Ficino's music as a healing agent: The practice of music, then, judging from the references to music in the Sylvae, the Miscellanea, and apparently in certain of Politian's letters, as well as from the amount of poetry he wrote for music, was of paramount importance to him.

The latter rather debunks the legend, and emphasizes altogether different things. This too, however, is primarily a nonphilosophical account of music theory, S8 drawing on the ancient sources and some more recent ones. Such analysis would present us with a clearer picture of Politian's musical knowledge and interest.

It is evident from the passages that his scholarship even in this area presaged modern work, for example on distinguishing between the two instruments the Nabla, or Naulia a sort of harp and the Nablo, or Nab1um Ca psalter , a question which he approaches Tn Miscellanea, I, xiv, according to Bonaventura.

See especially Chapter 1, pp. Accounts of his death, too, indicate the importance of music to him. Bridgman La Vie musicale au Quattrocento. Politian does of course mention the principle. Maier, Ange Politien, , and Aristoxenus. Tinctoris espoused this approach and incidentally also cited Ptolemy in his treatises of the s, Proportionale musices and Liber de arte contrapuncti cf.

See a Problem?

New York, , pp. I 79 The next two explicit references tc Orpheus in the Nutricia are brief but of interest. Near the beginning of Politian's enumeration of the Greek and Latin epic poets, the ancient Thracian Orpheus is mentioned as model for the author of what we now know to be a late Argonautica fourth 59 Century, A.

Ecce alii primo tentatum remige pontum, Palladiamque ratem, tabulasque dedere loquaces: Quorum threicio personam primus ab Orpheo Accepit, genitus Miscelli gente salubri; Nutricia, 60 D. Walker has pointed out61 that "Renaissance scholars were aware that many of the Orphic poems must be of widely different dates; they knew, from the Suidas Lexicon, that several different authors had written under the nane of Orpheus. Thus there are three references common to Tinctoris and Politian: Ptolemy, Aristoxenus and Aristotle's Ethics.

Furthermore, Gaffurio's Theoricum opus armonice discipline [sic. IV, Milan, , p. In this context it would be of interest to compare Politian's Panepistemon passage to Tinctoris' and Gaffurio's works to see lf there are other points of contact. The whole question of Politian and music is one which requires further s tudy. Walker, "Orpheus the Theologian," cit. He identifies this Greek writer of Argonau- tica there are two mentioned, the second, in In Politian's mind, then, this poet, writing in the persona of the early Orpheus, was later than the Thracian Orpheus, but could nonetheless have been quite ancient.

Suidas, nunc primum integer latinitate donatus. Ion of Chios to have attributed some of his writings to Orpheus Nilsson, art. Walker says that the humanists knew the Suda. Politian's familiarity with other sources on the subject remains to be investigated. Emicat, hesperio, trifidum ceu fulmen, ab orbe Qui, vix puber adhuc rudibusque tenerrimus annis, Haemonios iterat currus auroque repensum Hectora; tartareasque domos; dirumque Neronem; Orpheaque;.

Thus it would fall into the category of public spectacle. Other works composed for public spectacles -- theatri- cal works -- are discussed in the Nutricia as well, for Politian's interest in theater did not end, and probably did not begin, with the Orfeo in , although it is the first item in a list of evidence for such interest. The second item is a passage in Politian's unedited Introduction to a course on Statius' Sylvae, given in , Politian's first year of teaching at the Studio Fiorentino after his return from Mantua.

According to one editor of Politian's notes, the passage contains a sketch of the history of theater which foreshadows Politian's treatmer. Lattanzi Roselli in her introduction to A. Poliziano, La commedia antica e l'"Andria" di Terenzio, Florence, , p. According to Lattanzi Roselli, it appears in MS. Also cited are passages from the Miscellanea I, 63; II, 40, 41, Lattanzi Roselli, Introduction, op.

Sabbadini II metodo degli umanisti, Florence, , pp. Khereas the work was alluded to by Salutati ca. He goes on to say pp. Ma le sue due prelezioni omeriche, sia la prosastica sia la poetica Ambra del [sic. Il Poliziano pertanto venne molto tardi in possesso di quel testo. However, if it is the case that Politian refers not at all to Aristotle's Poetics in a work of in which he would presumably have had occasion to eite the Poetics, then we must reconsider Lattanzi Roselli's dating of for the Preface to Terence's Andria, where Politian virtually translates long passages from the Poetics.

If, in other words, Politian did not know the Greek text in and this remains to be studied then he clearly could not have written a treatise making heavy use of it in In the orderly way in which he approaches musical theory in the Panepistemon -- obviously geared to pedagogy -- Politian here sets forth the major divisions of a particular facet of his subject, then deals with each, one by one.

The major arguments of the treatise can be broken down as follows: Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy. Second Edition, revised by T. Henceforth Pickard-Cambridge -- Webster. Epps, Chapel Hill, N. The Latin concentus used by Politian can also mean a concordant acclamation of people in a theater C. Short, A Latin Dictionary, Oxford, , s. Politian devotes a long passage It is divided into types of drama, from Greek tragedy and comedy through Latin tragedy and comedy to mime, with representative authors of each presented, often by means of biographical incidents taken from such sources as Valerius Maximus and Plutarch.

One point of interest, particularly relevant to a discussion of the Orfeo, is the initial emphasis on Bacchus' or Dionysus' role in the origins of tragedy: Multi, Bacche, tuo proculcavere cothurno Fortunas regum ambiguas, et sceptra tyrannis Extorsere feris, totumque tremore metuque Horribiles totum luctu opplevere theatrum. Nutricia, S5 '2 That there was a tradition connecting Dionysus with the origins of tragedy -- through dithyramb -- is known, and was apparently known to Politian, perhaps in part through the Suidas Lexicon's denial of the connection a denial which was something of a topos in ancient sources on the origins of 72Prose, In any event, Politian made the connection, both here and in his Andria preface, where he associates Dionysus with comedy as well.

The tone and even the verse scheme are imitated from Plautus. Yet there is an almost Terentian polemic in the text. Politian inveighs against Contemporary writers of Latin comedies in prose, as well as against frati who condemn the performance of classical theater. But the evidence for this all postdates the writing of the Orfeo. Perhaps 73Pickard-Cambridge -- Webster, pp.

Poliziano, La commedia antica, cit. But the Dionysus-dithyramb connection is assumed by such grammarians and lexicographers as Pollux and the author s of the Suda. These latter were Politian's sources in the Preface Pollux and in the Nutricia Suda , as we have seen. PTckard-Cambridge -- Webster, pp. See too the Italian translation, and especially the introduc- tion by A.

In terms of the development of the Orpheus figure in Politian's work, it may be well to regard the Orfeo as an intermediate Step away from Ficino's Orpheus and toward the use of the more complex image which is entirely his own. The Orpheus of the Orfeo is a composite of classical references, rather than a mature concept, and from this fact result all the ambiguities in the play which have bothered critics, and which in all likelihood did bother Politian to an extent.

Rather, therefore, than ask too much of this brief play, it will be well to regard it and its central character as marks of a turning point in his thought. Politian is here beginning to shape the Orpheus figure to his own needs -- away from the Neoplatonic philosopher-theologian Orpheus which held Ficino's interest, and toward the more literary and "historical" exemplum Orpheus which would characterize his own references to the figure.

The Orpheus myth, for all the reasons examined above, must have presented itself readily to the poet, but in a form that began a process of clarifi- cation of his own reading of the myth. Suggestions of the theme in other art forms were, moreover, by no means absent from the Mantua of There, in the Camera degli Sposi of the palace -- which was surely a showplace, then as now, and brought to the attention of any visitors -- were three small paintings of Orpheus. These lunettes had been painted just six years earlier by Mantegna and his assistants, above the remarkable family groups of the Gonzaga.

They depicted Orpheus playing his lyre, his descent to Hades, and his destruction at the hands of the Maenads. It is described in the title as an "adventure in the land of Nabokov" and is just that: In its style it reminded me more of W. Sebald than Rushdie or Pamuk, a rambling, outwardly purposeless tour that is deeply personal. Here we meet Nabokov the amateur or not butterfly hunter, the author of Lolita, the husband and sometimes the father.

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But it is as a muse that Nabokov fascinates Zanganeh. The book is not easy reading in the conventional sense, but in its rumination on the nature of a writer-muse it takes us to a place where fascination, coincidence, biography and critique live in a natural order not unlike the work of Nabokov. The book is big on the theme of happiness, and sometimes I found the message too heavy handed, but in a world where authors too often are expected to be more dark than light, more tormented than happy this is a refreshing look.

I finished the book with a feeling of having conversed with a talkative, happy friend who in telling me about this writer she is fascinated by - slowly made me happy too. May 11, Brent Legault rated it liked it. I found this book difficult to read. Not because it was difficult. Because of, I don't know, the tone? It was like watching someone do some sincere tap dancing en lieu of an elegy at a funeral.

Or like, playing hacky sack at in the waiting room before a big job interview. The dancer, the player, enjoys herself immensely, but the rest of us stand agape. Not that it matters, but I would have given this book a one-star review had Zanganeh not been so helpless I found this book difficult to read. Not that it matters, but I would have given this book a one-star review had Zanganeh not been so helplessly in love with the work of Nabokov. I don't often meet someone who loves his work as much as I do, and I was looking forward to a fine communion.

But her idea of "play" and my idea of "play" and ultimately, I think, Nabokov's idea of "play," didn't cohere. They just didn't cohere. Jan 28, Joelec rated it really liked it. I received an ARC copy of this book courtesy of W. I was planning to purchase the book when it was published, being an avid reader of Nabokov and even more so due to the fact that Dmitri along with several respectable authors Pamuk, Rushdie, etc Seeing that it was Zanganeh's first book, and that she was still quite young, I was slightly hesitant to put much hope in the final product.

However, when the book arrived I took my manila package to the local coffee shop and ordered my customary americano, withholding the thrilling pleasure of opening the envelope which I knew contained a new book months before anyone could see it, and that moment was just for me. The cover had a few butterflies on it, reminding one of Nabokov's love and great contributions to lepidopterology.

Seeing the classification as Literary Criticism, I was expecting the focus to be an interpretation of his works, but there is nothing about this book that is traditional in that sense. The book is a journey through both the life of Vladimir and the life of Zanganeh. It is reminiscent of a memoir inspired by literature. A personal philosophy about great art and the reasons we seek emotion and understanding from art. It takes the author and humanizes him, something that is frowned upon in academia, where merit is determined by the value of the text and the author should not influence this.

Despite my personal views on how criticism should be presented, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, although I think it is misclassified as Criticism and think it is more akin to a Creative Biography. I was often reminded throughout it by an essay written by Professor J. Rivers after he traveled to visit Nabokov shortly before his passing.

In it he speaks of the composed nature of the author, the side of perfectionism that considered every word, pondered every thought and action. Once during their interview, drinking cocktails and generally relaxing when the formal portion was over, Nabokov laughed at a comment and Rivers managed to take a photograph of him, clutching a tissue that wiped away tears of laughter. The picture seems to have caught Nabokov in between the composure of the author and the joy of the person, the perfection of the words vs. That is what Zanganeh accomplishes with The Enchanter: Nabokov and Happiness, she is able to show us two sides by adding a depth to both the life and the art.

It is a personal tale, and one which I encourage fans of Nabokov to go out and read despite the classification of the book, it is light reading and often times very beautiful. May 26, Annie rated it it was ok Shelves: It's a hearty intellectual feast that's somewhat difficult to digest and, surely, daunting to eat. And don't think the author doesn't know it As with most hubris folks, an indulgent delight is always derived from successful sophistication.

Every line is a verbose, complicated idea, meticulously molded into a phrase worthy of literary prize or a slap in the face--depending how you look at i This book is Every line is a verbose, complicated idea, meticulously molded into a phrase worthy of literary prize or a slap in the face--depending how you look at it. So don't try reading this before bed when your brain is tired, for instance The bottom line is Because, to me, flow is paramount. Flow is, arguably, more important than insanely complicated and intellect-ridden sentences.

And there are moments were flow falls by the wayside, due to dense wordery. You'll notice that I, too, have written a slightly more cumbersome review than usual. But, it was called for. Nabokov and Happiness at For Books' Sake. Feb 08, Mary Jenkins rated it really liked it. While some knowledge of Nabokov is helpful in understanding all the references, it is certainly not mandatory. Zanganeh's starting point is Nabokov, of course, but she extrapolates from his life and from his writing the happy-enducing particles that she can share.

This is not a dry treatise on a type of philosophical thought; this book scampers all around and through Nabokov's works and world, enchanting the reader and introducing him to a While some knowledge of Nabokov is helpful in understanding all the references, it is certainly not mandatory. This is not a dry treatise on a type of philosophical thought; this book scampers all around and through Nabokov's works and world, enchanting the reader and introducing him to a world of sheer bliss.

Jan 28, Jade rated it it was ok Shelves: I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads a little under a week ago. I finally finished reading it. It was a little difficult to get into. There are a lot of moments where you just don't understand what is going on and then the next minute you can't put the book down due to intrigue.

The jumping around is a little much. I love the idea, but the finished writing style just could not keep my attention for extended periods of time. Jan 21, Laura Fredericksen rated it liked it. I am inspired by this book to read more of Nabakov's work. After reading Lolita a few years ago I was left nonplussed, and am now looking forward to re-reading it and cracking open my copy of The Original of Laura. This book is a fairly quick and interesting read. At times I felt the author was trying a bit too hard with the language, but that did not take away from the generally pleasurable experience.

Jan 28, Anne rated it it was ok Shelves: I won this book from Goodreads Giveaways for free. It seemed like it would be a story but it read more like a textbook mixed with an interview. I haven't read any of Nabokov's books so it was hard to delve into the love she had for her beloved author. It read more like a besotted lover clinging to the hope that someday he would be hers. I didn't care for it.

This must be one of the most poetically written biographies in the world - the word "biography" does not describe it well, for it is an inspired creation, and captures the essence of Nabokov's writing more fully than any detailed account of his life can. Mar 29, Dina Rahajaharison rated it really liked it.

Suggerito a chi voglia conoscere Nabokov prima di accostarsi a qualche sua opera.