Born in Tuscany in 1304, Italian poet Francesco Petrarca is widely considered one of the fathers of the modern Italian language. His writings inspired the Humanist movement and, subsequently, the Renaissance, but few figures are as complex or as misunderstood.
Christopher S. Celenza provides the first general account of Petrarch’s life and work in English in over thirty years, and considers how his reputation and identity have changed over the centuries. He brings to light Petrarch’s unrequited love for his poetic muse, Laura, the experiences of his university years, the anti-institutional attitude he developed as he sought a path to modernity by looking toward antiquity, and his endless focus on himself.
Drawing on both Petrarch’s Italian and Latin writings, this is a revealing portrait of a paradoxical figure: a man of mystique, historical importance and endless fascination.
Written by Christopher S. Celenza
Hardback: 216 × 138 mm., 264 pps.
27 illustrations, 24 in colour
Published by Reaktion Books, 2017.
Review: ‘[Petrarch] himself turned again and again in his writings to the flaws of humanity. Celenza exposes the Italian writer’s flaws throughout his book, while simultaneously eliciting pity and respect. If he’s a “misunderstood” man, then this book makes us want to understand him, contradictions and all.’ – Times Higher Education