The Fortunes of the Courtier

The Fortunes of the Courtier : European Reception of Castiglione's "Cortegiano"

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Castiglione's "Cortegiano", or "Book of the Courtier", first published in 1528, is one of the most famous texts of the Italian high Renaissance, with over a hundred editions printed in numerous languages. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it has generally been read as a text which represented the Renaissance. During the Renaissance itself, however, the book was read for very different reasons: it was a guide to contemporary conduct, not a guide to the values of a past age. This book aims to understand, if not to close, the gap between these two divergent readings of the "Courtier". It also attempts to use the rise, decline and transformation of interest in the "Courtier" in the first century after its publication as indicators of changing social values, and the regional variations in its reception as a means of exploring the unity and variety of the culture of Renaissance Europe. To achieve these aims, Burke begins with a discussion of the text itself, showing how, in successive editions, the dialogue was presented in different ways, partly in order to appeal to men and women who were insecure about their status.
Later chapters chart the history, geography and sociology of enthusiasm for the book, as well as the reactions against it, both official and unofficial. The book concludes with a discussion of the later fortune of the "Courtier" and its appeal to writers as different as Samuel Johnson and W.B. Yeats. Combining research with broad conclusions about the culture of early-modern Europe, this book should be a contribution to the history of the Renaissance. Peter Burke is the author of "Venice and Amsterdam" and "The Art of Conversation".
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Product details

  • Hardback | 160 pages
  • 152 x 229mm | 525g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 8 photographs, bibliography, index
  • 0745611508
  • 9780745611501

Table of contents

Tradition and reception; the "Courtier" in its time; the "Courtier" in Italy; the "Courtier" translated; the "Courtier" imitated; the "Courtier" criticized; the "Courtier" revived; the "Courtier" in European culture.
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9 ratings
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