Perpetual Motion

Perpetual Motion : Transforming Shapes in the Renaissance from da Vinci to Montaigne

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The popular conception of the Renaissance as a culture devoted to order and perfection does not account for an important characteristic of Renaissance art: many of the period's major works, including those by da Vinci, Erasmus, Michelangelo, Ronsard, and Montaigne, appeared as works-in-progress, always liable to changes and additions. In Perpetual Motion, Michel Jeanneret argues for a sixteenth century swept up in change and fascinated by genesis and metamorphosis. Jeanneret begins by tracing the metamorphic sensibility in sixteenth-century science and culture. Theories of creation and cosmology, of biology and geology, profoundly affected the perspectives of leading thinkers and artists on the nature of matter and form. The conception of humanity (as understood by Pico de Mirandola, Erasmus, Rabelais, and others), reflections upon history, the theory and practice of language, all led to new ideas, new genres, and a new interest in the diversity of experience.
Jeanneret goes on to show that the invention of the printing press did not necessarily produce more stable literary texts than those transmitted orally or as hand-printed manuscripts-authors incorporated ideas of transformation into the process of composing and revising and encouraged creative interpretations from their readers, translators, and imitators. Extending the argument to the visual arts, Jeanneret considers da Vinci's sketches and paintings, changing depictions of the world map, the mythological sculptures in the gardens of Prince Orsini in Bomarzo, and many other Renaissance works. More than fifty illustrations supplement his analysis.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 26mm | 624g
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • 15 Line drawings, black and white; 43 Halftones, black and white
  • 0801864801
  • 9780801864803
  • 74,547

Table of contents

Contents: List of Illustrations Translator's Note Introduction Chapter 1: Universal Sway 1 Form and Force: Du Bartas 2 Natura naturans 3 Earth Changes: Leonardo da Vinci Chapter 2: Primeval Movement 4 Chaos 5 "Grotesques and Monstrosities" Chapter 3: Culture and Its Flow 6 "We Are Never in Ourselves" 7 The Hazards of Art: LeRoy 8 Language Inflexions Chapter 4: Works in Progress 9 On Site 10 Geneses Chapter 5: Creative Reading 11 Reshuffling the Cards 12 Works to Be Done Notes Bibliography Index
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Review quote

This ambitious, broadly integrative book argues persuasively for a late Renaissance whose art and literature were shaped by a widespread 'metamorphic sensibility'. -- Colin Dickson Sixteenth Century Journal [ Perpetual Motion], by Michel Jeanneret, is brilliant and the translation by Nidra Pollet doesn't sound like a translation (a great compliment). -- L. R. N. Ashley Bibliotheque d'Humanism et Renaissance Jeanneret's work offers both breadth of scope and depth of interpretation to scholars and students of the Renaissance who seek to understand the generating circumstances of humanist thought and of the art they created. -- Deborah N. Losse Modern Language Notes A brilliant exercise in cultural Geitsgeschichte by way of historically contextualized aesthetics. -- Francois Rigolot Sixteenth Century Journal
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About Michel Jeanneret

Michel Jeanneret is a professor of French literature at the University of Geneva. He is author of Poesie et tradition biblique au XVIe siecle, Des mets et des mots: Banquets et propos de table a la Renaissance, and Le Defi des signes: Rabelais et la crise de l'interpretation a la Renaissance.
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