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Title: Petrarch vs Gherardo : a case of sibling rivalry inside and outside the cloister
Author: Lokaj, R. J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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Abstract:
This thesis analyses the relationship between Petrarch and his brother, the Carthusian monk, Gherardo, as described in the De otio religioso and the Rerum familiarium libri. I take Petrarch and his brother as literary constructs representative, respectively, of early humanistic poetics and traditional asceticism. This new methodological approach integrates certain areas of critical endeavour which have traditionally remained excluded from main-stream Petrarch studies. My reading of the De otio inverts current interpretations inasmuch as it sees the work not as praise of 'pre-humanistic monasticism', but rather as a denunciation of Carthusian otium. Such intellectual inertia does not lead the monks back to God but turns them into instruments of the devil. Petrarch tries to rectify this stance by teaching the Carthusians about otium litteratum (imitatio, classical learning which 'spices' Christian learning, callidae iuncturae, etc.) and by challenging the validity of certain values (e.g. the Carthusian definition of religion, happiness, etc.). My reading of the Familiares presents the sub-group concerning Gherardo (called the 'gerardine' letters or cycle) as yet another way of rectifying the situation. I interpret the Ventoux letter (Fam., IV 1) as both a cryptic allegorisation of Gherardo's initial position, and a fictitious, anachronistic anticipation or summary of the aims of the gerardine sub-group. That is, in the Ventoux letter Gherardo is excluded from Petrarch's direct reading of St Augustine. The gerardine cycle then constitutes an accessus ad Augustinum whereby Petrarch teaches his brother about poetics, law, history, philosophy and theology. The accessus ends with the Familiaris XVIII 5 accompanying a copy of the Confessions. That is, the gerardine cycle closes when Gherardo is ready to read Augustine for himself. The gerardine cycle thus affords a glimpse into the structural strategies used by Petrarch in his Familiares.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.654010  DOI: Not available
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