The Idea of the Renaissance

William Kerrigan and Gordon Braden, The Idea of the Renaissance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989)

From a review in the South Atlantic Review, Vol. 55, No. 4, Nov. 1999:

This book by W. Kerrigan and G. Braden deals with the question of historical periodization–a question which is once again at the forefront of current academic debates–and seeks to define the essence of the Renaissance and of the modern age. In the fairly conventional view of the two authors, the Renaissance, which is conceived as the period stretching from Petrarch to Milton, is the distinctive historical context that shapes a new sense of the singularity of individual experiences and of new possibilities opening up for the individual. This emphasis on individuality is crystallized, as Kerrigan and Braden try to show in their tripartite argument, in the practices of Machiavellian power; in the articulations of Renaissance thought; and in the Petrarchan love discourse molding the European poetic imagination of the Renaissance.

Table of Contents:

Burckhardt’s Renaissance
Beyond Burckhardt
The Prince and the Playhouse: A Fable
Cassirer’s Legacy to the Burckhardt Tradition
Nicolas of Cusa’s Symbolic Renaissance
The Neoplatonic Individualism of Marsilio Ficino
Pico della Mirandola and Renaissance Ambition
Descartes’s Beginning
Petrarch Refracted: The Evolution of the English Love Lyric
Lust Captured: Paradise Lost and Renaissance Love Poetry

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