The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy
In 1345, when Petrarch recovered a lost collection of letters from Cicero to his best friend Atticus, he discovered an intimate Cicero, a man very different from either the well-known orator of the Roman forum or the measured spokesman for the ancient schools of philosophy. It was Petrarch’s encounter with this previously unknown Cicero and his letters that Kathy Eden argues fundamentally changed the way Europeans from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries were expected to read and write.
The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy explores the way ancient epistolary theory and practice were understood and imitated in the European Renaissance.Eden draws chiefly upon Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca—but also upon Plato, Demetrius, Quintilian, and many others—to show how the classical genre of the “familiar” letter emerged centuries later in the intimate styles of Petrarch, Erasmus, and Montaigne. Along the way, she reveals how the complex concept of intimacy in the Renaissance—leveraging the legal, affective, and stylistic dimensions of its prehistory in antiquity—pervades the literary production and reception of the period and sets the course for much that is modern in the literature of subsequent centuries. Eden’s important study will interest students and scholars in a number of areas, including classical, Renaissance, and early modern studies; comparative literature; and the history of reading, rhetoric, and writing.
Introduction: Rediscovering Style
Chapter One: A Rhetoric of Intimacy in Antiquity
Chapter Two: A Rhetoric and Hermeneutics of Intimacy in Petrarch’s Familiares
Chapter Three: Familiaritas in Erasmian Rhetoric and Hermeneutics
Chapter Four: Reading and Writing Intimately in Montaigne’s Essais
Conclusion: Rediscovering Individuality
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
“The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy is very well written, lucid, and consistently engaging. Kathy Eden has very carefully woven together the warp and woof of her major concerns in each chapter, anticipating what will follow and looking back to what has preceded, offering signposts and summaries, forecasts and conclusions, all with authority and verve. There are many ‘eureka’ moments here, and Eden allows her reader to participate fully in discovering them. A wonderful achievement.”
“Presented with Kathy Eden’s customary concision, sustained focus, and meticulous scholarship, this new study of classical and early modern writing practices argues that the Renaissance remaking of the ‘intimate’ or ‘familiar’ style formed a key strand in the prehistory of modern individuality. Eden probes the social, legal, and hermeneutic implications of the cluster of classical terms used to characterize this style, which is understood not simply as an outgrowth of rhetoric, but crucially as an instrument of communication. What begins as a book about a rhetorical concept thus becomes in the end a cultural history with a remarkably rich anthropological resonance. The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy is essential reading for anyone interested in the classical tradition, the history of rhetoric and style, and the cultural history of the individual.”—Terence Cave, St. John’s College, University of Oxford