Monday, July 22, 2019

The Italian Renaissance Essay Example for Free

The Italian Renaissance Essay Introduction The literature of the Renaissance featured heroism, justice and power, influencing modern political, social and philosophical ideals. In contrast to the middle ages where censorship limited to themes and genres for literature, the Renaissance served as platform for public commentary and discussion. However, it should also be noted that though many of the writers of the period had greater independence than other artists of the time from the Church, many of the writers enjoyed patronage by state political powers or became part of the political machinery of these institutions. In Bondanella and Musa’s (1987) The Italian Renaissance Reader, the works of some of the most notable writers of the Renaissance movement provide a glimpse to the evolution of the rationale behind the artistic movement which while adhering to classical traditions, revived intellectual thinking and exchange. Background Though the Renaissance was a reaction to the medieval conservative views and saw the resurgence of arts, literature and philosophy, there was still significant conservatism in sciences. Thus, though many of the writers of the period can be considered to be forward-thinking, the prescription of logic and deduction as intellectual disciplines is apparent. One advocate of the methodology is Petrarch who highlighted classical sources and scholarship as the standard of reasoning and study (p. 57). This tradition or style is apparent in the works of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and Baldesar Castiglione’s Book of the Courier among other as well (pp. 259, 60, 197). Building from the literature and art revolution of the late 1200’s, Italian became the literary language of the period in contrast to previous preference for other European languages. It created not only a nationalistic identity to literature but also served as reinforcement for state, social and political works that Italian writer would be most noted for. Consequently, the development would also support the growth of publishing in the country, particularly Venice, which in turn will further enhance the regard for Italian Renaissance writers. However, despite these changes, religion remained a primary theme in most Italian works. Majority of the works were either reflective of the medieval themes or applications of such themes using humanism. Themes and Ideas Italian writers sought to assimilate classical traditions in their work in the belief that these intellectualized and rationalized their work. One of the most common themes and ideas in the writers featured humanism and self-awareness. The former can be illustrated by Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola’s Oration on the Dignity of Man (pp. 180-183). In this work, man is portrayed as an individual whose identity and value is his own and though he is subject to religion, society and the state, remains an individual. As such, he is considered both an actor an object of other actions through the process of living. Self-awareness in turn can be illustrated in the work of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti (pp. 187-196, 377-381). Though they are most renowned for their contribution to visual art, both these artists’ notes indicate their belief that art as a product of man is beyond his inspiration or labor. They implied that the work or artists and in a sense all other labors of man, where to be appreciated for themselves beyond their identity as a work of an individual and in turn to understand the artist beyond the work being viewed. Boccaccio’s Decameron also proved to be inspirational to other writers of the period not only in Italy but in the rest of Europe including the works of William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer (p. 60). Furthermore, the Decameron is considered to not to represent the characteristics of the Renaissance Italy literature but actually set the pace for other writers since Boccaccio was one of the most notable students of Petrarch. In the course of his story of the ten story tellers running from the plague combined religious themes with secular discussion of ethics and morality (pp. 59-61). In all of these writings, there is greater empowerment for men to mold their destinies and the ability to make choices. Ultimately, the Italian Renaissance writers believed that salvation and redemption depend on an individual’s capacity and commitment to realize them. In such a perspective, though religion remains to be a predominant power, man is the qualifier of human experience. Moreover, there is greater recognition of man’s hand in the life of others as well as his own. In turn, this reinforced the call for greater responsibility and accountability for one’s actions. Impact and Influence One of the most important contributions of Italian Renaissance writers is the establishment of Italian as a language of literature. This would serve as a foundation for the Italian literary industry as well as the role of the Italian writers as political and social intellectual leaders in Europe. Another notable contribution of Italian Renaissance writers is their influence on other writers of the period such as Shakespeare and Chaucer as well as the development of humanistic ideals and appreciation of art. A hierarchy for living matter was also developed based on a hierarchy of intellect implying that man’s greatest ability was the capacity of reasoning. In terms of literary style and composition, characterization and plot development in Italian Renaissance literature influenced the development of experiential narrative melding religious and secular views on morality, ethics and philosophy. In studying these trends in artistic composition, techniques, subjects and styles developed by Italian Renaissance writers, one will be able to develop insights to the social, political and economic developments brought on by the Renaissance in Italy which cradled both the Renaissance and the period by which it sought to contrast itself. Like the visual arts, Renaissance writers often employed illusionism to explore real issues. In doing so, they were able to present social, moral or philosophical commentary without direct conflict with other belief systems and at the same time highlight the value of systematic and scholastic study. In doing so, it brought into popular arenas intellectual discussion reminiscent of classical scholastic traditions. However, though there was significant reference to classical traditions, Italian Renaissance writers recognized the difference between philosophy and science which persists to contemporary studies as well. Reference Bondanella, Julia Conaway and Musa, Mark (1987). The Italian Renaissance Reader. New York: Penguin Books

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