Self-Commentary in Early Modern European Literature, 1400–1700


This volume investigates the various ways in which writers comment on, present, and defend their own works, and at the same time themselves, across early modern Europe. A multiplicity of self-commenting modes, ranging from annotations to explicatory prose to prefaces to separate critical texts and exemplifying a variety of literary genres, are subjected to analysis. Self-commentaries are more than just an external apparatus: they direct and control reception of the primary text, thus affecting notions of authorship and readership. With the writer understood as a potentially very influential and often tendentious interpreter of their own work, the essays in this collection offer new perspectives on pre-modern and modern forms of critical self-consciousness, self-representation, and self-validation.

Contributors are Harriet Archer, Gilles Bertheau, Carlo Caruso, Jeroen De Keyser, Russell Ganim, Joseph Harris, Ian Johnson, Richard Maber, Martin McLaughlin, John O’Brien, Magdalena Ożarska, Federica Pich, Brian Richardson, Els Stronks, and Colin Thompson.

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Francesco Venturi, PhD (2012, University of Siena), is Associate Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Oslo. He has published widely in the field of early modern and twentieth-century literature and culture, including the monograph Genesi e storia della ‘trilogia’ di Andrea Zanzotto (ETS, 2016).
"Its wide-ranging aspect is what makes this work thought provoking, demanding, and well worth the effort."
Barbara A. Goodman, Clayton State University, in Seventeenth-Century News 78.1-2, pp. 59-63

"[a] splendid collection of essays on authorial self-commentary [...] The fertile insights and extensive bibliographies that mark every contribution to the volume make it required reading for historians of Renaissance and Reformation literature."
William J. Kennedy, Cornell University, in Renaissance and Reformation 43.1, pp. 294-296
List of Illustrations
Notes on the Editor
Notes on the Contributors

Francesco Venturi

1 Alberti’s Commentarium to His First Literary Work: Self-Commentary as Self-Presentation in the Philodoxeos
Martin McLaughlin

2 Elucidation and Self-Explanation in Filelfo’s Marginalia
Jeroen De Keyser

3 Vernacular Self-Commentary during Medieval Early Modernity: Reginald Pecock and Gavin Douglas
Ian Johnson

4 On the Threshold of Poems: a Paratextual Approach to the Narrative/Lyric Opposition in Italian Renaissance Poetry
Federica Pich

5 Self-Commentary on Language in Sixteenth-Century Italian Prefatory Letters
Brian Richardson

6 ‘All Outward and on Show’: Montaigne’s External Glosses
John O’Brien

7 Companions in Folly: Genre and Poetic Practice in Five Elizabethan Anthologies
Harriet Archer

8 The Journey of the Soul: The Prose Commentaries on His Own Poems by St John of the Cross
Colin P. Thompson

9 Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Annotation and Self-Exegesis in La Ceppède
Russell Ganim

10 Can a Poet be ‘Master of [his] owne Meaning’? George Chapman and the Paradoxes of Authorship
Gilles Bertheau

11 Critical Failures: Corneille Observes His Spectators
Joseph Harris

12 Self-Criticism, Self-Assessment, and Self-Affirmation: The Case of the (Young) Author in Early Modern Dutch Literature
Els Stronks

13 Reading the Margins: The Uses of Authorial Side Glosses in Anna Stanisławska’s Transaction (1685)
Magdalena Ożarska

14 Mockery and Erudition: Alessandro Tassoni’s Secchia rapita and Francesco Redi’s Bacco in Toscana
Carlo Caruso

Richard Maber

Index Nominum
Academics and students interested in early modern literature and culture, comparative literature, classics, history of the book, literary theory, poetics, literary criticism, issues of authorship and readership, reception studies, and exegesis. Keywords: Renaissance, exegesis, interpretation, classics, canon, authorship, readership, poetics, reception, paratext, literary criticism, literary theory, self-fashioning.
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