Poetry and Censorship in Counter-Reformation Italy


In Poetry and Censorship Jennifer Helm offers insight into motives and strategies of Counter-Reformation censorship of poetry in Italy. Materials of Roman censorial authorities reveal why the control of poetry and of its reception was crucial to Counter-Reformation cultural politics.
Censorship of poetry should enable the church to influence human inner life that ---from thought and belief to fantasy and feeling--- was evolving considerably at that time. The control of poetic genres and modes of writing played an important part here. Yet, to what extent censorship could affect poetic creation emerges from a manuscript of the Venetian poet Domenico Venier. The materials suggest the impact of Counter-Reformation censorship on poetry began earlier and was more extensive than has yet been propagated.

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Jennifer Helm, Ph.D. (2010), Göttingen University, Germany, is lecturer in Romance Literary Studies at the same university. She has published articles on Catholic censorship of literary works.
List of Abbreviations
Document Finding List

1 Control of Literature as a Strategy of Catholic Reformation
Motives and Modes of Influence
2 Approaching Censorial Reading
2.1 The Virgin Text
2.2 Who is the Author of a Sinful Text?
2.3 The Author in Censorship Practice
2.4 Tracing the Imagined Reader
3 Mechanisms of the Roman Index
3.1 The “Libri-Omnes”-Principle
3.2 On the Censorship of Literary Genres
3.3 Manipulation of ‘Stylistic’ Modes of Writing?
3.4 Reflections on Criteria of the Inquisitio of Text
4 Censures of the Marvellous
4.1 A Prohibition of Wonders?
4.2 The Marvellous, Characters and Action
4.2.1 Human Characters and Animals with Supernatural Powers
4.2.2 Supernatural Beings
4.2.3 Objects and Places
4.3 Marvel and Fate
4.4 Censorship and Guided Reading
4.5 Shaping Narrative Structures – On the Fantastic
5 Censures of Love
5.1 On Freedom and ‘Reality’ of the Word
5.2 Forbidden Goddesses
5.3 Disillusioning the Lover
5.4 Intimacy Locked Away: Trimming Literary Genres
6 Censoring Laughter
6.1 Sensitivity for Verbal Expression
6.2 Privileged Treatment and National Sentiment
6.3 Hidden Danger in Comic Poetry
7 Self-Censorship and Poetic Counter-Strategies
7.1 Between Publication and Censorship
7.2 A Poetic Apology of Love Lyrics?
7.2.1 Embedding the Story and Defining Love
7.2.2 Love and Freedom
7.2.3 Contemplation and Enlightenment
7.2.4 Self-Reflection and Anticipated Conversion
7.2.5 Martyrdom and Deification
7.2.6 An Attempt to Speak of Two Loves at the Same Time
7.2.7 A New Way of Contemplation and an Untypical End
7.3 A New Book Project or Censorship?
Editorial Notes
Documents 1: Cases and Judgements
Documents 2: Relating Documents
Index of Names

All interested in the history of ecclesiastical censorship and poetry, and anyone concerned with the Counter-Reformation and related themes.