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'I Desire Therefore I Am': Petrarch's Canzoniere Between The Medieval And The Modern Notion Of Desire

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows that the Canzoniere, Petrarch is tampering with Dante's conception and role of erotic and spiritual desire; furthermore, in doing so, he surpasses his predecessor to shape a truly modern conception of desire. It brings to the fore a more complex perspective, in which the new sense of self and other consists of a complex negotiation between the two traditions. This confirms the unique position of Petrarch's life and work on the cusp between the medieval and the early modern periods, as well as his awareness of the significance and exceptionality of his situation. The theme of the 'pilgrimage of desire' becomes a commonplace in medieval culture. The 'modern' concept of desire in Petrarch's Canzoniere derives from the poet's editing the medieval discourse of desire with the help of the classical understanding of the theme.

Keywords: early modern period; medieval period; Petrarch's Canzoniere; spiritual desire



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