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Open Access The Vineyard of Verse

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The Vineyard of Verse

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The State of Scholarship on Latin Poetry of the Old Society of Jesus

This review of scholarship on Jesuit humanistic literature and theater is Latin-oriented because the Society’s sixteenth-century code of studies, the Ratio Studiorum, in force for nearly two centuries, enjoined the study and imitation in Latin of the best classical authors. Notwithstanding this well-known fact, co-ordinated modern scholarship on the Latin poetry, poetics, and drama of the Old Society is patchy. We begin with questions of sources, reception, and style. Then recent work on epic, didactic, and dramatic poetry is considered, and finally, on a handful of “minor” genres. Some genres and regions are well studied (drama in the German-speaking lands), others less so. There is a general scarcity of bilingual editions and commentaries of many “classic” Jesuit authors which would, in the first instance, bring them to the attention of mainstream modern philologists and literary historians, and, in the longer term, provide a firmer basis for more synoptic and synthetic studies of Jesuit intertextuality and style(s). Along with the interest and value of this poetry as world literature, I suspect that the extent to which the Jesuits’ Latin labors in the vineyard of the classroom formed the hearts and minds of their pupils, including those who went on to become Jesuits, is underestimated.

Affiliations: 1: Cassamarca Foundation Chair of Latin Humanism University of Western Australia, yasmin.haskell@uwa.edu.au

This review of scholarship on Jesuit humanistic literature and theater is Latin-oriented because the Society’s sixteenth-century code of studies, the Ratio Studiorum, in force for nearly two centuries, enjoined the study and imitation in Latin of the best classical authors. Notwithstanding this well-known fact, co-ordinated modern scholarship on the Latin poetry, poetics, and drama of the Old Society is patchy. We begin with questions of sources, reception, and style. Then recent work on epic, didactic, and dramatic poetry is considered, and finally, on a handful of “minor” genres. Some genres and regions are well studied (drama in the German-speaking lands), others less so. There is a general scarcity of bilingual editions and commentaries of many “classic” Jesuit authors which would, in the first instance, bring them to the attention of mainstream modern philologists and literary historians, and, in the longer term, provide a firmer basis for more synoptic and synthetic studies of Jesuit intertextuality and style(s). Along with the interest and value of this poetry as world literature, I suspect that the extent to which the Jesuits’ Latin labors in the vineyard of the classroom formed the hearts and minds of their pupils, including those who went on to become Jesuits, is underestimated.

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2014-01-01
2016-12-08

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