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The Italian Romance Epic in the Age of HumanismThe Matter of Italy and the World of Rome$
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Jane E. Everson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198160151

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198160151.001.0001

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Prehistory of the Romance Epic in Italy

Prehistory of the Romance Epic in Italy

(p.27) 2 Prehistory of the Romance Epic in Italy
The Italian Romance Epic in the Age of Humanism


Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the prehistory of the romance epic in Italy. Between the end of the 13th and the mid-14th centuries, there is ample evidence to suggest that experiments with all three strands of ‘epic’ material were contributing to produce an environment favourable to the epic attempts of Petrarch and Boccaccio. Both in prose and in verse, writers in each of the three strands can be seen to be adopting approaches that are in varying degrees modifications of the preceding tradition, whether in choice of language, metre, structure, and envisaged audience. The writers of these early narratives come from a broad range of cultural levels, both educated and popular, and envisage a similarly wide range in their audience. Nevertheless, their understanding in particular of the classical past remains heavily imbued with medieval attitudes, and given the dating of some of the works examined in the chapter, that these approaches and attitudes continued to flourish throughout the 14th century.

Keywords:   romantic epic, Italian romance, epic material, Petrarch, Boccaccio

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