This book clearly shows that imitatio is the dominant critical concept in Italian writers from Petrarch to Bembo, and the outcrop of polemics on the subject at the end of the fifteenth century confirms the pre-eminent status of literary imitation on the critical agenda of the time. Once Petrarch discovers that imitatio is an integral part of the creative process, his emphasis on both the suitability and the pitfalls of literary imitation ensures that the topic remains in the forefront of literary debates in the next century and a half. The question of imitation thus embraces the major figures in the development of Italian literary history in this period, from Petrarch via Alberti and Poliziano to Bembo. The imitation debate has a theoretical and practical coherence in the period under review, moving from Dante's embryonic notions of imitatio to the complexity and consistency of Bembo's position two centuries later.
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