Petrarch's Lyric Poems: The Rime Sparse and Other Lyrics

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Harvard University Press, 1976 - Literary Criticism - 657 pages

For teachers and students of Petrarch, Robert M. Durling's edition of the poems has become the standard one. Readers have praised the translation as both graceful and accurate, conveying a real understanding of what this difficult poet is saying.

The literalness of the prose translation makes this beautiful book especially useful to students who lack a full command of Italian. And students reading the verse in the original will find here an authoritative text.


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Very good translations indeed. The prose form of the translation delivers a very faithful meaning, which can be informed by basic reading knowledge of Italian. Best used when compared with Mark Musa's translation, in verse - see Francesco Petrarca, Rime: The ‘Canzoniere’; or ‘Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta’, ed. and translation by Mark Musa; intr. by Mark Musa and Barbara Manfredi (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996). 

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JayLivernois - LibraryThing

Great poetry in Italian, but the translation needs to be done by someone with a poetic sense. Read full review



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About the author (1976)

Son of an exiled Florentine clerk, Petrarch was born in Arezzo, Italy, but was raised at the court of the Pope in Avignon in southern France. He studied the classics in France and continued his education at the University of Bologna in Italy. Less than a year after his return to Avignon in 1326, Petrarch fell in love with the woman he referred to as Laura in his most famous poetry. Although he never revealed her true name, nor, apparently, ever expressed his love to her directly, he made her immortal with his Canzoniere (date unknown), or songbook, a collection of lyric poems and sonnets that rank among the most beautiful written in Italian, or in any other language. Like the major Italian poet Dante Alighieri, Petrarch chose to write his most intimate feelings in his native Italian, rather than the Latin customary at that time. Petrarch used Latin for his more formal works, however. He incorrectly assumed that he would be remembered for the Latin works, but it was his Italian lyric poetry that influenced both the content and form of all subsequent European poetry. Petrarch's sonnet form was prized by English poets as an alternative to English poet William Shakespeare's sonnet form.

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