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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Petrarch and literature

Petrarch (1304-1374) was an Italian scholar best known for his contributions to the Italian Renaissance. Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann said,


"Petrarch, a character on whom I never think but with love, formed his mind entirely in Solitude, and there rendered himself capable of transacting the most important political affairs... Even authors are ignorant of the obligations which literature owes him; that he rescued it from the barbarism beneath which it had so long been buried; that he saved the best works of the ancient writers from dust and destruction, and that all these treasures would have been lost to us, if he had not sought and procured correct copies of them." (An Examination of the Advantages of Solitude and of Its Operations, 1808)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Petrarch.




"Continued work and application form my soul's nourishment. So soon as I commenced to rest and relax I should cease to live. I know my own powers. I am not fitted for other kinds of work, but my reading and writing, which you would have me discontinue, are easy tasks, nay, they are a delightful rest and relieve the burden of heavier anxieties. There is no lighter burden, nor more agreeable, than a pen. Other pleasures fail us or wound us while they charm, but the pen we take up rejoicing and lay down with satisfaction, for it has the power to advantage not only its lord and master, but many others as well, even though they be far away - sometimes, indeed, though they be not born for thousands of years to come." (Letter to Giovanni Boccaccio, 1373)


"This age of ours consequently has let fall, bit by bit, some of the richest and sweetest fruits that the tree of knowledge has yielded; has thrown away the results of the vigils and labors of the most illustrious men of genius, things of more value, I am almost tempted to say, than anything else in the whole world." (On the Scarcity of Copyists)


"If you want glory from your books, you must... not just have them; not place them in your library but in your memory; and lock them in your mind and not in your bookcase." (De remediis utriusque fortunae)