A Rhetoric and Hermeneutics of Intimacy in Petrarch's <i>Familiares</i>

Kathy Eden

in The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226184623
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226184647 | DOI:
A Rhetoric and Hermeneutics of Intimacy in Petrarch's Familiares

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The famous encounter between Petrarch and the epistolary Cicero sets the primal scene for the Renaissance rediscovery of intimacy. This chapter focuses on the impact of Cicero's style of intimate writing on Petrarch's writing. Petrarch also claims in the opening letter to have learned from Cicero that “the true characteristic of an epistle is to make the recipient more informed about those things that are not known”, chief among these things is the writer's “state of mind”. The diversity among men, moreover, engenders a diversity of styles, any one of which may find favor with one reader but not with another, and even with the same reader on some occasions but not on others. Petrarch also acknowledges variations in his own style. Intending to express the innermost thoughts and feelings of the letter writer, it not only reflects but in turn strengthens the bond of intimacy or familiarita. Petrarch, throughout his letters, justifies both his own zeal in letter writing and encourages a comparable zealousness in his friends on the grounds that epistolary exchange substitutes for face-to-face conversation.

Keywords: Petrarch; Cicero; familiarita; style; Renaissance rediscovery; intimacy

Chapter.  11389 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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