Wednesday, 26 April
When any situation threatens to become a little sticky — Indian food enthusiast and former Prime Minister Sir John Major would surely attest — going back to basics is generally the wise thing to do. So after boondoggling over Chapter IV of MA Research Project for the last ten days — reading bits of this, noting bits of that, but ultimately formulating no idea of what I'm going to do with it — tonight I dug out paper and pen for some old–fashioned, no–frills cogitation.
It's veering dangerously close to cliche to suggest that keeping things focused is probably the golden rule in the racket of academic research [indeed, of all academic writing]. The individual parts — from chapters to sub–headings, to paragraphs, to individual sentences — must be stacked in such a way as to fashion a coherent argument. It's easy — out of slackness of thought, or even just out of sheer panic — to start spattering things willy–nilly over the page around whatever you have to say: that's when things get grim.
So I'm pleased to have revisited the two chapters I have written, considered closely the questions they asked and the answers [I hope] they provided, and recognised how this next chapter has to move things along towards the ominous ringing of the final solution. Providing as it will the conclusion of that part of the project which reckons directly with the Bucolicum Carmen as a text, I have decided to ask do the pastorals of Petrarch represent a faithful imitation of a 14th-century reading of Virgil's, or rather a conscious recasting of the Eclogues into a new and different form?
Already, the structure is rather clearer in my head. Which is enough for me, for now; I'll publish more as and when it happens — hopefully over the next week.