All 16 entries tagged Petrarch

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August 14, 2006

Monday, August 14

Fulfilment of obligation to not shirk writing something worthwhile on finishing chapter

No, I didn't honestly think I could get away with slithering through the chain–link gates without producing a fuller report on my efforts yesterday. It's just that I'd finished the chapter, wanted to immerse myself in my few hours of guiltless freedom, had used up almost all my quota of written expression power et cetera

Worth noting that the chapter was dangling about 400 words away from being finished for almost all of last week. All that I actually added yesterday lunchtime — although clearly, it was so taxing as to leave me too enfeebled to blog properly — was a concluding paragraph that questioned the wisdom of reading Boccaccio's Buccolicum Carmen as overwhelmed by the personal presence of Petrarch.

Try saying that with a mouthful of dry Weetabix…

My feelings on the chapter are that — although it is maybe a little top–heavy, with the power of analysis rather dwindling in the second half — it is fundamentally sound and definitely illuminates Petrarch's Bucolicum Carmen in a way that Chapters II–IV do not and cannot. If I can't get it to Andrew before the start of term I hope to supply him with an email attachment for feedback.

Also pleased with having finished in less — alright, only one day less — than three weeks, which I suspect makes it my least sluggish chapter to date. I make it that there are about six weeks until my present library card expires and with almost 29,000 words in the bank, it may not be folly to think I can at least have the components of a Master's thesis together by that time. Mightn't be all corrected, revised, polished and refined but the body of the words themselves could be there.

What I have to smear the remaining 7,000–10,000 words between are; some kind of concluding section [a Conclusion], and my Introduction — both currently embryonic in my thinking; and my final — ironically enough, what will be the first in the final study — chapter, on the Latin eclogues of Dante.

I'm thinking Chapter I will be only half the length at best of the others, as there are only two poems and I may not be able to gather the resources on other medieval ecloguists to really bulk it out. At the moment, I envisage that the chapter will take as its epigraph Boccaccio's comment on all the bucolic writers between Virgil and Petrarch being "obscure and not worth considering" and use Dante's poems to ask whether Petrarch deserves to be thought of as a reviver of the Eclogue.

I have a few days this week where I can bury my nose in the books and set myself thinking about how the chapter will take shape. I'm away this weekend for a wedding and probably moving house next week so I could do with taking advantage of what time I have now, while I still have it.

So anyway. That seems fairly thorough. Can I go now?


August 13, 2006

Sunday, August 13

It appears two weeks have gone by since I last blogged. Very sorry about that.

Finished my chapter this afternoon, anyway. I am reasonably pleased with it.

Anyone wandering types who'd like to read, please email I.D.Fielding@warwick.ac.uk.

Only about 7,000 words left to write on the project. Plan to launch into my Dante chapter as soon as possible.


July 30, 2006

Sunday, July 30

Chapter continues to progress, with 1000 words added this weekend. I'm only half–way through discussing the sixteen eclogues of the Buccolicum Carmen and I've already ploughed through almost half of my chapter's length. Things are getting very dense in the middle and I can tell already there will be a lot of fat to cut away once this thing is cooked through. Better to have too much than too little.

Hope to update again tomorrow.


July 28, 2006

Friday, 27 July

Added some 700 words today — not quite as fluidly as an Alastair Cook century innings — to push my week's work on Chapter V up to almost 2,000. What I did today was mainly concerned with the first and earliest poems of Boccaccio's Buccolicum Carmen — composed when the influence of Petrarch's bucolics was not yet prevalant — as a kind of pastiche of Virgil's three 'amorous' eclogues. Though it's heavy on the footnotes I'm fairly pleased with what I've put together.

Working two jobs tomorrow, so I'll look to pick up again on Sunday and Monday.


July 24, 2006

Monday, 24 July

Having spent the last couple of weeks reading and noting from Janet Smarr's edition of Boccaccio's Buccolicum Carmen, I have returned to the Learning Grid to type up the pan scribbled out in my trusty notebook and begin writing.

And this is the worst part of doing my thesis, without a doubt; such dread that flashing cursor inspires, waiting ahead of the Introduction I've to write. I feel as if I can't find any of the threads I let go of when I finished Chapter IV.

I reckon I can give myself until the weekend of the 19–20 August to have this done. After that I'll be too embroiled with moving house and committment to visiting Kate's [and mine] to get anything done until early September at least.

That leaves me one whole chapter still to write — plus introduction, conclusion, corrections and other adjustments — in just one month before my deadline. I have always been aiming for more like Christmas, but trying to balance too much of this project with full–time work in the Autumn won't be easy or fun.

I could do with finishing this chapter in three weeks rather than four, like I did the last one…


July 10, 2006

Monday, 10 July

Productive day spent in PGR Room today.

Completed my eclogue–by–eclogue profile of Boccaccio's bucolic collection [that is, the one I was putting together without actually having gone through the poems first] and promptly got to work assimilating the scholarship of Janet Smarr from the edition of her translation. Did I not mention? The book finally arrived last Thursday — after four weeks of waiting on Inter–Library Loan — right in time for me to go away for the weekend.

Nevertheless, what's encouraging is that the prospective chapter is already taking shape before I've had chance to really map my own reading of Boccaccio's pastorals. At this stage, the "essay question" of Chapter V is from the writings of Boccaccio, how can we appraise Petrarch's position within the "pastoral tradition"? And for good measure, how does Boccaccio locate himself within that tradition? Will progress with that until I see fit to alter it — full planning stage can't be far away.

From what I've read so far, it appears that although Petrarch's influence upon his fellow poet was not inconsiderable — the subject–matter of Boccaccio's pastorals progresses from the worldy–political to the spiritual–philosophical as he read more of his mentor's Bucolicum Carmen, over a period of years — Boccaccio still talks of Petrarchan pastoral in terms of a redefinition of the form; a redefinition that he retreats from — or, at least, is not sufficiently confident in his poetic standing to adopt — towards a more modest model that is closer to Virgil's [or, indeed, to Dante's].

So I have an idea of what to look out for before I begin my own scrutiny of the Buccolicum Carmen [two Cs for Boccaccio]. Will be getting down and dirty with some unabashed textual analysis over the next week or two — and, of course, keeping the world informed of any significant discoveries that I make in the course of that time.


May 17, 2006

Wednesday, 17 May

Completing a Blogging triptych: a personal best since like January.

Continued to press down my foot on the throat of Chapter IV by finishing the section on the letters [mainly to Boccaccio] in which Petrarch outlines his theory of creative imitation. Having established how he would have determined to make his own, distinctive impression upon the pastoral form with the Bucolicum Carmen, I am now ready to unpack his poetics and explain what sort of image he'd shape it into.

Elected just to re–read notes and plot out that section rather than move on to more writing; though as the plan is far more comprehensive than what I usually give myself to work with I'm optimistic that when I do sit down to it again [Friday, I expect] I might be able to go right through and do it all. Chapter could be 4,000 words + by then.

Happened upon a little nugget in an article I must have read about a dozen times — such a lazy skimmer am I. Bernardo has a half–paragraph about Petrarch — with his tendency to personify abstract significations — writing poetry that appears complex but has a fairly simple meaning, whereas Dante (to use his comparison, though I would say the same is true of Virgil) — having more of a tendency to the opposite — writes poems that appear simple but have a very complex meaning. I think this articulates my nebulous ideas about what — beyond the allegories in themselves — it is that leads the likes of Greene to refer to the Carmen in terms like "failure", "stillborn".

Checked out Wolfson Room when I visited Library after finishing — remembered Andrew's recommendation that I familiarise myself with a little Augustine considering that he was another of Petrarch's icons. Looks a little pokey, and spoiled as I am by all this slimline technology I felt my skin crawl slightly at the sight of suitcase–sized desktop PCs. No — even when people approach me as I study and ask, "You're one of the people who works here, aren't you..?" — I'm Learning Grid through and through now. It's pointless trying to get away when the end of term is so close.


May 16, 2006

Tuesday, 16 May

As I suspected: yesterday's slog, though torturous, was just a rite of passage to freer and easier writing. I spent about five hours at the computer today, discussing Petrarch's paraphrasing — in various of his letters — of Seneca's theories of imitatio. Inserted — for the sake of clarity, as to my meaning — a little extra padding into the rudimentary introduction I wrote yesterday and ended up with over a thousand words banked on the chapter. 1,600 total.

The Learning Grid experiment continues to progress with pleasing results. I have been tipped off as to the presence of the postgrad–only PC cluster in the Main Library's Wolfson Room [the University probably has let me know but I'm too ignorant to have realised] but only if things get desperate will I venture over there. I am quite keen to settle here after Week 8 and through the summer months, when the wobbly–lipped revisionites have all cleared out.

Plan is to do the same tomorrow, and get stuck into the next section — which will reckon directly with Petrarch's theories of poetry [that is, not just of poetic imitation] and how the Bucolicum Carmen represents pastoral cast in his own image, if you will. If I can manage the same as I did today I'll be very happy…


February 27, 2006

Monday, 27 February

Inched past the mini-milestone that is the final subheading [probably] of my Servius chapter just now. Having finished the section on Petrarch's writing the Bucolicum Carmen to accommodate the tastes of uber-finicky grammatical commentators, I now have only to complete the section on his reworking of the Servian idea of pastoral as a metaphor for the intellectual's existence. For sure, easier said than done — though I feel now that the end is very nearly in sight.

Word count is about 4,700 — so I'm on target in that respect as well.

Speaking of "intellectual existence": my research presentation on that very topic will be rolling into town tomorrow at high noon, with a six-shooter in its belt and a cigarette wedged between its teeth. If you're the macabre sort with a penchant for zinging bullets, spattered bloodstains and unadulterated ultraviolence, then I do recommend you come along. There are twelve handouts — copied at the hand of Josie Brown herself, no less, this very afternoon — to go around.

"A man's life in these parts often depends on a mere scrap of information"

Expect to spend the rest of the evening practising tomorrow's schtick.

Last Italian lecture today, with exams and revision sessions incumbent from now until the end of the year. Tutor Simon Gilson remarked that I have shown a strong improvement since joining the class [which, considering that I couldn't exactly go backwards starting from scratch, is something of a relief]. The idea now is that I spend a couple of hours every week grappling with some of the Italian texts that Carlo Caruso recommended to me at the beginning of the year.


February 22, 2006

Wednesday, 22 February

I believe the accurate term to describe what I've been having the past two days is "a mare". Among various other random acts of senselessness, I have realised [after a period of one week] that while I was out running errands on Valentine's day afternoon, I managed to somewhere misplace a book that my housemate had borrowed for me from Bristol University library. Attempts to track it down have been unsuccessful and the odds of it turning up anywhere have to be slim to nil. I have been in touch with librarians at Bristol and if it should remain lost three weeks from now, then I will do very well to have to pay only £25 to replace it.

Unfortunately, a full £50 is probably a more realistic estimate.

And so preoccupied was I on the bus this afternoon, taken by a sudden impulse to dash down from the top deck and tear Robert Dyas' to pieces with my bare hands to look for it, that I left my woolie gloves lying on the seat. It's very trying, being such a moron.

In brighter news, I have approximately 24 hours to meet my self-imposed deadline for finishing the Servius chapter. Considering my present rate and dearth of ideas, direction or motivation, I think that I would do well to have it done before the end of term. I have today returned to the writing after a hiatus of almost ten days, and added about 300 words in the last few hours. Attempted to revise the plan that is blu-tacked on the wall next to my desk so as to try to plot a course through this shadowy second-half of the chapter, but have ended up with something essentially the same as I had before. Of no consolation is the fact it still took me an hour-and-a-half to do that.

Trialled my seminar presentation for Kate last evening; such a sweet heart, to willingly sit through it twice. She said that although it was good, she found it confusing in more than one place and that I'd probably benefit from stressing more frequently my key points. The handout that I spent yesterday afternoon compiling was also, she said, difficult to follow. All in all I think that it won't require much more work and should go well, still.

Working at BioMed Grid tomorrow, till four. I'm optimistic that I may be able to steal a little ground before that deadline goes whooshing past, though.


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