A new investigation of the meaning that Italian Renaissance humanism had for an essential but neglected group: the humanists themselves.
This important study takes a new approach to understanding Italian Renaissance humanism, one of the most important cultural movements in Western history. Through a series of close textual studies, Patrick Baker explores the meaning that Italian Renaissance humanism had for an essential but neglected group: the humanists themselves.This important study takes a new approach to understanding Italian Renaissance humanism, based not on scholarly paradigms or philosophical concepts but on a neglected yet indispensable perspective: the humanists' understanding of themselves. Through a series of close textual studies, Patrick Baker excavates what humanists thought was important about humanism, how they viewed their own history, what goals they enunciated, what triumphs they celebrated - in short, he attempts to reconstruct humanist identity. What emerges is a small, coherent community dedicated primarily not to political ideology, a philosophy of man, an educational ethos, or moral improvement, but rather to the pursuit of classical Latin eloquence. Grasping the significance this stylistic ideal had for the humanists is essential to understanding both their sense of themselves and the importance they and others attached to their movement. For eloquence was no mere aesthetic affair but rather appeared to them as the guarantor of civilisation itself.
'His book will serve as a useful reference. He writes with verve, makes perceptive observations, and, when he translates from the Latin, he does so competently.' John Monfasani, Renaissance Quarterly
'This book, which is elegantly written and impeccably presented, provides a useful corrective to modern assumptions about Renaissance humanism; it offers a contextualized analysis of hitherto little-studied texts, and gives a more balanced account of the humanistic movement … It provides an interesting insight into the importance of studying humanistic writings produced in non-Florentine contexts, as well as in vernacular culture.' Maude Vanhaelen, Modern Language Review
'However, with his methodologically stringent approach, his familiarity with the huge literature on fifteenth-century Italian humanism, and his mastery of the Latin sources, Patrick Baker actually achieves what he set out to do, namely to offer us a new and stimulating answer to an old and vexing question: how to define the essence of Renaissance humanism? I recommend his book to all students of Italian Renaissance humanism.' Marianne Pade, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
Dimensions: 228mm x 151mm x 18mm