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Presentation on theme: "THOMAS MORE THOMAS MORE."— Presentation transcript:


2 Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning
Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning. From More to Shakespeare, 1980 Introduction, pp.1-9 …there is considerable empirical evidence that there may well have been less autonomy in self-fashioning in the sixteenth century than before, that family, state, and religious institutions impose a more rigid and far-reaching discipline upon their middle class and aristocratic subjects. Autonomy is an issue but not the sole or even the central issue : the power to impose a shape upon oneself is an aspect of the more general power to control identity-that of others at least as often as one’s own. What is central is the perception –as old in academic writing as Burckhardt and Michelet- that there is in the early modern period a change in the intellectual, social, psychological, and aesthetic structures that govern the generation [nel senso di formation] of identities….perhaps the simplest observation we can make is that in the sixteenth century there appears to be an increased selfconsciousness about the fashioning of human identity , as a manipulable artful process. Such selfconsciousness had been widespread among the elites of the classical world, but Christianity brought a growing suspicion of man’s power to shape his own identity…

3 UTOPIA Umanesimo e riforma:ascetismo o partecipazione?
But there is another philosophy, more practical for statesmen, which knows its stage, adapts itself to the play in hand, and performsits role neatly and appropriately. This is the philosophy which you must employ. Otherwise we have the situation in which a comedy of Plautus is being performed and the household slaves are making trivial jokes at one another and then you come on the stage in a philosopher’s attire and recite the the passage from the Octavia where Seneca is disputing with Nero. Would it not been preferable to take a part without words than reciting something inappropriate to make a hodgepodge of comedy and tragedy? You would have spoiled and upset the actual play by bringing in irrelevant matter-even if your contribution would have been superior in itself. Whatever play is being performed, perform it as best you can, and do not upset it all simply because you think of another which has more interest

4 Book 2 ‘Utopian contempt for gold’ The case of the Ambassadors of the Anemolians (windbags=tromboni, cornamuse) Traduz p.77 e seg ‘For whereas they eat and drink in earthen and glass vessels, which indeed be curiously and properly made, and yet be of very small value: of gold and silver they make commonly chamber pots, and other like vessels, that serve for most vile uses, not only in their common halls, but in every man’s private house. Furthermore of the same metals they make great chains, with fetters, and gives wherein they tie their bondmen.’ ‘Wherein they marvel that any man be so foolish, as to have delight and pleasure in the glistering of a little trifling stone, which may behold any of the stars, or else the sun itself. Or that any man be so mad, as to count himself the nobler for the smaller or finer thread of wool, which selfsame wool (be it now in never so fine a spun thread) did once a sheep wear: and yet was she all that time no other thing than a sheep. They marvel also that gold, which of the own nature is a thing so unprofitable, is now among all people in so high estimation, that man himself, by whom, yea and for the use of whom it is so much set by, is in much less estimation than the gold itself…

5 Women’s bodies, women’s chastity’
Furthermore in choosing wives and husbands they observe earnestly and straitly a custom, which seemed to us very fond and foolish. For a sad and honest matron showeh the woman, be she maid or widow, naked to the wooer. (Nota Oxford:Plutarco dice che lo spartano Licurgo sanzionò questa usanza). And likewise a sage and discrete man exhibeth the wooer naked to the woman. At this custom we laughed and disallowed it as foolish. But they on the other part do gretly wonder at the folly of all other nations, which in buying a colt, whereas a little money is in hazard, be so chary and circumspect, that though he be almost all bare, yet they will not buy him, unless the saddle and all the harnass be taken off, lest under those coverings be hid some gall or sore. And yet in choosing a wife, which shall be either pleasure, or displeasure to them all their life after, they be so reckless, that all the residue of the woman’s body being covered with clothes, they esteem her scarcely by one hand-breadth (for they can see no more than her face), and so do join her to them not without great jeapordy of evil agreeing together, if anything in her body afterward do offend and mislike them…



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