Scholars' Bedlam: Menippean Satire in the Renaissance

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Bucknell University Press, 1995 - 205 من الصفحات
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Scholars' Bedlam is a genre study of Menippean satire in the Renaissance. While the study acknowledges the influence of certain classical authors, especially Lucian, on the revival of the Menippean form in the Renaissance, it also seeks to explain the popularity of the Menippean satire by other means. The initial chapter establishes a theoretical framework for understanding the revival of the form, discussing Renaissance Menippean satire as a vehicle for the expression of cynical and skeptical positions and also as an outlet for expressing the discontent which humanist scholars experienced with their increasingly competitive profession. The first chapter also links the Menippean satire in its Renaissance incarnation with trends of skepticism, with the social ambition of the humanist intelligentsia, and with the aesthetic category of the grotesque. Using Bakhtin and other theorists, the author defines the form as a type of intellectual satire which has a number of recognizable features, despite its various incarnations as dream vision, mock encomium, parodic learned treatise, and mock epic. The form is discussed as one in which iconoclastic sentiments generally prevail and in which the satiric freedom to criticize cultural institutions is exercised.
The following four chapters examine representative Menippean satires. Chapter 2 examines the earliest Menippean satires in Italian humanism, most of which are not listed in Kirk's bibliography of Menippean satire. It also elicits two strains of the Menippean form: a purely academic form in the mock laus or university praelectio, and a more Lucianic form in the fictional satires of Pontano, Alberti, and Calcagnini.
Chapter 3 focuses largely on Rabelais' Tiers Levre, though brief mention is made of Lipsius's Somnium, and Agrippa's De Vanitaie is discussed as a continuation of the encyclopedic tradition of Menippean satire originating in Italian humanism.
Chapters 4 and 5 turn to England and examine Thomas Nashe and Robert Burton. Nashe's Lenten Stuff is examined as a satire which has a powerfully subversive political element in it, but which remains fundamentally intellectual in its use of the mock encomium to debunk the Elizabethan rage for allegorical poetics which characterized more prestigious literary forms. The final chapter discusses Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy as a culmination of the humanist rewriting of the Menippean form, a merging of the form's tendency toward encyclopedism with the parodic traditions associated with the mock encomium. Burton's work is seen in great part as a skeptical mock summa whose purpose appears to be the undermining of humanistic dependence on textual authority.

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Acknowledgments
9
The Menippean Form
46
Rabelais and the Comic Encyclopedia
77
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