Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca, 1304-74), best kwn for his influential collection of Italian lyric poetry dedicated to his beloved Laura, was also a remarkable classical scholar, a deeply religious thinker and a philosopher of secular ethics. In this wide-ranging study, chapters by leading scholars view Petrarch's life through his works, from the epic Africa to the Letter to Posterity, from the Canzoniere to the vernacular epic Triumphi. Petrarch is revealed as the heir to the converging influences of classical cultural and medieval Christianity, but also to his great vernacular precursor, Dante, and his friend, collaborator and sly critic, Boccaccio. Particular attention is given to Petrach's profound influence on the Humanist movement and on the courtly cult of vernacular love poetry, while raising important questions as to the validity of the distinction between medieval and modern and what is lost in attempting to classify this elusive figure.
Albert Russell Ascoli is Gladyce Arata Terrill Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His publications include Ariosto's Bitter Harmony: Crisis and Evasion in the Italian Renaissance (1987), Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation of National Identity around the Risorgimento (co-edited with Krystyna von Henneberg, 2001), Dante and the Making of a Modern Author (Cambridge, 2008) and A Local Habitation, and a Name: Imagining Histories in the Italian Renaissance (2011). He is co-founder and volume editor of the electronic journal, California Italian Studies. Unn Falkeid is Research Fellow at the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, affiliated to the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University. She is the author of Petrarca og det moderne selvet (Petrarch and the Modern Self, 2007), the editor of Dante. A Critical Reappraisal (2008) and the co-editor of Rethinking Gaspara Stampa in the Canon of Renaissance Poetry (with Aileen A. Feng, 2015).