Justus Lipsius: Principles of Letter-Writing: A Bilingal Text of Justi Lipsi Epistolica Institutio

Overview

As part of the sixteenth century’s intellectual "triumvirate," which included Joseph Scaliger and Isaac Casaubon, Justus Lipsius formulated a humanist scholarship aimed ultimately at practical application in both public and personal affairs.

Justus Lipsius distinguished himself as a student of the classics, first at the Jesuit college at Cologne and then at the university in Leuven (Louvain). In 1569, soon after completing his studies, he published a precocious volume of Varia ...

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Overview

As part of the sixteenth century’s intellectual "triumvirate," which included Joseph Scaliger and Isaac Casaubon, Justus Lipsius formulated a humanist scholarship aimed ultimately at practical application in both public and personal affairs.

Justus Lipsius distinguished himself as a student of the classics, first at the Jesuit college at Cologne and then at the university in Leuven (Louvain). In 1569, soon after completing his studies, he published a precocious volume of Varia Lectiones, a collection of philological observations on classical texts. This initial work had significant and lasting effects on his career, the most immediate being an appointment as Latin secretary to Cardinal Granvelle, chief minister of Philip II in the Low Countries, who took the young man to Rome, where he was introduced to international power politics as well as to the treasures of Italian libraries, including the Vatican’s. After two years in Rome, Lipsius began his uneasy roaming, traveling from Vienna to Jena to Cologne, serving in a variety of posts. In 1579, he accepted a position at Leiden University in Holland, where he found a haven from his home province for nearly thirteen years. It was there that he delivered the lectures on letter-writing that later became Epistolica Institutio. In 1591, when Leiden University became too stridently Calvinist for Lipsius, he returned to Leuven as professor of Latin and was once again reconciled with the Catholic Church. There he remained for the rest of his life, resisting numerous appeals from foreign courts and especially from Italian churchmen.

As a particularly suitable commentator on the letter, Lipsius, like so many humanist scholars, was a prolific correspondent and published many of his own letters. In the manner typical of his age, he used the published letter as a kind of forerunner to the scholarly article. Yet his chief distinction as an epistolary theorist lies in his view of the letter as a means of personal expression. His purpose was to recover the classical Roman view of the letter as written conversation, a conception lost during the Middle Ages and only imperfectly restored during the earlier Renaissance. Hence, the Epistolica Institutio assumes an important position in the Lipsius canon: as an effort to restore the authentic features of the classical genre, it bespeaks the humanist scholar; in marking out a space for individual self-definition during a period of increasingly powerful and alienating social and religious pressures, it anticipates the ideological preoccupations of the contemporary world.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Lipsius (1547-1606) was a 16th century humanist, scholar errant, and prolific correspondent who sought to reclaim the concept of letter-writing that had died during the Dark and Middle Ages. Here, he describes the serious, the learned, and the familiar letter, as well as such topics as conversational style, clarity, two kinds of simplicity, elegance, and decorum. Translated and edited by R. V. Young and M. Thomas Hester (both English, N. Carolina State U.), this edition prints the original Latin facing the English translation on each page. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809319589
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 3/5/1996
  • Series: The Library of Renaissance Humanism , #3
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 136
  • Lexile: 1380L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

R. V. Young is Alumni Distinguished Professor of English at North Carolina State University.

M. Thomas Hester is a professor of English at North Carolina State University.

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Table of Contents

The Library of Renaissance Humanism Editorial Board
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Life of Justus Lipsius
Principles of Letter-Writing 1
Justus Lipsins Sends Greetings to His Own Francis Raphelengius 3
Ch. I Of the Various Names of the Letter and Its Form among the Ancients 5
Ch. II What a Letter Is and What Its Parts Are 9
Ch. III Content Defined and Divided; of the Letter's Preliminaries 11
Ch. IV Of the Final Parts of a Letter, and Also of the Seal 15
Ch. V Of Diverse Content and Its Organization 21
Ch. VI A Few Words about Invention and Arrangement 23
Ch. VII Of the Conversational Style: What Must Be Said of It; and First, of Brevity 25
Ch. VIII Of Clarity: How It Is Violated, How It Is Attained 29
Ch. IX Two Kinds of Simplicity, with Specific Recommendations 31
Ch. X Of Elegance and Decorum Together 33
Ch. XI Conversational Style Covered in Detail: Its Acquisition Through Imitation; Three Precepts on This, of Which the First Concerns the How and When of Reading 35
Ch. XII Of Excerpts: How They Should Be Arranged and from Whom Particular Passages Should Be Taken 43
Ch. XIII Of Expression and the Shaping of Style Through Three Types of Imitation 47
Commentary 52
Bibliography 65
Index 71
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