John Addington Symonds (5 October 1840 - 19 April 1893) was an English poet and literary critic. A cultural historian, he was known for his work on the Renaissance, as well as numerous biographies about writers and artists. He also wrote much poetry inspired by homosexual love.
Symonds's complete translation of Michelangelo's sonnets in 1878 was the first in English and the first based on the accurate 1863 Gausti text, which corrected Michelangelo the Younger's heterosexualizing of the poems in his 1623 edition. In this poetry anthology, published in 1887, he combined the sonnets of Tommaso Campanella and Michelangelo.
"It is with diffidence that I offer a translation of Michael Angelo's sonnets, for the first time completely rendered into English rhyme, and that I venture on a version of Campanella's philosophical poems. My excuse, if I can plead any for so bold an attempt, may be found in this-that, so far as I am aware, no other English writer has dealt with Michael Angelo's verses since the publication of his autograph; while Campanella's sonnets have hitherto been almost utterly unknown.
Something must be said to justify the issue of poems so dissimilar in a single volume. Michael Angelo and Campanella represent widely sundered, though almost contemporaneous, moments in the evolution of the Italian genius. Michael Angelo was essentially an artist, living in the prime of the Renaissance. Campanella was a philosopher, born when the Counter-Reformation was doing all it could to blight the free thought of the sixteenth century; and when the modern spirit of exact enquiry, in a few philosophical martyrs, was opening a new stage for European science."
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About the Author
Tommaso Campanella : Born in Stignano (in the county of Stilo) in the province of Reggio di Calabria in Calabria, southern Italy, Campanella was a child prodigy. Son of a poor and illiterate cobbler, he entered the Dominican Order before the age of fifteen, taking the name of fra' Tommaso in honour of Thomas Aquinas. He studied theology and philosophy with several masters.
Early on, he became disenchanted with the Aristotelian orthodoxy and attracted by the empiricism of Bernardino Telesio (1509-1588), who taught that knowledge is sensation and that all things in nature possess sensation. Campanella wrote his first work, Philosophia sensibus demonstrata ("Philosophy demonstrated by the senses"), published in 1592, in defence of Telesio.