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Vineland (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
Thomas Pynchon
Tristes Tropiques
John Weightman, Doreen Weightman, Patrick Wilcken, Claude Lévi-Strauss
Richard III
William Shakespeare
The Dwarf
Alexandra Dick, Pär Lagerkvist
The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen, Cecil Day-Lewis
Labyrinths
Richard Wolin
Giotto to Dürer: Early Renaissance Painting in the National Gallery
Jill Dunkerton, Susan Foister, Dillian Gordon, Nicholas Penny
Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics
Hubert L. Dreyfus, Paul Rabinow
Gravity's Rainbow
Thomas Pynchon
A Gravity's Rainbow Companion: Sources and Contexts for Pynchon's Novel
Steven Weisenburger
Mannerism - John Shearman This is a fabulous book for all the obvious reasons - viz., because it is a good book. The author is smart, and in discussing his topic, he opens a vista, not just on European art of the 15th-17th centuries, but on more universal trends...

In particular, Mannerism is (for Shearman) an excess of classicism, just as Asianism (Bembismo), was an excess of the classical ideals of Cicero or Atticism: http://www.answers.com/topic/atticist-asianist-controversy or http://www.ucl.ac.uk/classics/staff/fulltimestaff/stephencolvin/Atticist-Asianist.pdf

The stress on elegance, grace, artificiality, preciosity, novelty, the bizarre (meraviglie), invention, fantasy, caprice... the emphasis on variety and ornament... for its own sake, not as a consequence of the expressive aims... the decorative and ornamental... "It is decorative, it is an all-over interwoven consistency of emphasis" (149), polyphany as opposed to unity -- and as opposed to the dynamic energy and *structural* unity of Baroque (from Rubens to Bach) -- abundance and superabundance (over brevity) both in quantity and in density (prolixity)... the aesthetic pleasure taken in obscurity, in the recondite... and, in general, the the primacy of 'style' ('maniera') and form over content - and hence the violation of classical ('Latin) 'decorum' (Grk: Kairos) (or 'fitness to purpose'): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decorum#In_rhetoric_and_poetry -- all fully illustrated (though the pictures are in black-and-white, they are well and carefully chosen):


image
Candlestick, by Antonio Gentili da Faenza, 1581



But what struck me most, and what may interest GR friends, is the way in which so much of this seems to anticipate the aims of modernist and postmodernist literature. So, Shearman (186): "...the idea that complexity, prolixity, and unreasonable caprice are beautiful, or that virtuoisity is something to be cultivated and exhibited, or that art should be demonstratively artificial..." is something that could be said of many a postmodern novel -- and Shearman's point is that there have been many periods of history in which these characteristics (parataxis, a chaos of the parts..., polyphany, as opposed to unity..., that 'all-over interwoven consistency of emphasis", that preciosity of the parts, as opposed to their rigorous subordination to the structural unity or composition of the whole that is the classical and Aristotelian ideal) -- in which all these characteristics were seen as virtues to be celebrated and exaggerated, and not as vices to be explained away... and that Mannerism was, perhaps, the first and greatest expression of this aesthetic in the modern period...

At any rate -- a poor attempt at a review -- but a marvelous and surprisingly relevant book.