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Visitor Posts. As Leonello Modona explains: "II nostro [ The twenty-eighth, and final, section of the work has caught the interest of some literary scholars, as it depicts a voyage to the afterlife. Thus, this unique text demonstrates that the poet was the inheritor and negotiator of several different literatures, acting as both an insider and innovator in each. Immanuel lived during the time of great intellectual activity among the Roman community and was a major participant in it. A large number of Hebrew manuscripts were copied and circulated in Rome during this period Busi In addition to Immanuel, the poet Benjamin Anau wrote liturgical poetry, and [ehiel Anau produced a work on ethics in that city.
At the same time, in Rome there was an intense program of translating works into Hebrew. While these intellectual pursuits were taking place within a small community, they were not practiced in isolation, as De Benedetti asserts. These included a number of Arabic texts, which allowed important scientific manuscripts to be introduced to the West Busi These include translations of the Bible, translations of Hebrew prayers, and original compositions, ostensibly written for those who knew the Hebrew alphabet, but not the language itself Cassuto, "Un'antichissima elegia" A Roman school of philosophy, with both Immanuel and Judah at its head, also flourished, absorbing the works of Averroes and Maimonides, and adapting them to local social and cultural exigencies.
Therefore, the composition of hybrid texts appears not to be an aesthetics adopted only by this poet, but may represent the general cultural practice of medieval Italian Jews. The period of the so-called "golden age of Italian Jewish history" was also marked by increasing destabilization and rising tensions with the Christian society at large.
The Jews of Italy lived in general prosperity and Jewish communities spread to an increasing number of cities in the north such as Verona, Venice, and Rimini Colorni However, throughout the thirteenth century, a change in attitude occurred among the Dominican, and later, Franciscan, theologians. Now, an increasing number of mendicants began to define Talmudic Judaism as deviant from the Old Testament, and therefore, heretical.
Once determined to be a heresy, contemporary Judaism now fell under the authority of the Dominicans' Inquisition. While Immanuel was not directly involved with these mass conversions, he certainly was aware of them and of the tenuous position of his co-religionists. However, the poet was personally affected by later persecutions.
From to , the pope did not permanently reside in Rome, and therefore, the Jews lost protection there as well. Thus, Immanuel lived in a period of transformation from a time when the Jews were stigmatized and invisible to being visible and endangered.
In spite of this-or, perhaps, because of it-it was also a period in which Jewish and Hebrew culture flourished. From this very brief discussion, it should be clear that to view Immanuel strictly as an oppressed poet would be in error, as the citation from Bammer above suggests. There were a number of powerful Jews who had contact with Christian potentates, and Immanuel seems to have been among them. As we shall see, he was also able to engage the literary culture of the greater Italian society of the age to some degree.
At the same time, however, it is also clear that, as a Jew, he was not welcomed into the Christian community with open arms either. Rather, Immanuel, like most powerful Jews, occupied an ambivalent position in relationship to medieval society; he possessed awareness of the greater culture, and was granted some access to it, but held no authority to influence it nor to participate fully in it. It is in this complex sense that we should interpret him as a "marginalized" poet, and not in some two-dimensional image of a "victim.
As Homi Bhabha states about marginalized authors, "[tlhe social articulation of difference, from the minority perspective, is a complex, on-going negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities in moments of historical transformation" 2. At a time of increased Jewish visibility for good and for ill , Immanuel attempts to bridge the gap between the culture of the minority and that of the majority in his texts.
He blends together verse and strains of thought from many different learned traditions, thereby becoming symbolic of a perspective more universal than that which had been produced up until then in either community.
Because of this, he is neither fully within nor fully alien to both cultures, and his vernacular poetry often reflects this outlook. It must always be remembered that manuscripts formed the true basis of literary culture in the Middle Ages, and we must strive to situate our poet as accurately as possible in that context so as to assess his importance and influence on contemporaries. For while modern anthologies, listing only Immanuel's five vernacular poems, give the impression that he was a minor read: unimportant poet, it becomes immediately clear through reference to the original documents that he had an impact on major literary figures of the day.
However, this brief discussion illustrates the wider interactions found among poets of all types. More importantly, in addition to presenting his texts side-by-side with other important authors, the manuscripts present paratextual evidence which needs to be taken into account. For the sake of simplicity, only two manuscripts will be cited.
Die Mühlen des Herrn (E-Book-Edition ITALIEN) (German Edition)
However, all six of the the manuscripts present the same information about the poet.! To my mind, these appear to be the only examples of manuscript collections of vernacular literature, which ostensibly circulated solely among Christians, identifying an author as Jewish in the Italian Middle Ages. As Robert Bonfil states, the normal state of affairs between these two communities was silence: "the rule [. Besides identifying a member of an alienated group, these rubrics serve the function of guiding the medieval reader's interpretation of the lyrics.
Any reading of these verses would have been impacted by the awareness of the poet's religious status. Because of this, it would be helpful to examine briefly the Christian perception of the Jews in the late Middle Ages. It is possible, of course, that this term is adopted merely to identify a famous Jewish poet in a strictly neutral manner.
Immanuel had a large Hebrew corpus and the non-Jewish readership may have been familiar with his reputation.
Interpreting Primo Levi
However, since historians claim that the word "Jew" was a term bearing numerous negative connotations, and since Immanuel overtly appropriates those negative connotations in at least one of his sonnets, it appears valuable to discuss the ethnic stereotypes attached to Jews in the Middle Ages. Kenneth R. However, by the fourteenth century, the conceptualization of the Jew had changed from the spiritually blind to a deliberate unbeliever who knew the truth about Christ but refused to accept it Cohen, "The Jews as the Killers of Christ" 1. Thus, the rubrics do not only indicate the author of the verses, but also serve a marginalizing function.
A Christian reader probably would have known on some level to take his utterances with a grain of salt, as the poet was a discredited infidel. Whatever the intention of the person who applied these headings to the lyrics, the negative meanings associated with the word "Jew" were certainly present in the minds of many of the readers of these manuscripts. We should not assume, moreover, that this label was applied to him by Christian amanuenses against his wishes. For all we know, he may have attached it to himself when he circulated his verses.
Even the word's stereotyped meanings might have been self-imposed. Immanuel was a comic poet, and one common strategy in this school was the invention of an unreliable poetic persona entirely lacking authority. The poet may utilize the association of Jews with animals, sin, irrationality and the body as part of this approach, especially given the material and corporeal aesthetics of the jocose school of vernacular poetry.
Indeed, he embraces the perjorative image of the Jew, as shall be seen below. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating example of the triumph genre and worthy of its own in-depth study. Here, I want to focus instead on his four Italian sonnets. The first of these speaks sententiously about love personified as a cruel lord:. By citing commonplaces, the poet establishes the nature of Love as universal. So as to prove the veracity of his arguments, he then explains that he, too, suffers under Love's lordship.
At first glance, the sonnet appears to express a straightforward exposition, in which the poet's identity plays a small but vital role. A closer examination of it, however, demonstrates a more ambitious poetic strategy regarding his alienated conditions. The representation of Love as a cruel lord is a commonplace throughout medieval poetry.
By saying that Love never read the "Hail Mary" and that he respects neither faith nor law vv. In Dante's portrayal, Love describes himself according to the Augustinian conception of God: "Ego tanquam centrum circuli, cui simili modo se habent circumferentie partes [. To buttress his argument against this position, Immanuel apparently reiterates Guido Cavalcanti, defining Love as a heart which knows no measure.
Related Jeremy piace tanto (Italian Edition)
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