From the Renaissance well into the eighteenth century hundreds of Latin poems, some running to tens of thousands of verses, were produced on subjects as multifarious as they were topical: meteorology and magnetism, raising chickens and children, the arts of sculpture and engraving, writing and conversation, the social and medicinal benefits of coffee and chocolate, the pious life and the urbane life. Loyola's Bees is the first full-length study of the Latin didactic poetry of the Society of Jesus, a Catholic Reformation order whose priests were the leading exponents of the genre in the early modern period. If post-Romantic readers have, in the main, lost the taste for a 'poetry of things', the poems in this book will command scholarly attention at least for what they reveal about early modern social, cultural, and intellectual life, Jesuit attitudes to the New World and the New Science, and the circulation of Latin literature in France and Italy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But modern readers will also be pleasantly surprised by their literary qualities.
Often elegant, witty, and for all their enthusiastic engagement with contemporary events and inventions, self-consciously 'classical' in form, Jesuit didactic poems are a treasure waiting to be discovered by students of the classical tradition. Loyola's Bees is no mere descriptive survey, however. Haskell sets out to resolve the paradox of the crack troops of early modern Catholicism devoting so much time to the composition of Latin verse of a secular orientation. Poems on a wide and disparate range of subjects are analysed from the unifying perspective of Jesuit ideology, and Haskell articulates the ways in which the Society's distinctive brand of humanist pedagogy, together with its apostolic (world-directed) spiritual ethos, determined both the specific forms and vigorous fortune of the Latin didactic genre in the early modern period.
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(242mm x 163mm x 26mm)
Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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