||[Dec. 21st, 2004|11:20 am]
I thought I'd explain my name.|
Poliphilo is the narrator of the trippy Italian "novel" Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, first published in 1499. He goes through the Dantean dark wood experience and comes out in a Greco-Roman Wonderland, surrounded by fabulous architecture and beset by nymphs. He wanders around (describing everything in mind-cudgeling detail) looking for his girlfriend Polia.
I started the book 18 months ago and have just about reached the halfway mark. I can only take a page or two at a time. Any more and the circuits over-load.
It's clotted, it's encrusted, it's infuriatingly slow and repetitive, and it's the happiest book I know. It encapsulates one of the great turning points of Western civilization. We've stepped out of the Middle Ages (the author, Francesco Colonna, was a Dominican friar) into the brightness and width and far-distances of the Renaissance.
The Past was being kept from us and we've only just found out how wonderful it was and now anything, but anything, seems possible.