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Tony Grist

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Hypnerotomachia [Dec. 21st, 2004|11:20 am]
Tony Grist
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.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2004-12-21 03:41 pm (UTC)
i heard something along those lines-- that the boston accent in particular is theorized to be closer than modern english to the english pronunciation of the colonial period.

last may when i graduated college, my parents gave me this novel written by two princeton students called "the rule of four". it is about two students who try to "unravel the mysteries of the hypnerotomachia poliphili". i saw that and thought, ah! so that is where the LJ name comes from.

the novel, however, is somewhat terrible.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-21 04:58 pm (UTC)
I've just been to the Rule of Four website.

Apparently the puzzle of the Hypnerotomachia "has shattered careers, friendships and families.... at least one person has been killed for knowing too much."

Whoops....
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