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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: poliphilo
2004-12-21 04:34 pm (UTC)
It's the same Latin root as in polygamy; it means "many" or something like that.

So Polia is "the many" and Poliphilo is "lover of the many". Polia is an allegorical figure, but may well have been a real person as well. There's a theory she was a nun.
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