Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The fame of Michelangelo Buonarroti as a painter and a sculptor far outdistances his reputation as a poet. This is unfortunate, for while it is open to question whether Michelangelo could have ever developed into a poet of a stature equivalent to his stature in the plastic arts, his reputation as a poet is less than it should be. Modern critics have discovered that he is an important Renaissance Italian poet, and he is considered by many the best Italian lyric poet of the sixteenth century.
The reasons for the slow growth of Michelangelo’s poetic reputation are easy to identify. First, even in his own day, while his poetry was extravagantly praised by a circle of friends, it was Michelangelo’s painting and sculpture that drew the eyes of the world at large. Moreover, his poetry was not published until 1623, fifty-nine years after his death, and then only in an incomplete, much-edited, and censored edition. By that time the Renaissance style of writing was being replaced by the neoclassical style throughout Europe, and the poems did not attract major attention. It was not until the early nineteenth century, when the Romantics were rediscovering the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, that complete and well-edited editions of the poetry began to appear. Only in the twentieth century were completely authoritative editions published.
Even Michelangelo never took his poetry seriously enough to collect, revise, or preserve the whole of it. While he...
(The entire section is 1900 words.)
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