Friday, February 04, 2005

The literature of the fantastic - out of the dark ages

In Which It Is Shown That All Human Things Are But A Dream | Metafilter

Metafilter has a link filled post featuring the "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili", a novel of the fantastic thought to have been published in 1499. When I read things like this, I wonder too about what has not survived. One wonders what this author would make of our world. From one of the links:
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, with its unpronounceable title, indecipherable text, and unidentifiable author, is one of the most puzzling, enigmatic and fascinating books ever conceived. Since its publication (1499), it has surprised its readers with its vast knowledge of architecture and landscape and garden design, but also engineering, painting and sculpture. Part fictional narrative, and part scholarly treatise, the book is, in addition, an extreme expression of erotic furore, aimed at everything, especially architecture, that the protagonist Poliphilo encounters in his quest for his beloved Polia, whose name translated from the Greek as meaning "many things." The book is also a political manifesto defending the right of women to express their own sexuality and the superiority of Eros, beauty and knowledge over aggression and war. Liane Lefaivre, in her Leon Battista Alberti’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, is the first to attribute this strange, dreamlike manifesto in defense of humanism to Leon Battista Albert.

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