Building Resemblance: Analogical Imagery in the Early French Renaissance
Resemblance, as featured in allegorical, analogical, and other figurative modes of expression, is often considered to be at the heart of discourse and understanding in the sixteenth century. Although this is undoubtedly true in Marsilio Ficino's Neoplatonism or Henry Cornelius Agrippa's occult philosophy, Michael Randall notes that difference also shows itself as an important element in many literary works of the early French Renaissance. In Building Resemblance, Randall examines the complex development of analogical imagery linking the imperfect human to the perfect divine in the poetry and prose of Jean Molinet and Jean Lemaire de Belges, two official historiographers working at the court of Burgundy, and in the novels of Fran& ccedil;ois Rabelais.
In many of these texts, human beings understand their world not only through its resemblance to an invisible ideal but also through empirical analysis of contingent phenomena. Randall identifies a movement from Molinet's works featuring a conflicted relationship of resemblance and difference to Lemaire's, in which resemblance flourishes, and finally to Rabelais's Quart Livre, in which the principle of difference triumphs. All of these works, he argues, bear witness to the struggle between the paradigm of resemblance and that of difference, which would come to characterize the discourse of the modern era. In its use of noncanonical authors such as Molinet and Lemaire and in its contextualization of these authors in the works of other little-known writers, Building Resemblance offers a compelling new portrait of French Renaissance literature.
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