Jakob Zeller

Narrativity and Landscape in the Works of Petrus Martyr Anglerius (1457-1526)

Petrus Martyr, an Italian humanist in Spanish service, left behind an extensive body of work, primarily - but not exclusively - in epistolary form. His main work, entitled De Orbe Novo Decades Octo - Eight Decades on the New World, contains descriptions of landscapes, as do his other prose writings, the Opus Epistolarum (correspondence amounting to 813 letters) and the Legatio Babylonica (account of his journey to Egypt in 1501). Interestingly, beautiful landscapes are usually found in the immediate vicinity of cities. The classical topos of the locus amoenus (the lovely place) comes into play here, sometimes in a modified form. In addition to these descriptions that interrupt the flow of the narrative, however, there are also landscapes that stand in the background of a dynamic movement through them. The landscape is then not at the center of a narrative, but forms its frame, so to speak. The aim of my investigation is not only to examine those rather static, descriptive text passages, but also to focus on the dynamic, narrative text sections. In doing so, the focus is not only on how landscapes were perceived and portrayed in literature and to what changes they were subject over time, but also on which literary models the scholar Petrus Martyr alluded to in each case.

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