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The Renaissance Fascination with Error: Mannerism and Early Modern Poetry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

François Rigolot
Princeton University


Errors belong to all times, but they probably were never more often tracked down and evaluated, denounced and praised, prosecuted and gbrified, than in the highly cultured courts of the Renaissance and the politically militant circles of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. In an age when doctrinal errors were mercilessly chased by censors, several French mannerist poets, voluntarily misreading the Augustinian and Petrarchan tradition of the giovanile errore, carved out a playful space for enjoying the paradoxically aesthetic truthfulness of errors.

"If this be error, and upon me prov'd, / I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd. "

Shakespeare — Sonnet 116, lines 13-14

Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 2004

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