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Chapter 1 - Allegories of Love

Affect and the Art of Memory in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

from Part I - Ars memoriae, ars amatoria

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2023

Jonathan Baldo
Affiliation:
University of Rochester, New York
Isabel Karremann
Affiliation:
University of Zurich
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Summary

The intimate relationship between affect and the art of memory lies at the heart of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, this chapter argues, represented as a Platonic (and anti-Platonic) allegory of love. The art of memory – a colloquial term for an art or method that goes by many names, including artificial memory, the architectural mnemonic, and locational memory – is more than a rhetorical method of memorization, as traditionally understood. The origin story of the art of memory, its discovery by a poet who remembers a ruined edifice and the dead therein, instead suggests that this art was first and foremost a strategy of artistic creation: a poetics, as will be shown, whose affective power – the emotional force that makes it memorable by marking and moving both mind and body – derives paradigmatically from memories of love and stories about it. The ars memorativa meets the ars amatoria, the psyche and poetics, in Shakespeare’s Sonnets as throughout the poetic tradition that he remembers anew in metapoetic fashion.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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