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By Constance M. Furey

Although the paradigm of modernist development has been challenged on many fronts, Erasmus and different sixteenth-century figures are nonetheless generally seen as those that led the transition from a spiritual center a while to a extra godless sleek period. through interpreting the lives, paintings, and correspondence of Erasmus, Thomas extra, Margaret extra Roper, Reginald Pole, Gasparo Contarini, and Vittoria Colonna, this ebook demonstrates how those Catholic women and men of letters created a particular type of spiritual group rooted in friendship and spiritualized scholarship.

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Extra resources for Contarini, and the Religious Republic of Letters

Sample text

Consider, for example, the character Magdalia. Erasmus modeled her after Margaret More Roper, a woman who was known among the literati not only as Thomas More’s well-educated daughter, but also as the translator of a work by Erasmus. Like Roper, her real-life counterpart, the fictional Magdalia is implicitly situated within a scholarly network. And she makes claims about how this community ought to look by arguing that scholarship is constitutive of emotional bonds with divine and human beings alike: “Bookishness,” she says, both brings her closer to other people – rendering her and her husband “dearer” to one another – and also prepares her for life after death.

Book II commences with a quite different discussion about life in Utopia. The work thus points beyond the very question it poses about the desirability of political P1: IKB 052184987Xc01 CB911 B/Furey 28 0 521 84987 X August 11, 2005 11:22 ERASMUS, CONTARINI, AND THE RELIGIOUS REPUBLIC OF LETTERS life. In doing so it reminds us that More’s own decision about being a courtier provoked him to seek a different sort of community in real life, just as he created one in his book. More’s interest in presenting Utopia to the scholarly community suggests a strong desire to associate himself with a social sphere distinct from court life.

Why,” Erasmus asked in a memorable fit of frustration, “do we mix up together things which are so conflicting? ”23 This is telling, because in a sense Erasmus and his friends were themselves destabilizing the existing structure of estates or social roles by insisting on the spiritual value of communities of friends and the work of pious scholarship done outside universities or monasteries. Unlike Erasmus, Thomas More was a husband and father who chose marriage over monasticism, but from within a patriarchal family structure he was engaged in the same process of rethinking the boundaries and nature of community.

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