As if looking into a mirror which reflects in turn another mirror, we look back from the present to the Renaissance and find the Renaissance looking back to its own past, to antiquity.
From the various perspectives of literature, art, philosophy and history, the contributors to this volume seek to capture this moment of double refraction whereby the past is revealed in the present.
Was Montaigne really a sceptic? Should Machiavelli be described as a pragmatist? Was antiquity itself an invention of the Renaissance? These and an array of other questions are addressed, forming a spectrum of topics at issue both then and now.
A number of essays look at Shakespeare: the trope of the heart in Hamlet, the gift of tennis balls in Henry V, the childbirth rituals in The Winter’s Tale. Iain Wright speculates upon the political and dramaturgical ramifications which the King’s Progress to Oxford in 1605 may have had for Shakespeare.
Others examine diverse topics such as the Renaissance obsession with time, the figure of the reclining female nude in art works of the era, and the revolutionary changes in how the nature of matter was perceived. Ralph Elliott explains how the combination of ‘inkhorn’ and ‘wordhoard’ terms brought about the unsurpassed flowering of the English language at this time.
Finally, the lens is turned back onto the present and our own search for a perspective upon this most fascinating era.