November 07, 2005

Laura, Beatrice, Regina, Sylvia

Laura was the love of Petrarch's life. For her he perfected the sonnet and wrote the Canzoniere. Who Laura was and even if she really existed is a bit of a mystery. It has often been believed that the name "Laura" was a play on the name "laurel" the leaves which Petrarch was honoured with for being the poet laureate. However, there is a lot of evidence to show that Laura really did exist and that she was Laure de Noves. Falling in love at first sight, Petrarch (1304-1374) would be haunted by her beauty for the rest of his life. Already being married she would turn down all advanced he made toward her. Although he wrote the Canzoniere, a series of poems mostly about Laura and his love for her, she is absent from even being mentioned in his letters. If she was real, it is unknown if they ever spoke, or if she ever knew of his feelings for her.
Already Dante (1265-1321) had written his first book, the "Vita Nuova", or "New Life", an exquisite medley of lyrical verse and poetic prose, telling the story of his love for Beatrice, whom he had first seen at the end of his ninth year. Beatrice, who was probably the daughter of Folco Portinari, and wife of Simone de' Bardi, died in June, 1290, and the "Vita Nuova" was completed about the year 1294. Dante's love for her was purely spiritual and mystical, the amor amicitiae defined by St. Thomas Aquinas: "That which is loved in love of friendship is loved simply and for its own sake". The book is dedicated to the Florentine poet, Guido Cavalcanti, whom Dante calls "the first of my friends", and ends with the promise of writing concerning Beatrice "what has never before been written of any woman". The "Divina Commedia" is an allegory of human life. Beatrice, representing Divine philosophy illuminated by revelation, leads him thence, up through the nine moving heavens of intellectual preparation, into the true paradise, the spaceless and timeless empyrean, in which the blessedness of eternal life is found in the fruition of the sight of God.
Regina Olsen, The Sacrifice of Love: In 1840, just before he enrolled at the Pastoral Seminary, Kierkegaard became engaged to Regina Olsen. This engagement was to form the basis of a great literary love story, propagated by Kierkegaard through his published writings and his journals. It also provided an occasion for Kierkegaard to define himself further as an outsider. But when it came to the crunch, it seemed sufficient to make him break off the engagement . Thereafter, Kierkegaard frequently used marriage as a trope for "the universal" - especially for the universal demands made by social mores. Correlatively, becoming an "exception" was both a task and constantly in need of justification. The tortuous dialectic of universal and exception, worked out in terms of the sacrifices of love, subsequently informs much of Either/Or, Repetition, Fear and Trembling, Prefaces, and Stages on Life’s Way. A frequent foil for the trope of marriage as the universal is the figure of a young man "poeticized" by a broken engagement, who thereby becomes "an exception."
As Philip Kemp points out, there has been some debate as to how "unfinished" the forty-odd minutes of Partie de Campagne actually are. Certainly the original intention on Renoir's part was to adapt Maupassant's original short story into a short feature film no longer than sixty minutes, with one of the main impetuses being the opportunity to work again with the 24-year-old Sylvia Bataille (at the time wife of Georges Bataille, future wife of Jacques Lacan) who had made such an impression in Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936). (That aspect of the film is a total success, as Bataille's performance is simply luminous.) By Ian Johnston

No comments:

Post a comment