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19 August 2007 08:45

Home Page - Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

by borsky23 & 1 other
"The enigmatic, polyglot Hypnerotomachia Poliphili -- the inspiration for the bestselling novel The Rule of Four -- has fascinated architects and historians since its publication in 1499. Part fictional narrative and part scholarly treatise, richly illustrated with wood engravings, the book is an extreme case of erotic furor, aimed at everything -- especially architecture -- that the protagonist, Poliphilo, encounters in his quest for his beloved, Polia. Among the instances of the book's manifesto-like character is Polia's tirade defending the right of women to express their own sexuality, probably the first sustained argument of this type, which lifts the book's erotic theme from the realm of ribaldry to the more daring one of sexual politics. The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is one of the most unreadable books ever published. The first inkling of difficulty occurs at the moment one picks up the book and tries to utter its tongue-twisting, practically unpronounceable title. The difficulty only heightens as one flips through the pages and tries to decipher the strange, baffling, inscrutable prose, replete with recondite references, teeming with tortuous terminology, choked with pulsating, prolix, plethoric passages. Now in Tuscan, now in Latin, now in Greek –elsewhere in Hebrew, Arabic, Chaldean and hieroglyphs – the author has created a pandemonium of unruly sentences that demand the unrelenting skills of a prodigiously endowed polyglot in order to be understood. One of the woodcuts the reader comes across early in the book is of an unbridled winged steed, charging headlong at full gallop, ears drawn back, head twisted sideways, bucking the unlucky riders who try in vain to cling to its back and mane. The image might serve as an emblem for the whole work. At times even the most devoted reader cannot help feeling bewildered when looking down in this frenetic, fantastic specimen of whirling linguistic furore, hurling great semantic dust clouds into the air as it kicks and reels and pitches along on its impetuous course."

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last mark : 01/06/2008 19:50