Micro- and Macro-variation in Verse: A Typology of Romance Renaissance Meter

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During the Renaissance, a new meter spread across Europe and imposed itself as the main way of versification. Every poetic tradition adapted it in its own way and, even within Romance languages, the resulting new poetic forms varied considerably from each other. The aim of this paper is to make a typology of the Romance instantiations of Renaissance meter and to analyse the elements characterising metrical variation. A signifi- cant aspect of divergence among the poetic forms is related to their ten- dency towards an iambic rhythm. According to the literature, the main Romance forms can be divided into three groups in this respect: 1) purely syllabic poetry of the French tradition, 2) a meter tending towards iambic rhythm of Italian and Spanish endecasyllable (Nespor–Vogel 1986; Piera 1981; Gasparov 1987) and 3) the one tending towards syllabicity of Catalan and Portuguese decasyllable (Duffell 1994; Spaggiari 2003, respectively). I propose a quantitative approach to test and compare the degree of devi- ation from an iambic pattern as a way to verify this grouping and to answer the ongoing question about the iambic element of Renaissance meter. I do so by analysing 20 samples (130 lines for each author, ca. 2 authors per language) and calculating the percentage of stressed and unstressed syllables in each metrical position. The samples are from major languages, namely, Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese, and less investigated varieties, namely Occitan, Neapolitan, Sicilian and Venetian. A phonological account supports the findings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQuantitative Approaches to Versification
EditorsP. Plecháç, B. Scherr, T. Skulacheva, H. Bermúdez-Sabel, R. Kolár
PublisherAcademy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
ISBN (Electronic)978-80-88069-84-3
ISBN (Print)978-80-88069-83-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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