Furor poeticus is a modern name for an ancient idea. In his extant fragments, Democritus claims that the poet writes by divine inspiration (fr. 17) and that Homer's greatness is due to his godlike nature (fr. 21). But the great systematiser of this doctrine is undoubtedly Plato, in dialogues such as the Phaedrus, The Laws and, above all, the Ion: the poet's art cannot be explained by craftsmanship, but by a divine rapture of which the poet remains ignorant. This notion had a long history in Antiquity, and is reformulated in the works of Cicero, Horatius, Seneca or Statius, among others. In the Middle Ages, furor poeticus was easily assimilated into Christian categories, leading to the ideology of the poet as a "scriba Dei" in authors such as Alain de Lille or Dante Alighieri.
With the revival of Neoplatonism in Western Europe, the humanists of the fifteenth century took up the teachings of Plato and adapted them to the needs of their own time. Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni and other representatives of Florentine civic humanism provided the first modern reception of the idea, using Cicero and Isidore of Seville as primary sources. It was Marsilio Ficino, translator and commentator on the Ion, who gave the concept its modern form. In his 1457 epistle De Divino Furore and in his treatise on Theologia Platonica (1482), Ficino identifies four types of divine inspiration ("furor divinus"), one of which is "furor poeticus": the divine power that possesses true literary creators. Ficino's followers, such as Poliziano or Landino, adopted the Platonic concept, but also raised the old problem of whether inspiration (ingenium) alone was sufficient, or whether it had to be combined with a mastery of poetic craftsmanship (ars).
The edited volume (under negotiation with a top international publisher) seeks to explore the afterlife of this poetological idea in modern literature and poetics in the broadest sense from sixteenth century to the present.
The edited volume invites essays on the following themes but is not limited to:
-Furor poeticus in the Renaissance and beyond: Ludovico Ariosto, Giordano Bruno, Marco Girolamo Vida, George Chapman, George Puttenham, John of the Cross and the mystics, the poets of La Pléiade… What are the links of these authors with Neoplatonism, Orphism, Christianity and other religions or spiritual movements?
-In eighteenth-century aesthetics, the concept of genius seems to take the place traditionally occupied by furor poeticus: Lord Shaftesbury, Edmund Burke, Edward Young, William Duff, Immanuel Kant...
-The Romantic appropriation of the idea of furor poeticus in authors such as Hölderlin, Hamann, Coleridge, Blake, De Quincey. Divine rapture turns into personal madness.
-Secularisations of furor poeticus from the nineteenth century onwards: Schopenhauer interprets it as a mental illness and Freud as adult daydreams that replace child's play.
-Presences of furor poeticus in contemporary literary theory: Harold Bloom's concept of "influence" or Angus Fletcher's concept of "allegory".
-Reception and transformation of the idea in contemporary writers: Antonin Artaud, Ted Hughes, Anne Sexton, Leopoldo María Panero… Comparative approaches are also welcome.
Please submit your proposal title and a 600-800 words abstract together with a short CV including current affiliation, academic position, ORCID and main publications. All essays, written in English, must be original and unpublished.
Abstracts should be emailed by 15 March 2024 to email@example.com.