25 January 2009

Canto IX

This one, again, has a single focus, on the exploits and achievements of Sigismundo. There's a good deal about (apparently) inter-state wars in Italy and Sigismondo's role in them. It's remarkably straightforward, or at least seems that way after some of what's gone before. You couldn't use this canto to write a biography of Sigismundo or a history of renaissance Italy, but if you knew about those things, it would illustrate quite powerfully the more basic story.

There's an interesting use of a jarring modern register in some of the language:
And the Venetians sent down an ambassador
And said "speak humanely,
But tell him it's no time for raising his pay."
And the Venetians sent down an ambassador
with three pages of secret instructions
To the effect: Did he think the campaign was a joy-ride?

And those letters, translated or invented, that I mentioned in the previous canto. They come in a section where Sigismundo's post-bag is stolen: the letters are among those taken from it. They again are an illustration rather than a narrative; some are chatty, some are businesslike.

One piece of narrative that is emerging from this and the previous canto is that Sigismundo built a temple 'full of pagan works'. I've a feeling we'll hear more of this.

Another fairly short comment on a fairly long canto, because again the writing is fairly transparent. Canto X looks similar. I'm quite enjoying this at the moment!

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