Off the Shelf: Deborah Parker

March 31, 2011 – Deborah Parker, professor of Italian, "Michelangelo and the Art of Letter Writing." Cambridge University Press.

Michelangelo's extant correspondence is the most abundant of any artist. Spanning 67 years, it comprises roughly 1,400 letters, of which 500 were written by Michelangelo himself. Biographers and art historians have combed the letters for insight into Michelangelo's views on art, his contractual obligations and his relationships. Literary scholars have explored parallels between the letters and Michelangelo's poetry.

This is the first book to study the letters for their intrinsically literary qualities. In this volume, Parker, a professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, examines Michelangelo's use of language as a means of understanding the creative process of this extraordinary artist. His letters often revel in witticisms, rhetorical flourishes and linguistic ingenuity. Close study of his mastery of words and modes of self-presentation shows Michelangelo to be a consummate artist who deploys the resources of language to considerable effect.

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