On Leon Battista Alberti
His Literary and Aesthetic Theories
A penetrating study of Alberti's writings on philosophy, ethics, aesthetics architecture, and literature.
Listen to Alberti's voice. This is what Mark Jarzombek has done in studying virtually all of Alberti's writings on philosophy, ethics, aesthetics architecture, and literature. Jarzombek's thorough grasp of Alberti's thought and painstaking analysis of his elusive identity transform our image of this remarkable man carving out a new place for Alberti in literary theory, art history, and Renaissance scholarship.Instead of warming over the stereotypes of Alberti as a "universal man" or as a proponent of "civic Humanism," Jarzombek explores Alberti's views on the relationship between the writer and society. He asserts that, while Alberti was indeed an architect, an art theorist and a man of letters, he was above all a theoretician of writing: "Everywhere one turns, the problems of writing, authorship and textuality seem to appear, from his first writings... to his last." Jarzombek, opening the possibilities for a different type of discussion of Alberti and of such major works as De pictura and De re aedificatora, places Alberti more accurately within the context of his times and clarifies the intertextual relationship among his works. Jarzombek's investigation brings to light themes that have remained hidden in the complex world of Alberti's speculations. The Alberti of Jarzombeks book is an outsider struggling to resolve conflicting impulses of pessimism and hope. He is also a profound and willful thinker who, while amalgamating contemporary trends, did not endorse them but countered with a cosmological philosophy of his own.