Studia (neo)latina rediviva. Kilka uwag i postulatów odnośnie neolatynistyki

Michał Czerenkiewicz,

Wojciech Ryczek


Studia Neo(Latina) rediviva. A Few Remarks on and Postulates for Neo-Latin studies

The main aim of the paper is to present the major perspectives on some of the most important issues related to contemporary neo-Latin studies. Their status as an autonomous discipline independent from classical philology is still an object of many contemporary disputes and controversies among the philologists and historians of literature, philosophy (ideas) or culture. One promoter of neo-Latin studies in Poland, Maria Cytowska, claimed that these studies are a branch derived from classical philology and aimed at neo-Latin literature flourishing in Europe from the fourteenth century until nowadays. According to this view, strongly related to the estimation and hierarchisation of both disciplines, neo-Latin studies appear to be subordinated to their – metaphorically speaking– ‘older sister’, namely classical philology. The question concerning the perspectives in studies on neo-Latin texts is always involved in a much more complicated question about their disciplinary status and boundaries.

The Renaissance, or the initial period in the history of early modern Europe, also has great significance for the evolution of Latin. Humanists were interested in the rebirth of the stylistic models that they rediscovered in the books of ancient writers, especially Cicero, Vergil, Ovid, Horace, and Livy. As Ann Moss says, it was a Latin “language turn,” a kind of radical reorientation in thinking about Latin. The main object of their observations and interests was language in use, analysed in a wide context (grammatical, rhetorical, and logical) and applied to academic debates, religious polemics, and the art of interpretation. The philological activity of Renaissance humanists (editions, translations, and commentaries of ancient authors) is considered as the inauguration of neo-Latin culture.

Neo-Latin studies, both interdisciplinary and comparative, could be currently a great chance for the revival of classical philology, whose role and significance in the Polish educational system seems to be increasingly marginalised. There are three main fields of studies on neo-Latin literature: monographic researches on neo-Latin authors (e.g. Kochanowski, Szymonowic or Sarbiewski), critical editions of neo-Latin texts, and their translations from Latin into vernacular languages with appropriate commentaries. The studies mentioned above should be practised simultaneously, we believe, to give us a better and more comprehensive understanding of early modern culture in Europe.

This text discusses various possibilities for conducting research concentrated primarily on literary culture in early modern Europe. It brings consideration of issues such as: literary criticism in neo-Latin studies, various aspects of working on critical editions of texts written in Latin, translation studies associated with a variety of methodological approaches (hermeneutics, semiotics, structuralism, deconstruction, cultural studies), and competences – both linguistic and philological – of a perfect neo-Latinist. The paper is treated by its authors as a reference point for further discussions and investigations on neo-Latin culture in early modern Europe and one of its intrinsic parts, namely Poland.

Słowa kluczowe: neo-Latin studies, literary criticism, editing of neo-Latin texts, translation studies