Giordano Bruno and the Philosophy of the Ass - Ordine, Nuccio; Baranski, Henryk - Yale University Press

Giordano Bruno and the Philosophy of the Ass

  • Nuccio Ordine; Translated by Henryk Baranski in collaboration with Arielle Saiber
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Out of Print.

In this highly original study, Nuccio Ordine uses the figure of the ass as a lens through which to focus on the thought and writings of the great Renaissance humanist philosopher Giordano Bruno. The donkey played a prominent role as a symbol in sixteenth-century literature, and for Bruno the ass and human asininity became a recurring motif in his writings. Ordine offers the first analysis of Bruno's use of this complex symbol, which encompasses contradictory characteristics ranging from humble and hardworking to ignorant and idle. The result is a deeper understanding of Bruno the philosopher, along with a stronger appreciation of Bruno the literary artist.

Ordine looks especially closely at Bruno's use of the figure of the donkey in his attacks on the theologies of both the Reformation and the Counter Reformation, and in issues that have become modernist concerns. Ordine's analysis sheds light on each of the major themes of Bruno's philosophy: science and knowledge, myth and religion, language and literature.

Widely acclaimed when it was first published in Italian in 1987, Ordine's book is now available in English for the first time, bringing his intriguing insights to a new readership.

Nuccio Ordine is professor of the theory of literature at the University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy, and general editor of a new edition of Bruno's work. He has taught at Yale, Harvard, and New York Universities and is the author of Teoria della novella e teoria del riso nel Cinquecento (1996).