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Petrarch at the Peak of Fame

Lyell Asher
PMLA
Vol. 108, No. 5 (Oct., 1993), pp. 1050-1063
DOI: 10.2307/462985
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462985
Page Count: 14
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Petrarch at the Peak of Fame
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Abstract

In "The Ascent of Mont Ventoux," a letter to a former confessor, Petrarch famously admits to having ascended a peak for no other reason than to admire the view. As a failed conversion narrative, the letter is ultimately as gratuitous as the climb it recounts. Noting a number of similarities between climbing the mountain and composing the letter, I argue that the literal ascent he describes is a figure for his literary ascent, through this letter and other texts, to fame and notoriety. In condemning the climb, Petrarch figuratively condemns the letter, censuring what he does even as he does it.

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