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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

v

In the fifth chapter of I promessi sposi Padre Cristoforo visits don Rodrigo's house. Rodrigo makes him seat down and drink wine with the other guests. There is a debate about the principle of "ambasciator non porta pena" [don't punish the messanger]. A messenger from a nobleman has been beaten with a stick at the house of another nobleman. Cristoforo has been asked to judge this case, or to settle the debate among Rodrigo's guests. He doesn't want to, but finally says: "neither messages, nor messengers, nor sticks." There is some debate about differences between sacred and profane realms, since Cristoforo is both a cleric and, in his previous life, a uomo of the mondo [man of the world]. Finally, there is a toast to the Conde Duque de Olivares, from which Cristoforo pointedly abstains. Then Rodrigo takes him into the other room to talk.

Once again, the entire novel seems to revolve around relations of power. Now the idea is the difference between codes: religious and secular, the code of noble conduct vs. everyday rules for others. Now the digression in the last chapter about Cristoforo's past life makes more sense.

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