Absract: We examine the traits and evolution of the vernacular epistolary genre in medieval Italy. A comparison with ancient epistles, on the one hand, and with Petrarch’s humanistic heritage, on the other, shows that the medi- eval letter was “private” and individual in nature as opposed to “public” ancient letters and “literary-individ- ualistic” Renaissance (or humanistic) correspondence. Analyzing the collections of letters of the 13 th -century poet Guittone d’Arezzo and the 14 th -century religious and public figures Giovanni dalle Celle, Giovanni Colombini and Catherine of Siena, as well as 14 th -century “commercial correspondence”, we describe the characteristic content and the linguistic and cultural aspects of this genre in the Middle Ages.
Keywords: epistolary genre, Guittone d’Arezzo, medieval religious literature, Catherine of Siena, medieval commercial correspondence.
Pages: 26–33
Author: Anna V. Toporova
Information about the author: Doctor of Philological Sciences, Leading Researcher at the A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the RAS, 25a Povarskaya St., Moscow, 121069, Russia anna.toporova@gmail.com

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