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Confessionalisation and Erudition in Early Modern EuropeAn Episode in the History of the Humanities$
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Nicholas Hardy and Dmitri Levitin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266601

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266601.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022

The Limits of Erudition

The Limits of Erudition

Daniello Bartoli SJ (1608–1685) and the Mission of Writing History

(p.218) 6 The Limits of Erudition
Confessionalisation and Erudition in Early Modern Europe

Simon Ditchfield

British Academy

This chapter uses the case study of the volume on the English mission in Daniello Bartoli’s unfinished, multi-volume Istoria della Comagnia di Giesu (1653–73) to examine whether or not a specifically Jesuit ‘way of proceeding’ can also be discerned in the Society’s history writing. It is argued that in order to understand the rhyme of Bartoli’s reason one needs to integrate his history writing with both his prior experience as a star preacher for the Society and as experienced teacher of rhetoric as well as with his wider interests in natural philosophy. By doing so, it is possible to understand better Bartoli’s intensely visual language as well as his command of such a ‘huge multiplicity of styles and almost distinct languages’ which so impressed Giacomo Leopardi (for whom Bartoli was ‘the Dante of baroque prose’) but which can make the Jesuit such a challenging read today. In the final analysis, notwithstanding his use of archival and manuscript evidence, Bartoli subordinated historical scholarship to rhetorical priorities in his mission both to celebrate his order’s achievement as well as to defend it from attack from within.

Keywords:   style, Jesuits, mission (to England), martyrdom, rhetoric, preaching, history writing, natural philosophy, variety, visual imagination

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