India in the Italian Renaissance provides a systematic, chronological survey of early Italian representations of India and Indians from the late medieval period to the end of the 16th century, and their resonance within the cultural context of Renaissance Italy. The study focuses in particular on Italian attitudes towards the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent and questions how Renaissance Italians, schooled in the admiration of classical antiquity, responded to the challenge of this contemporary pagan world.
Meera Juncu draws from a wide-ranging selection of contemporary travel literature to trace the development of Italian ideas about Indians both before and after Vasco Da Gama’s landing in Calicut. After an introduction to the key concepts and a survey of inherited notions about India, the works of a diverse range of writers and editors, including Marco Polo, Petrarch and Giovanni Battista Ramusio, are analysed in detail. Through its discussion of these texts, this book examines whether ‘India’ came in any way to represent a pagan civilization comparable to the classical antiquity celebrated in Italy during the Renaissance.
India in the Italian Renaissance offers a new and exciting perspective on this fascinating period for students and scholars of the Italian Renaissance and the history of India.
List of illustrations 1 Changing representations of pagan Indians in Italian culture c.1300 to c.1600 2 Preconceptions of the Indians c.1300 3 Transformations of medieval Indian tradition in Marco Polo’s Il milione 4 A fourteenth-century religious view of the Indians: Odorico’s relatio and its re-presentation by Mandeville 5 Gymnosophists, gods and the Greeks: India among the humanists from Petrarch to Alberti 6 Novelty and humanity in Poggio Bracciolini’s representation of the Indians 7 India ‘recognita’? The fifteenth-century reception of Poggio’s portrayal of the Indians 8 Following Da Gama’s wake: Italian visions of ‘Portuguese’ India (c.1500-c.1514) 9 A new Ulysses’ Indians: the Itinerario of Ludovico de Varthema 10 A polyphony of modern voices: Ramusio’s contribution to understandings of Indians 11 Popularized Jesuit views 12 Late-sixteenth-century merchant perspectives Conclusion Index