The now-forgotten genre of the bellum grammaticale flourished in the sixteenth- and seventeenth centuries as a means of satirizing outmoded cultural institutions and promoting new methods of instruction. In light of works written in Renaissance Italy, ancien régime France, and baroque Germany (Andrea Guarna's Bellum Grammaticale , Antoine Furetière's Nouvelle allégorique , and Justus Georg Schottelius' Horrendum Bellum Grammaticale ), this study explores early modern representations of language as war. While often playful in form and intent, the texts examined address serious issues of enduring relevance: the relationship between tradition and innovation, the power of language to divide and unite peoples, and canon-formation. Moreover, the author contends, the "language wars" illuminate the shift from a Latin-based understanding of learning to the acceptance of vernacular erudition and the emergence of national literature.
'This book is a formidable introduction to a crucial, yet neglected early modern genre: the bellum grammaticale, the language (or grammatical) war, a spirited and often bloody allegorical depiction of the battle between parts of speech, genres, and elements of rhetoric for primacy in language… a useful and insightful introduction to the Latin bellum grammaticale and its early vernacular permutations. It is a valuable scholarly addition to libraries on Neo-Latin, humanism, and the emergence of vernacular literatures.' Renaissance Quarterly '… impressively argued with a wide range of references…' Modern Language Review '… Butler has elucidated an overlooked but significant story and, at the same time, stimulates research in the role of grammar in the development of literary expression… this study produces substantial rewards…' Sixteenth Century Studies
Contents: Introduction; Civil war in the Republic of Letters; Frontiers and first causes: humanism, Renaissance, Reformation and the language war; The language war and absolutist eloquence; Greatness lost and regained: dialectic of the German language war; Conclusion: fighting words and the liberal arts; Bibliography; Index.