Welcome to the Petrarch Project

Welcome to the Oregon Petrarch Open Book Project: "Petrarch is again in sight." In a poem dedicated to Osip Mandelstam, a Russian poet who disappeared in Stalin's Gulag, Paul Celan speaks of a petrified desert where it is still possible to see a rudimentary form that leads him to conclude: "Petrarch is again in sight."

Paul Celan, the poet survivor of the Shoah, might not have known that Osip Mandelstam had translated four sonnets from the Petrarch's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, adapting them to his poetic persona. However, it is not by chance that two of the great poets of the twentieth century turn to Petrarch to suggest and recuperate an idea of poetry in times when it is most neglected.

The OPOB promotes the idea of Petrarch's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta as an "open," "living" book that "grows" with its readers. Today's digital technology makes it possible to implement in new ways this idea that Gregorius Magnus and ancient Christian hermeneutics first associated with the Bible. We present the Rerum vulgarium fragmenta as a text that can be read and studied as a continuous work in progress.

The website includes different versions of Petrarch's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta—variants of individual poems, translations, rewritings, adaptations and commentaries—providing multiple texts and multiple ways of looking at the original source materials. This allows for pedagogical, technical, and research-related innovation.

We solicit worldwide contributions from scholars and students of Petrarch's Rerum vulgarium fragmenta. Our project can be successful only if it can capture the authentic spirit of Petrarch's cosmopolitan intellectual activity.

University of Oregon

National Endowment for the Humanities logo