This essay examines images of violence in the first French sonnet sequence, Joachim Du Bellay’s Olive, alongside his protonationalist manifesto, the Deffence et illustration de la langue françoyse. Through the omnipresent imagery of violence that links these texts, Nazarian explores the wider political stakes of imitation in Du Bellay’s works. The Olive showcases French poetic and cultural superiority through bloody images of mutilation and consumption of Italian sources, reshaping Petrarchism into an attack on Italy as beloved. The sonnets and manifesto jointly target the Holy Roman Empire of Charles V through shared metaphors of imperial conquest, looting, and war.
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