A fresh English translation of five Alberti works that illuminate new aspects of the literary aims and development of the first “Renaissance man.”
Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) was one of the most famous figures of the Italian Renaissance. His extraordinary range of abilities as a writer, architect, art theorist, and even athlete earned him the controversial title of the first “Renaissance man.”
The works collected in Biographical and Autobiographical Writings reflect Alberti’s lived experiences and his interests in the genre. This volume includes On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Literature, which partly reflects his experiences as a student in Bologna; The Life of St. Potitus, the biography of a Christian martyr, which also contains autobiographical projections and was to have been the first in a series of lives of saints; My Dog, a mock funeral oration for his dead dog; My Life, one of the first autobiographies of the early modern period and the main source for Jacob Burckhardt’s portrait of Alberti; and a comic encomium, The Fly. In particular, the last three works—My Dog, My Life, and The Fly—constitute a kind of trilogy, as the humanist finds one of his main themes, the portrait of the ideal life, with a strong emphasis on humor.
This edition presents the first collected English translations of these works alongside an authoritative Latin text.