For early modern authors, the meaning of invention lay between the classical world's omnipresent notion of imitation and what would later become Romantic ideals of genius and originality. In that sense, their era was a transitional phase, smoothing the passage from the classical notion of poetry as imitation to the understanding of literature as the product of the author’s creative imagination and original thought. Yet a great conceptual richness lay in this intermediate position, capturing many of the political, religious and social tensions of the Renaissance.
Rocío G. Sumillera is Associate Professor at the Universidad de Granada.
‘Distrust of the role of originality in Renaissance poesis often leads literary scholars to prioritize logico-rhetorical accounts of invention, which recommended writers to select their topics from authoritative discursive repertoires. Rocío G. Sumillera’s meticulous critical history of poetic invention up to Renaissance England is a persuasive caveat about our need to revise those notions.’ — Zenón Luis-Martínez, Parergon 38.1, 2021, 260-61 (full text online)
‘Taken together, Sumillera and Baron's books [Scarlett Baron, The Riddle of Creativity] cover literature and theory from Aristotle to the present. Each book reaches widely across European languages, combining science, theology and linguistics with conventional literary works. They look from opposite directions at the vanishing point that is the Romantic ideal of the artist as a lamp or organic entity, existing free from influence of any kind. The scope and ambition of the two projects is impressive. There is a great deal here to admire.’ — Bart van Es, Times Literary Supplement 11 December 2020
‘This is a wide-ranging and well-argued piece of work, with a comprehensive and useful bibliography. It makes an extremely valuable contribution to the study of a concept which must be at the heart of our understanding of literary composition in the Renaissance.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 57.1, 2021, 142 (full text online)
‘All in all, this is a detailed yet wide-ranging scholarly book that will serve students and scholars equally well. Although its focus is English Renaissance poetics, the breadth of reference to European sources gives this study a notable ballast and breadth. Sumillera is particularly adept at the selection and presentation of primary quotations, finding the perfect examples — and plenty of them — to illustrate her argument. This makes the book a great resource, as well as a pleasure to read.’ — Catherine Bates, Modern Language Review 117.2, 2022, 278-79 (full text online)
‘This much-needed book is a comprehensive and thoroughly researched chronological overview of the concept of the invention of topics (inventio) in poetry, as it was originally understood in classical rhetoric, that lies at the heart of Renaissance theories of imitation as individual composition.’ — Goran Stanivukovic, Renaissance and Reformation 44.4, Fall 2021, 311-13 (full text online)