Michael Kenna


The ascent of Mont Ventoux
The ascent of Mont Ventoux is famous. On 26 April 1335, Petrarch, an intrepid early mountaineer, set off to climb Mont Ventoux (windy) to enjoy the view from the summit. His account was the first example in the European tradition of the observation of a landscape combined with moral and religious thoughts, on the Confessions of St. Augustine which the poet had slipped into his pack. Petrarch’s description of his amazement is a muted reference to what was to become one of the founding concepts of the Sublime.
"Today I made the ascent of the highest mountain in this region, which is not improperly called Ventosum. My only motive was the wish to see what so great an elevation had to offer. I have had the expedition in mind for many years; for, as you know, I have lived in this region from infancy, having been cast here by that fate which determines the affairs of men.Consequently the mountain, which is visible from a great distance, was ever before my eyes.... At first, owing to the unaccustomed quality of the air and the effect of the great sweep of view spread out before me, I stood like one dazed."
Pétrarque, "L'ascension du mont Ventoux" first translation by Victor Develay, Paris, Librairie des bibliophiles, 1880