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Renaissance Comedy - The Italian Masters Volume 1

Renaissance Comedy - The Italian Masters Volume 1

Edited with Introductions by DONALD BEECHER
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 416
  • Book Info
    Renaissance Comedy - The Italian Masters Volume 1
    Book Description:

    A rich and multi-faceted aspect of the Italian Renaissance, the comedy has been largely overlooked as a cultural force during the period. InRenaissance Comedy, editor Donald Beecher corrects this oversight with a collection of eleven comedies representative of the principal styles of writing that define the genre. Proceeding from early, 'erudite' imitations of Plautus and Terence to satires, sentimental plays of the middle years, and later, more experimental works, the development of Italian Renaissance comedy is here dissected in a fascinating and vivid light.

    This first of two volumes boasts five of the best-known plays of the period, each with its own historical and critical introduction. Also included is a general introduction by the editor, which discusses the features of Italian Renaissance comedy, as well as examines the stage histories of the plays and what little is known, in many cases, of the circumstances surrounding their original performances. The introduction raises questions concerning the nature of audiences, the festival occasions during which the plays were performed, and the academies which sponsored many of their creations.

    As a much-needed reappraisal of these comedic plays,Renaissance Comedyis an invaluable look at the performance history of the Renaissance and Italian culture in general.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8898-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Introduction: ‘Erudite’ Comedy in Renaissance Italy
    (pp. 3-36)
    Donald Beecher

    Despite the military invasions and the sobering influence of the Counter-Reformation upon the arts in sixteenth-century Italy, the spirit of the high Renaissance nevertheless prevailed in many of the urban centres. When times were propitious, theatrical spectacles of many kinds from thesacre rappresentazionito popular farces were assiduously cultivated. They were performed not only for festive tides such as Carnival and Epiphany, but for royal weddings and court receptions–with all the spectacle befitting affairs of state–not to mention dramatic entertainments in the grammar schools and confraternities, and in the learned academies, where, with alacrity, members debated the...

  4. The Pretenders A Prose Comedy
    (pp. 37-98)

    The greatest literary achievement of Ariosto’s career is without doubt his monumentalOrlando furioso,that vast panorama of chivalric adventures that occupied him as a writer from 1503 until its first publication in 1516. That Ariosto is far less known as a playwright may be due to the competition posed by his own great epic poem. Nevertheless, his plays–occasional creations though they were for the winter festivals of the Duke of Ferrara–established the model for all subsequent creations in the erudite mode of theatrical writing. Lodovico was born in 1474 in Reggio Emilia. His father was a court...

  5. Cortigiana 1525
    (pp. 99-204)

    Pietro Aretino, notorious and talented, the ‘scourge of princes’ and ‘secretary of the world’ was born in Arezzo in humble circumstances in 1492. His wanderings took him first to Perugia, then to Siena, and eventually to Rome where from 1517 he was employed by the vastly wealthy Agostino Chigi of Sienese banking fame. Through sheer impudence he acquired favour, and notably that of Pope Leo X. But that same impudence exercised at the time of Leo’s death in 1521 necessitated his first flight from the city. Aretino had maligned the man who was to win the papal election. When his...

  6. The Ragged Brothersi
    (pp. 205-280)

    Erudite comedy, for the most part, created a world of posturing and pretending, of tricks and identity changes, that distanced a play’s ‘reality’ from the more mundane and predictable conditions of everyday life. The language, mores, and settings were all familiar, to be sure, but the characters and situations belonged to a theatre that was notable for its artifice and improbability, a theatre in which conventions made steep demands. This is no less true of Caro’sGli straccioni(1543 ), translated here asThe Ragged Brothers,for it is a creation as full of adventurous improbabilities and stepped-up stage traffic...

  7. Alessandro A Prose Comedy
    (pp. 281-372)

    TheAlessandro(1543) is attributed to one of the leading spirits of the famous Academy of the Intronati in Siena, Alessandro Piccolomini. The basis for doubt is merely circumstantial insofar as at least one other of the Intronati plays,Gl’ingannati,appears to have been a group effort, in keeping with the collective and democratic spirit of the organization. Moreover, that their performances were presented to the ladies in the audience on behalf of all the gentlemen members makes creation by committee that much more appropriate. A favourite pose was to style the ladies in the audience as hard-hearted and the...

  8. The Sister
    (pp. 373-460)

    Giambattista Della Porta was a Neapolitan born and raised, the second of three sons, all of whom would distinguish themselves in academic circles. Giambattista, however, was destined to outshine the others as one of the most innovative intellectuals of the second half of the sixteenth century.

    His birthdate is approximate, fixed at 1535, and the exact circumstances of his education can only be guessed at. Clearly, he was both brilliant and nurtured. His work on natural magic and physiognomy would gain for him not only renown, but the attention of the Inquisition, to which he was obliged to give numerous...