The Poetics of Imitation in the Italian Theatre of the Renaissance

The Poetics of Imitation in the Italian Theatre of the Renaissance

SALVATORE DI MARIA
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt5hjv05
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  • Book Info
    The Poetics of Imitation in the Italian Theatre of the Renaissance
    Book Description:

    DiMaria delves into how playwrights not only brought inventive new dramaturgical methods to the genre, but also incorporated significant aspects of the morals and aesthetic preferences familiar to contemporary spectators into their works.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6733-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Chapter One Imitation: The Link between Past and Present
    (pp. 3-25)

    This book builds on the premise that imitation is a means through which the present turns to the past for guidance and inspiration. As prevailing beliefs and value systems fail to provide adequate solutions to rising exigencies, society tends to look upon old models for lessons and suggestions on how to meet the new challenges. After all, as Machiavelli points out in hisDiscourses, men of wisdom remind us that all new things have their point of reference in the things of the ancient past.¹ This was the case in Renaissance Italy as it looked for a form of worldly...

  5. Chapter Two Machiavelliʹs Mandragola
    (pp. 26-44)

    MachiavelliʹsMandragolais considered one of the best comedies of the Italian Renaissance and, arguably, the most successful imitation of prose narrative. We do not know exactly when it was written, but most scholars agree that it was composed either in 1518, on the occasion of Lorenzo deʹ Mediciʹs wedding with Madeleine de la Tour, or the following year.¹ We know from contemporary sources that it was received enthusiastically in several Italian cities. Giovio reported that the 1520 performance in Rome provoked great laughter even among the most sober of spectators (ʺvel in tristibus risum excitavisʺ). Marin Sanudo recorded in...

  6. Chapter Three Clizia: From Stage to Stage
    (pp. 45-63)

    Machiavelli wroteCliziain a hurry (early January 1525) and perhaps on request to celebrate the return of his friend Jacopo di Filippo Falconetti from exile. It was first performed at Falconettiʹs house on the thirteenth of the same month with music by Philippe Verdelot and scenes by Sebastiano Sangallo, the same Sangallo who had designed the scenery forMandragola. The representation earned the play immediate and widespread success, as attested to in a letter Filippo Neri wrote to his friend Machiavelli a month later. Neri emphasized that he had heard of the great performance not through letters from enthusiastic...

  7. Chapter Four Cecchiʹs Assiuolo: An Apian Imitation
    (pp. 64-83)

    Giovan Maria Cecchi (1518–87) is perhaps the most prolific playwright of the Italian Renaissance. He wrote dozens of comedies and religious plays, all in a language punctuated with colourful sayings of his native Tuscany.¹ Fellow playwright Grazzini grumbled sardonically that for the Florentines, especially the women, Cecchi had eclipsed most of his fellow dramatists, including Grazzini himself.² Though popular with the theatre audiences of his time, Cecchiʹs work did not exhibit exceptional theatrical qualities that might have won him lasting approval among literary critics. Most of his plays, as he readily admits in some of his prologues, are largely...

  8. Chapter Five Grotoʹs Emilia: Fiction Meets Reality
    (pp. 84-104)

    Luigi Groto (1541–85), the blind man from Adria, a city in the Veneto region, made his reputation as a dramatist withAdriana(1578). The play has enjoyed considerable critical attention and has been included in several collections of Renaissance tragedies. His earlier tragedyDalila(1572), though reprinted, is yet to be edited, and scholars mention it only to make passing references to its plot. Although Groto considered himself more suited to writing tragedies because of his gloomy outlook on life, due mostly to his blindness, he wrote three comedies:Emilia(1579),Il Thesoro(1580), andAlteria(1584).¹ All three...

  9. Chapter Six Gli duoi fratelli rivali: Della Porta Adapts Bandelloʹs Prose Narrative to the Stage
    (pp. 105-127)

    Giambattista Della Porta (1535?–1615) was a true Renaissance man, interested in a wide variety of subjects including magic, science, and dramatic literature. Born to an aristocratic family from Vico Equense on the Sorrentine peninsula, he received an excellent education, mostly from the renowned scholars who frequented his fatherʹs household. He caught the attention of the European learned community with the publication of hisMagiae naturalis(1558–84), a compendium of scientific experiments and speculations ranging from agriculture to astrology, cryptography, demonology, divination, medicine, optics, occult philosophy, and transmutation of metals. The study was an immediate success and was soon...

  10. Chapter Seven Orbecche: Giraldiʹs Imitation of His Own Prose Narrative
    (pp. 128-147)

    The choice of GiraldiʹsOrbeccheas the focus of the ensuing discussion is particularly appropriate for two reasons. First, the play inaugurates a new era for the tragic genre; second, it is a unique example of a playwright adapting one of his own short stories for the stage. It was the firsttragedia regolare, written according to the neoclassical rules, to be represented on a modern stage (1541). The performance revived a long-lost theatrical tradition and met with great success both with theatre audiences and with fellow playwrights.¹ It encouraged the writing of tragedies in the manner of Seneca –...

  11. Chapter Eight Dolceʹs Marianna: From History to the Stage
    (pp. 148-166)

    Lodovico Dolce (1508–68) was one of the most active and encyclopedic writers of the Italian Renaissance. He wrote on gems, language, love, marriage, memory, painting, philosophy, and women. He also authored biographies, chivalric poems, and dramas. According to Ronnie Terpening, he produced ʺmore than a hundred volumes bearing his name, whether as author, editor, translator or critic – a writer who had gained, in his own century, universal renownʺ (3). His prolific production notwithstanding, his literary reputation rests mostly on his theatrical works, consisting of five comedies and a great number of translations, adaptations, and modernizations orrifacimentiof...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 167-172)

    All serious discussions about the Italian Renaissance theatre must begin with the classical stage of Greece and Rome. Playwrights took their inspiration from this tradition by first performing, translating, and finally imitating it. In the first phase, Italian humanists learned to appreciate the genre by studying and performing Latin plays. Their enthusiasm was soon shared by a larger section of society ever eager to attend performances or readings of classical plays in Italian translation. Audiences felt privileged to have the unique opportunity to attend stage representations of the great masters of the ancient world. Growing public interest encouraged authors to...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 173-198)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-212)
  15. Index
    (pp. 213-222)