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Ugo Foscolo's Tragic Vision in Italy and England

Ugo Foscolo's Tragic Vision in Italy and England

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 232
  • Book Info
    Ugo Foscolo's Tragic Vision in Italy and England
    Book Description:

    Ugo Foscolo's Tragic Vision in Italy and Englandexamines an underexplored aspect of Foscolo's literary career: his tragic plays and critical essays on that genre.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1983-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chronology of Ugo Foscolo’s Life and Works
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction: Ugo Foscolo’s Tragic Vision
    (pp. 3-9)

    Ugo Foscolo (born on Zakynthos, 1778; died at Turnham Green, London, 1827), one of Italy’s most celebrated figures, found himself at the home of his dear friend Giambattista Giovio (1748–1814) in Como at the end of August 1813.¹ He was fortunate to arrive in Como precisely when the town’s newest architectural marvel, the Teatro Sociale, opened on Saturday, 28 August. Perhaps he was moved by the excitement of the opening, or even more likely, by the public reaction to the newest building in town. Whatever the case, Foscolo wrote a curious and seemingly random article about the architecture of...

  6. Chapter One Setting the Stage
    (pp. 10-24)

    Ugo Foscolo’s place in the pantheon of Italian literature as a tragedian must be contextualized. It cannot be accurately presented or appreciated without an explanation of the leading Italian literary theories and practices almost a century prior to Foscolo’s contributions. The literary scene at the turn of the eighteenth century was highly contentious, and Italian literature often found itself to be the object of ridicule and scorn. French intellectuals began harshly attacking Italian poets of the Seicento for their lacklustre eloquence, lavish descriptions, and extravagant conceits. Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636–1711), René Rapin (1621–78), and Dominique Bouhours (1628–1702) led...

  7. Chapter Two Debut, Acclaim, and Instruction
    (pp. 25-46)

    Foscolo’s appreciation of classical literature and his desire to contribute to the field of Italian tragedy can be traced back to the earliest stages of his career. On 30 October 1795, the aspiring seventeen-year-old author explained to Cesarotti how he dared to retell the very same story that Crébillon and the great Voltaire had once recounted – that of Thyestes.¹ The aspiring tragedian left no record of his progress towards completing his first tragedy aside from this initial letter to Cesarotti. He listedTiestein the second section of his 1796Piano di studi, however, so it appears that he...

  8. Chapter Three The Rise and Fall of Ajace
    (pp. 47-70)

    Foscolo returned to composing tragedies following his brief tenure at the University of Pavia. He agreed to write a new work on 18 July 1809 for Salvatore Fabbrichesi (1760–1827), director of the Compagnia dei Commedianti ordinari di S.M.I. e R.¹ Foscolo initially selected the Ovidian fable of Byblis and Caunus (Metamorphoses, 9, 441–665) as his subject, but he was slow to compose any verses. He abandoned the idea when his friend Antonio Gasparinetti decided to base his new tragedy on the same tale. Foscolo also toyed with the idea of composing a tragedy on Oedipus, but once again,...

  9. Chapter Four Ricciarda in Italy and in England
    (pp. 71-97)

    Foscolo wrote to Isabella Teotochi Albrizzi on 29 July 1812 to announce his plans for a new tragedy. He explained that he had already begun his new work with much fervour and it was “all about love.” He also lamented that he needed to set it aside because he had “a thousand things” in his heart, “but absolutely nothing” in his brain.¹ Indeed, the change of subject and setting did not make writing the new tragedy any easier for Foscolo. He began writing in September 1812, but was repeatedly interrupted with unforeseen delays and health problems. Foscolo wrote to Cornelia...

  10. Chapter Five Curtain Call from Exile
    (pp. 98-111)

    The Italian tragedy continued to be a “hot topic” in England following the publication of Foscolo’s “Essay” andRicciarda.¹ The Reverend Henry Hart Milman (1791–1868) published a widely read article entitled “Italian Tragedy” in the October 1820 issue of theQuarterly Review.² The article consists of a general history of the Italian tragedy and a review of three recent tragedies – Alessandro Manzoni’s 1820Il Conte di Carmagnola, Foscolo’s 1813Ricciarda, and Silvio Pellico’s 1815Francesca da Rimini. In general, Milman strongly agreed with Foscolo’s previously stated opinions on the genre in the “Essay.” This should not be surprising;...

  11. Epilogue
    (pp. 112-116)

    The final years of Ugo Foscolo’s life were marked by dramatic emotional highs and lows. He experienced immense joy with his estranged daughter, Floriana, who entered into his life in 1821, following the death of her maternal grandmother, with whom she lived. The father and daughter lived together in Foscolo’s custom-designed home, “Digamma Cottage,” in Regent’s Park. His lavish tastes and expenditures provided brief moments of pleasure. But this new-found happiness was short lived, when in 1824 Foscolo and Floriana were forced to leave the villa due to his outrageous debts. Foscolo lived beyond his means and was forced to...

  12. Appendix: Original Reviews of Ajace
    (pp. 117-138)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 139-190)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 191-204)
  15. Index
    (pp. 205-218)