The Arthur of the Italians

The Arthur of the Italians: The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Italian Literature and Culture

Gloria Allaire
F. Regina Psaki
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qhcs7
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Arthur of the Italians
    Book Description:

    The Arthurian legend in medieval and Renaissance Italy is the focus of this new collaborative history.

    eISBN: 978-1-78316-051-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
    Ad Putter
  4. THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. INTRODUCTION: THE ARTHUR OF THE ITALIANS
    (pp. 1-8)
    F. Regina Psaki

    The Arthurian material produced in the Italian peninsula has long been something of an object of benign neglect for Anglophone specialists of both continental romance and Italian literature. Certainly broad panoramic works such as Roger Sherman Loomis’sArthurian Literature in the Middle Ages: A Collaborative Historyand Norris J. Lacy’sThe New Arthurian Encyclopediahave included Italian material, and Arthurianists such as Christopher Kleinhenz and Donald Hoffman have given sustained attention to the Italian repertoire.¹ Yet measured against the great romances in French verse and prose on the one hand, and against the great monuments of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio...

  7. Part One France and Italy

    • 1 ARTHURIANA IN THE ITALIAN REGIONS OF MEDIEVAL FRANCOPHONIA
      (pp. 11-20)
      Keith Busby

      Medieval Francophonia is a term I use to denote the various regions of Europe where thelangue d’oïlwas in use as a language of social, administrative, legal and literary discourse, beginning in the aftermath of the landing of William I of Normandy at ‘Francophonia’, of course, is replete with implications in academic circles, as modern ‘Francophone literature’ has become a fashionable area within French departments and its growth has gone hand in hand with the rise of colonial and postcolonial studies.¹ Here is not the place for an extended exposé of the parallels between the medieval and modern notions,...

    • 2 FRENCH REDACTIONS IN ITALY: RUSTICHELLO DA PISA
      (pp. 21-40)
      Fabrizio Cigni

      The name of Rustichello da Pisa (Rusticiaus or Rusticien de Pise, in French manu-scripts) is connected to the passage of the Arthurian prose material between France and Italy in the decades of the thirteenth century. Rustichello evokes certain centres of reception that are particularly important in the Romance literary system, such as the eastern Mediterrances, Pisa and Genoa in fact, the Mediterranean in general. It is no accident that in 1298 his name is linked with that of the Venetian Marco Polo and the geographical work calledLe Devisement dou Monde

      I begin this chapter with the historical context Rustichello’s...

    • 3 FROM FRANCE TO ITALY: THE TRISTAN TEXTS
      (pp. 41-68)
      Marie-José Heijkant

      Among the Arthurian romances written from the mid-twelfth century on, Italians preferred that of Triatan, who quickly became the exemplary knightpar excellences. Indeed the Trisatan story was ‘the only one to assimilate, taking on not only the Italian language, but a truly Italian narrative vitality as well’.¹ That the metrical versions by Thomas and Beroul circulated in Italy early on is clear both from proper names in historical archives and from referances in the earliest lyric poetry. Re Giovanni mentions the love potion, and Giacomo da Lentini mentions thesalle aux imageTristan’s disguise as a pilgrim (see chapter...

    • 4 THE ITALIAN CONTRIBUTION: LA TAVOLA RITONDA
      (pp. 69-88)
      Daniela Delcorno Branca

      TheTavola Ritonda(Round Table) has an incontestable claim to be only real Arthurian romances of the Italian Middle Ages. Italian offer many translations and reworkings of the great French prose romances, but in my view they are of mainly linguistic or philological interest, useful for determining which texts and versions were circulating alongside the many codices in North French copied by Italia scribes.¹ In general they do not boast a narrative outline that is original with respect to their models; even the better attempts, such as theTristano Riccardianoand theTristano Corsiniano, are limited to a subset in...

  8. Part Two Arthurian Material in Italian Narrative Forms

    • 5 NARRATIVE STRUCTURE IN MEDIEVAL ITALIAN ARTHURIAN ROMANCE
      (pp. 91-104)
      Stefano Mula

      The Arthurian legends have, in Michel Stanesco’s words, a ‘European destiny’.² The legends and the texts spread quickly throughout Europe, carrying with them themes, characters and narrative structures. In Italy as elsewhere in Europe, authors modified the original renditions with the tools at their disposal – rhetorical and narrative tools they shared with the authors of the stories they were retelling. To talk about narrative structures in Italian prose texts thus requires that we refer to the more abundant legends. When Arthurian romances first arrivede on the Italian peninsula they wore their French garb, but soon donned different dress. Early diffusion...

    • 6 ARTHURIAN MATERIAL IN ITALIAN CANTARI
      (pp. 105-120)
      Maria Bendinelli Predelli

      Cantariare short narrative poems, from 400 to several thousand lines, that emerged as a genre in late medieval Italy.¹ Althrough someCantarirepresent religious or classical episodes, most have epic or romange subjects. In the hands of semi-learned authors, the genre furnished a matrix in which the Matter of France and the Matter of Britain become conflated.Cantariare characterised by eight-line stanzas (ollava rima), with alternating rhymes in the first six lines, and a rhyming couplet (rima baciata) for the final two – ABABABCC – but a fewcantarihave stanzes of only six lines, ABABCC. The genre was destined...

    • 7 ARTHUR AS RENAISSANCE EPIC
      (pp. 121-130)
      Eleonora Stoppino

      Between the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, Arthurian cycle texts circulated widely in the Italian peninsula. This circulation varied with respect to audiences, languages, literary forms and media. From the lords of the northern courts to thecantimpanca(the popular singers of thepiazze), from the shortcantarion Merlin and Tristan to Florentinezibaldoni(commonplace books), from the compilations in French to the authoritative reworkings operated by Boiardo and Ariosto, the Arthurian legend represents a conspicuous and liviely components of the literary tradition of the Italian Renaissance. The pervasive presents of Arthurian themes in the life of the Renaissane courts...

  9. Part Three Arthur beyond Romance

    • 8 THE ARTHURIAN PRESENCE IN EARLY ITALIAN LYRIC
      (pp. 133-144)
      Roberta Capelli

      From the twelfth century on, signs of the popularity of the heroes of the Round Table appeared in various forms in Italy, revealing a remarkably consolidated presence. Arthurian naming patterns are found in archival documents, particularly in northern and north-eastern Italy. The Modena archivolt and the Otranto mosaic (discussed in Chapter 13) represent Arthur and Arthurian characters. Authors writing in Latin such as Henricus of Settimello and Godfrey of Viterbo allude to Arthurian figure and stories. Between the last quater of the thirteenth century and the first half of the fourteenth, the Italianscriptoriaare at the height of their...

    • 9 ARTHUR IN MEDIEVAL ITALIAN SHORT NARRATIVE
      (pp. 145-157)
      F. Regina Psaki

      In a broad but lapidary summation, Christopher Kleinhenz describes two poles for the spectrum of Italian Arthurian literature:

      In Italian literature, the principal players in the Arthurian drama assumed a new, double life: a ‘symbolic’ existence as emblematic figure in superficial allusions, and a ‘real’ literary life as principal characters in a sustained narrative or sequence of episodes. On the one hand, lyric poets used these figure as standards of comparison against which they measured elements of their own experience: beauty, prowess, wisdom, and the like. On the other hand, other authors mined the rich (mainly French) Arthurian treasure trove...

    • 10 THE ARTHURIAN TRADITION IN THE THREE CROWNS
      (pp. 158-176)
      Christopher Kleinhenz

      In a broad but lapidary summation, Christopher Kleinhenz describes two poles for the spectrum of Italian Arthurian literature:

      In Italian literature, the principal players in the Arthurian drama assumed a new, double life: a ‘symbolic’ existence as emblematic figure in superficial allusions, and a ‘real’ literary life as principal characters in a sustained narrative or sequence of episodes. On the one hand, lyric poets used these figure as standards of comparison against which they measured elements of their own experience: beauty, prowess, wisdom, and the like. On the other hand, other authors mined the rich (mainly French) Arthurian treasure trove...

  10. Part Four Arthur beyond Literature

    • 11 ARTHUR IN HAGIOGRAPHY: THE LEGEND OF SAN GALGANO
      (pp. 179-189)
      Franco Cardini

      One of Italy’s most noted Arthurian sites is located in a magical corner of Tuscany, bounded by Siena, Grosseto and the Metalliferous Hills. On a clear day, the azure Tyrrhenian Sea glitters away to the south-west. Through hills planted with grapes and olives flow the merse, small tributary of the river Ombrone. Atop a small hill sits the sanctuary of Montesiepi, usually calledLa Rotonda: a cylindrical red brick building adorned with bands of white travertine. The massive Romanesque structure had been repeatedly modified, but has been restored in the modern period. A few dozen yards downhill, the imposing ruins...

    • 12 OWNERS AND READERS OF ARTHURIAN BOOKS IN ITALY
      (pp. 190-204)
      Gloria Allaire

      The question of who in Italy read the narratives of King Arthur and his court is vast, spanning different centuries, different geographical areas and various languages. Using extant manuscripts and fragments as transmission evidence, Daniela Delcorno Branca has examined the interface between books copied in French and their Italian counterparts, a phenomenon which occurred as early as the thirteenth century.¹ Linguistic evidence allows us to localise book production and readership by country or region, but falls short of revealing the precise identity or status of a given reader; to learn more, we must consider private library inventories and owners’ marks...

    • 13 ARTHURIAN ART IN ITALY
      (pp. 205-232)
      Gloria Allaire

      As we have seen in Chapters 11 and 12, some of the most copious evidence for the circulation of the Arthurian legend in Italy is not textual at all, but material. By examining visial representation, we can often understand which specific texts circulated in a given area. Unfortunately art historians and literary scholars have not always communicated their discoveries to each other, a problem which this chapter attempts to address. Any survey of artistic representations of the Arthurian legend which survive in Italy or which were produced by Italians must begin with the 1938Arthurian Legends in Medieval Artby...

    • 14 ARTHURIAN ART REFERENCES
      (pp. 233-246)
      Gloria Allaire
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY: PRIMARY TEXTS
    (pp. 247-253)
    Gloria Allaire
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY: STUDIES
    (pp. 254-280)
    Gloria Allaire
  13. INDEX OF MANUSCRIPTS
    (pp. 281-283)
  14. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 284-297)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 298-298)