Italian Literature – The Renaissance Part II

Naturally it is easier for genres more in keeping with the Renaissance spirit: for Horatian satire, narration of personal events, confession (Ariosto, P. Nelli, L. Alamanni, E. Bentivoglio etc.); for the well-constructed oratory (G. Guidiccioni, Della Casa, Lorenzino de ‘Medici); for the bucolic (Ariosto, Trissino, Alamanni, B. Rota, B. Baldi etc.), which lends itself well to refuge in the idyllic setting; for the didactic (in addition to the aforementioned Fracastoro, we remember Le Api by G. Rucellai, the Cultivation by Alamanni, and then Tansillo, Baldi, Erasmo di Valvason). Even historiography (apart from Machiavelli and Guicciardini) is considered a literary genre to be continued following the example of the ancients: both in Latin, as Bembo (who translates his Historia veneta into the vernacular) and P. Giovio; both in the vernacular, as GB Adriani, Italy Nardi, B. Varchi, PF Giambullari, the aforementioned Davanzati, the southerners A. Di Costanzo and C. Porzio, etc. do.

It is also worth noting the existence of a non-classicist current, among which the main exponents are P. Aretino, a great polemicist; F. Berni, who summarizes the ways of playful-burlesque poetry of previous centuries; the Lasca; AF Doni; B. Cellini, who in his autobiography describes art as the supreme goal of life; and above all G. Bruno, with his energy and intellectual passion.

The theater

It also creates a theater in the vernacular in imitation of the classic. Tragedies (Ecerinis by A. Mussato) and comedies (Philologia di Petrarca, lost) began to be written in Latin as early as the fourteenth century: attempts intensified in the following century. At the end of this, tragedies by Seneca and comedies by Plautus and Terentius begin to be played in the originals or translated, until at the very beginning of the sixteenth century there are the first regular comedy (Cassaria di Ariosto) and the first tragedy (Sofonisba by GG Trissino), that is conducted according to the classic rules. Rich and happy overall (there is at least one masterpiece, the Mandrake by Machiavelli, and works of the highest order, such as some comedies by Ruzzante and the Venexiana) the development of sixteenth-century comic theater, which had its roots, as well as in the literary intentions of resurrection of the genre, in the Renaissance spirits attentive to reality; a reality that by far prevails in Aretino’s inspiration, until Bruno’s Candelaio marks the complete liberation even from traditional forms.

Next to the art theater there is a theater that develops popular entertainments, the origins of which are confused with the ancient jestersque representations, and which also meets the taste of the noble classes; its main theme is the satire of the villain, mostly superficial and coarse (but in some, as in Ruzzante, the amused observation does not exclude human sympathy); dialects are his tools. In this type of theater it is the germ of the commedia dell’arte that will dominate the scenes, not only in Italy, from the mid-16th century. in the middle of the 18th.

According to THEMEPARKTOUR, Felice is also the sixteenth-century development of another theatrical form, which derives from the taste for bucolic poetry. The pastoral drama was born from the eclogue at the end of the fifteenth century, of which the greatest examples are the Aminta di Tasso, and, at the end of the sixteenth century, the Pastor fido by B. Guarini. The development of the tragedy is much less happy. Lacking a tragic conception of life, he exaggerates in the bloody and horrible: more than the other Giraldi Cinzio, who takes Seneca as a model instead of the Greeks, and proposes educational purposes, as the Counter-Reformation now recommended.

The epic

The most tenacious and most unfortunate effort of the sixteenth century was however that aimed at the resurrection of the most illustrious classical genre, the epic poem. The discussions and attempts in this sense (Trissino, with his Italy liberated by ‘Gotti ; B. Tasso in the Amadigi, Giraldi Cinzio in his theoretical writings and in his Hercules) constitute the literary climate in which the Gerusalemme Liberata by T. Badger.

With the crisis of the Renaissance, the figure of Tasso emerges in all its power. The old critical formula, according to which his drama would be that of a spiritually man of the early Renaissance forced to live in the midst of the Counter-Reformation, retains its validity, if it is understood in the sense that the Counter-Reformation is not outside of him, but in himself. The sense of limit, a guarantee of serenity, becomes in Tasso a sense of suffocation, and is suffered by him as an injustice. This is the poetic world of the lyrics and of the liberated Jerusalem, which is bitterly opposed by nostalgic aficionados of the old and exalted by those who perceive its significance as a turning point in literary history.

Italian Literature - The Renaissance 2