Italy Literature in the 17th Century Part I

Alongside these actual prodromes of novelty from which the late sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century are glorious, there are in the literature of that same age retching of novelty, in which literary humanism, while trying to surpass itself, degenerates and becomes it exhausts itself in the unexpected and in the artificial, of which Giambattista Marino is the master, in the emphatic and turgid which Gabriello Chiabrera tries to rise up in a pindicting manner.

In  the Lira , a collection of lyrics, in  the Gallery , where, renewing a genre dear to the decadent Greeks, he illustrates drawings, sculptures, real or imaginary, in the poems of various meters celebrating illustrious characters, in the  Sampogna , a collection of mythological-pastoral idylls , finally in the Adonis, great mythological poem, Marino expresses here and there with beautiful efficacy of colors and music the poetry of a sensual soul that is moved and intoxicated by voluptuous spectacles; that it has the sense, not uncommon in decadent ages, of the transience of human things; that is full of admiration for ancient beauty. But these are flashes, the restful pauses of an intellectual tension, which logicizes the fantastic in the most bizarre ways, and reduces the technique of expression to a cold and subtle artifice. Since this is reduced to the art of Marino, the most conspicuous representative of a morbid literary direction which he called  marinism  and from the age  of secentism; and which has a parallel in other degenerative forms of art, at the same time typical of other European nations. It was the natural consequence of the doctrine which abstractly considered form and matter, and that as an ornament of this.

According to ALLCOUNTRYLIST, Marino had many imitators, especially in the lyric and in the idyll (Claudio Achillini, Girolamo Preti, Giambattista Mamiani, Antonio Bruni, Giuseppe Artale, etc.); but no one possessed the ingenuity and consummate technical skill of the master, no one was able with the same vivacity of colors and abundance of rhythms to resume and rework motifs, images, fables, of Greek and Latin poets especially of decadence, as well as of modern poets of all country. He himself said that he had learned to read “with the grapple”, and the matter thus gathered often exploited with the fidelity of the plagiarist.

Marinism with a new twist; Pindarismo, which, with much less ingenuity and sincerity than Marino did not place in his art, attempted Chiabrera with novelty. He had the example of Ronsard, and in the heroic and lugubrious songs, composed to exalt the heroes of Italy, he deduced from Pindar the use, which becomes sterile abuse, of the myth, certain rapid transitions from ancient to modern, certain daring transpositions and compositions of words and even the metric structure of the ode. Emphasis and turgor, affectation of solemnity and sublimity, Pindarism is, as we have already said, another form of secentism, which is then continued in the sonorities and rhetorical swellings of Vincenzo da Filicaia, in the dazzling pomp and solemn harmonies by Alessandro Guidi and down to the century. XVIII in the impetuous and empty bombast of Carlo Innocenzo Frugoni. I emulate, as he jokingly said to himself, of his fellow countryman discoverer of America, the Chiabrera was another “new world” he tried to discover by reproducing in Italian with ingenious unions and modifications of Italian verses the alcaica and the Horatian asclepiadea, and composing in extremely agile metric devices some graceful anacreontics. Poor world too, of pure technical virtuosity.

Not even Fulvio Testi, Francesco Redi, Carlo Maria Maggi had the strength of true poets. But in the moral moralizing of the first, you also feel some spirit of poetry: a sense of discouragement and mistrust in human destinies, a deserted aspiration for stillness, peace, honored ease, a pleasant breath of human sincerity. Redi, a magnificent follower in the scientific prose of the Galilean tradition, brought love rhymes into the Platonizing rhymes and into the long elaborated  Dithyramb his broad and sure doctrine as a philologist, his brio as a delightful man, his healthy and correct equilibrium as a man of science. Carlo Maria Maggi, less cold and cloying in the lyrics of a civil subject than in those of love and morals, has the pride of having started the Milanese vernacular literature with beautiful spontaneity and, if not created, certainly fixed in its aspect which has become traditional , the comic character of Meneghino. Immune, or nearly all, of the three from the vices of the poetry of their time. But the most original for vigor of thought of those who poured between the end of the century. XVI and XVII, and the most poet for the rude expression (even in barbaric meters) of his torment as a thinker, was Tommaso Campanella, the audacious philosopher of morality and politics.

Italy Literature in the 17th Century 1