Telling tales out of school: the fairy tale and Italian academies.
Elsewhere I have explained how sixteenth-century literary theories of the marvelous served to limit the success of the fairy tale in Italy. (6) In this essay, I examine how the practices documented in the writings of three literary academies contributed to the genre's fallure on its native soil. Out of the thousands of academies that flourished in early modern Italy, I focus on the Intronati of Siena, the Oziosi of Naples, and the Incogniti of Venice because members of these academies created texts which reveal how academic practices determined the fate of the Italian literary fairy tale. Furthermore, while we do not know Straparola's relation to the academies that flourished in his lifetime, we do know that Basile belonged to both the Oziosi and the Incogniti in the years in which he wrote his fairy tales. In the pages that follow, I identify two ways in which these literary institutions thwarted the success of the literary fairy tale in Italy. First, they constructed a hierarchy of short prose narrative that privileged the verisimilar Boccaccian novella over the feminized, and thus inferior, form of the literary fairy tale. Second, they enforced a decorum of storytelling that relegated the fairy tale to spaces outside of the official meetings of the academy. In this way, the academies distanced the fairy tale from sanctioned literary pursuits and thus ensured its fallure among male authors who sought to acquire prestige or patronage through their literary endeavors in the academy. At the same time, this decorum also discouraged women writers, who by the mid-sixteenth century had begun to publish in greater numbers, from penning fairy tales. Admittedly, these texts present a methodological challenge as it is difficult to determine to what extent they are descriptive as well as prescriptive. For this reason, it is impossible to determine beyond a shadow of a doubt what actually occurred at every meeting of these academies. Nonetheless, as I will show, the texts under discussion clearly position the fairy tale outside of the academy.
Concurrent with the humanist revival of Greek thought during the fifteenth century, Italy witnessed the formation of academies modeled on Plato's school in Athens. These intellectual institutions became so numerous on the peninsula that even small cities like Salo, Rovigo, and Montepulciano hosted more than one academy during the Cinquecento. (7) The increasing importance of academies in the cultural life of Italy during the sixteenth century can be directly linked to the withering of another institution, the university. The post-Tridentine imposition of religious orthodoxy and a rigid adherence to Aristotelianism within Italian universities, especially in the scientific fields, stifled intellectual exploration and experimentation. (8) While there existed academies dedicated to the study of science, law, or music, the vast majority of these learned societies focused their energies on literary pursuits. (9) The publication of Aristotle's Poetics in Latin during the first half of the sixteenth century sparked a renewed interest in the codification of literary genres. (10) In Italy, it was in the context of literary academies that scholars formulated the rules governing those genres, such as the novella, the songbook of lyric poems (canzoniere), or the chivalric epic.
L'Accademia degli Intronati
Founded in 1525 in Siena, the Academy of the Intronati survived into the next century, despite periodic closures due to the political instability plaguing the region or the flagging interest of members. While today the academy is most often remembered for its contributions to Renaissance comic theater, during the second half of the sixteenth century the Intronati were also celebrated across Italy for their veglie, social gatherings hosted by the academy at which members were joined by Sienese noble women. At the veglie, the academy members and noble women discussed literary issues and played games that allowed all present to display their wit and conversational skills. The veglie became a source of civic pride as Italian nobles flocked to Siena to observe or partake in the fun.
In the dedicatory letter to his Dialogo de" giuochi che nelle vegghie sanesi si usano di fare (1572), academy member Girolamo Bargagli describes the text that follows as "quasi un modello dell'usanza del nostro festeggiare" meant to serve as a sort of memorial or monument aimed at informing both foreigners and local youth about the traditions of the Sienese veglie, or vegghie. (11) Rather than reproduce an evening of game playing, Bargagli's dialogue recreates the academic meeting that marked the re-opening of the Intronati after a hiatus brought about by political unrest in Tuscany. (12) Because the academy members discuss the merits of some 130 gaines, the dialogue reads like an encyclopedia of Renaissance amusements. The eight printings of Bargagli's dialogue before 1610 attest to the enduring public interest in the academy and the games they played during their leisure hours. (13)
After discussing the rules of play for the 130th game, Marcantonio Piccolomini, a founding member of the Intronati referred to in the dialogue by his academic moniker "I1 Sodo," announces that "e tempo che si dica del novellare." (14) Although not specifically deemed a game, telling tales figured as an important form of entertainment during the veglie. (15) Rather than providing advice regarding the performative aspects of storytelling, Il Sodo commands his fellow Intronati to recount only novellas when called upon to tell a tale, an order that necessitates an excursus on prose genre theory.
Il Sodo must deliver what amounts to an academic lesson on the novella because during the sixteenth century the parameters for this genre were not clearly delineated. His discussion assumes the form of a literary treatise in which he seeks to delimit the boundaries of the novella genre by distinguishing it from contiguous literary forms, including the literary fairy tale. Il Sodo constructs a hierarchy of brief narrative prose that that places the novella in a privileged position by underscoring its adherence to the tenets of Aristotelian poetics. Unlike the other genres he describes, the novella embodies the classical ideals of form that were embraced with renewed enthusiasm during the 1560s, (16) the very years in which Bargagli is thought to have written his dialogue.
Il Sodo commences his definition of the genre by declaring that a novella must contain "un'azzione e uno avvenimento solo e non molti." (17) This Aristotelian unity of action distinguishes the novella from the istoria, a narrative which recounted many different events. Il Sodo also differentiates true novellas from certain tales told on the First Day and all of the tales told on the Sixth Day of the Decameron "che solamente in un detto e un una arguta risposta consistono e non in fatto e in azzione alcuna, propriamente novelle dire non si possono, ma motti e leggiadrie di parole piu tosto." (18) He urges the Intronati to eschew these motti, surmising that Boccaccio included this type of tale in his masterpiece because he was constrained by his model, the thirteenth-century collection of tales known as il Novellino or Cento Novelle Antiche, to include one hundred tales. Having quite understandably run out of novellas, Boccaccio turned to the lesser form of the motto, a form described in the Decameron as most appropriate to women due to its brevity. (19)
The true novella must also contain "un certo verisimil raro, cioe che verisimilmente possa accadere, ma che pero di rado addivenga." (20) This definition demands that Il Sodo account for Boccaccio's few fantastic tales. He initially states that three of Boccaccio's 100 tales do not exhibit this "verisimil raro": tale X.9 in which Messer Torello travels by magical means from Babylonia to Pavia in one night; tale X.5 in which a necromancer conjures a garden in bloom in January as if it were May; and tale V.8 about the infernal hunt witnessed by Nastagio degli Onesti. It is here that Il Sodo sketches the parameters of the favola, a category that included the literary fairy tale.
He first argues that since in Boccaccio's day people believed in the power of necromancy to accomplish marvelous feats, tales X.5 and X.9 would have been considered verisimilar by Boccaccio's first public. The story of Nastagio degli Onesti, however, resists such classification:
Ma piu dello impossibile, et quasi del favoloso hebbe la novella di Nastagio degli Honesti, il quale nella pineta di Ravenna trovo, et la fece con suo profitto vedere alla sua donna, una giovane bellissima ignuda et scapigliata, cacciata da quel cavaliere, ilquale con un cortello le cavava il cuore, et a due mastini a mangiare il gittava, et dopo non molto spatio, come morta non fosse, risorgeva, et di nuovo cominciava a fuggire, et il cavaliere a seguitarla, di nuovo ferendola, et di nuovo ogni venerdi nella medesima hora, et nel medesimo luogo uccidendola, et questo per ordine della divina giustizia, in pena della crudelta, che quella giovane in vita haveva usata al Cavalier cacciatore, che per suo amore si era ucciso. Ma io mi credo, che le due prime [tales X.5 and X.9] fossero poste da quel giudicioso scrittore fra le altre sue, come cose che gli huomini ancor credano, che per la forza della negromantia avvenire possano, con tutto che hoggi spenta, e perduta sia. L'altra poi della cacciata donna ha bene piu del impossibile, ma come sola fra tante, si puo ben passare nel modo, che in un grande sborso fra molti belli, e pesanti scudi se ne passerebbe uno di bellissima lega, che non fosse al tutto di peso. Ma ancor che cotal novella trapassi alla favola, non puo fare per la sua stravaganza di non dilettare. Egli e ben vero che risedrebbe meglio mescolata fra' romanzi, dove le Fate, gli incanti, e le cose sopranaturali sono molto gratiose, e dilettevoli, e alhora maggiormente, quando sono feliciemente spiegate, come dall'Ariosto fu fatto. Et cio mi credo io che nasca, cosi per esser proprie di quel poema, come ancora per contenere sotto di senso allegorico, da giovare in un tempo stesso, e dilettare, laquale allegoria non ricercando la novella, ma desiderando l'ammaestramento, e utilita scoperta, avviene, che men belle, e meno perfette si tengono quelle, che maghi incanti e cose fatate contengono, e pero lasciate cotali favole alle semplici fanciulette, qualcuna di caso verosimile ne narrarete, quando da comandamento di vegghia a cio sarete astretti. (21)
Before analyzing this passage, it will be helpful to make a few observations on Il Sodo's use of the word favola. In modern Italian, the terre fiaba generally refers to fairy tales, while favola refers to fables in the Aesopian tradition, but is also sometimes used for fairy tales. In early modern Italy the terre fiaba was rarely used in any context; favola signified both "fable" and "fairy tale," and more broadly any nonsensical or untrue tale. In their dictionary of the Italian language, the Crusca Academy defined favola as follows: "Falsa narrazione alla verita simigliante; trovato non vero, ma talora verisimile, talora no; come gli apologi, e le trasformazioni d'Ovidio: e de' versimili, come le novelle di Boccaccio." (22) According to this definition, favola was a polysemous word that could be applied to both fantastic Ovidian metamorphoses and Boccaccio's realistic novellas; however, Il Sodo's description of the favola as tales containing fairies, wizards, and enchantments, restricts the category so as to make it a useful point of comparison with other short narrative forms. Admittedly, as he uses favola, the term appears to represent a category that is more inclusive than twenty-first-century semantic or structural definitions of the fairy tale, for it seems to include chivalric romances and ghost stories like the tale of Nastagio degli Onesti. There is no doubt, though, that Il Sodo would have considered Straparola's literary fairy tales in which a fairy curses a Queen who later gives birth to a pig (II.1), a magic elixir brings back to life a young man who had been chopped into tiny pieces (III.2), and a necromancer's apprentice engages in a duel of spells with his master (VIII.4), to be favole, and as such to be inferior literary forms. According to Il Sodo's definition, only one out of the 100 tales in the Decameron can rightly be considered a favola. Il Sodo's efforts to minimize the presence of favole to a mere 1% of Boccaccio's Decameron indicates his disdain for this genre.
For Il Sodo, the problem with favole lies not the presence of fantastic elements per se, but the fact that such supernatural beings, objects, and occurrences are most appropriate in romanzi, chivalric romances like Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, where they acquire a moral weight through allegorization. As Daniel Javitch asserts, "[a]llegorization, which had been the traditional way of preserving the normative character of the pagan epics in a Christian culture, and which was itself a sign that a poetic text deserved to be institutionalized, was another process that the Furioso underwent in the sixteenth century" when commentators and editors sought to introduce the poem to the canon. (23) In their attempts to legitimize the poem, sixteenth-century editors added an octave that provided an allegorical reading of what followed at the beginning of each canto. Because early modern favole, be they Boccaccio's tale of Nastagio or Straparola's fairy tales, were not read allegorically, they lacked the legitimizing moral gravity ascribed to chivalric romances. Furthermore, they did contain the readily apparent utility characteristic of the most perfect novellas. In effect then, the favola succeeds in fulfilling only one of the two humanist requirements placed upon texts: they are dolci, but not particularly utili: delightful, but not useful for the edification of the reader or listener. For Il Sodo, favole are literary lightweights and as such best left to the "semplici fanciullette." While Bargagli's proscription clearly discourages men from recounting fairy tales by feminizing the genre, I would argue that it similarly discouraged the noble women who attended the veglie from telling or writing such tales.
Although the majority of Italian academies in this period considered women a mere ornamental presence, the Intronati, although almost never admitting women as official members, viewed their female companions to be intelligent interlocutors capable of discussing philosophical and artistic issues during the academy's veglie. (24) Alexandra Coller has recently demonstrated that "this academy's positive exploration of female subjectivity that is not bound by the traditional patriarchal imperatives of 'silence,' 'obedience,' and 'passivity' is significant and worthy of note." (25) In their writings, members of the Intronati depict women conversing competently on metaphysical topics, argue that women should be able to choose their own husbands, and assert that girls should have access to a liberal arts education. (26) Women even occasionally assumed positions of leadership at their informal gatherings. Such was the case one evening in 1542, when a woman known as "Atalanta" conducted a discussion of her own sonnet. (27) Bargagli's dialogue continues this progressive tradition: his characters encourage female speech by advocating that women participate equally in the veglie.
Well-aware that the education most women received did not include rhetoric and eloquence, Bargagli was careful to indicate the sort of guidance and support necessary for women's entry into the public sphere. Il Sodo suggests that the male academicians coach women to prepare them for public appearances and assist them during the veglie when necessary. (28) He also warns about dwelling on domestic matters advising that at the veglie the noble woman "fuggira di paralare delle cose famigliare, perche cosi si mostra donnicciuola e non donna." (29) Just as speaking too much about domestic matters would reduce a noble woman to a "donnicciuola," recounting fairy tales transforms a "donna" into a "semplice fanciulletta," a label that would have been perceived as demeaning. The women who participated in the social conversation of the veglie are never referred to as "fanciullette," nor are they characterized as simple; they are consistently referred to as "donne" or "nobildonne." For this reason, the assignation of favole to simple young girls serves to remove the literary fairy tale form both the official meetings and the veglie of the Intronati which women attended. This helps to explain why Italian women writers rejected a genre that a century later their French counterparts found so compelling.
While Bargagli's characters never mention Straparola or his tales, they interestingly reify the decorum of storytelling elaborated in the fictional frame tale of Straparola's Le piacevoli notti. It seems that in the case of the Intronati, life imitated art. In Straparola's frame tale, a merry band comprised of historical personages and fictional characters gather at the home of Lucrezia Gonzaga on the Venetian isle of Murano to sing songs, dance, and tell tales during thirteen nights of Carnival. Only the youngest women in the group, the ten fictional damigelle or young maidens, recount fairy tales. The historical male personages present never tell such tales and the matronly female historical personages of the group similarly shun this genre on the rare occasion that they are called upon to narrate. (30)
L'Accademia degli Oziosi
In his seminal essay on Lo cunto de li cunti, Benedetto Croce argued that the Spanish author Francisco de Quevedo took the title for his Cuento de cuentos (1626), an anthology of phrases and sayings to be avoided in polite conversation, from Basile's collection of tales. From 1616-20, Quevedo lived in Naples and was a member of the Oziosi. Croce suggests that Quevedo met Basile and came to know of his tales at the academy. (31) Contemporary scholarship has interpreted Croce's observations to mean that Basile actually presented his tales at the official meetings of the academy. Recent research on this academy indicates that this was simply not the case.
The academy of the Oziosi was founded in May 1611 when the Spanish Viceroy of Naples, Pedro Fernandez de Castro, Count of Lemos, gathered together a group of Spanish and Neapolitan writers, natural philosophers, and nobles. (32) By 1616, the academy assembled regularly on Thursday evenings for meetings that were divided into two distinct moments. They dedicated the first half of each meeting to the presentation of academic lessons and the debate of questions that had been posed at prior meetings. In 1642, a founding member of the academy, Francesco De Pietri, published a partial summary of the questions debated by members during the preceding years entitled Problemi accademici. (33) The questions and the summary of the arguments provided in response permit us to consider the great range of subjects addressed during these meetings. The Oziosi interpreted literary texts, participated in the debate on the status of women, considered puzzling aspects of natural history, and addressed moral questions. (34) The eclectic nature of De Pietri's book belies the predominant interest of this academy in literary pursuits: the second half of each meeting was dedicated to reading, critiquing, and defending poetry written by academy members in Italian, Spanish, Latin, and Greek. Committees of "revisori," or editors, were elected to judge submissions in each language. A poet and skilled editor of sixteenth-century verse, Basile served as "revisore" for the Italian language. (35) If the poems met with the approval of a majority of the members, they were then copied into the "Book of Life" a record of the academy's poetic production.
In his extensive study of documents pertaining to the Oziosi as well as the myriad texts produced by its members, Girolamo de Miranda concludes that "la certezza dell'esclusione della produzione in dialetto dall'agone accademico mansiano--e l'assenza di novelle tra i testi del sodalizio--non consente l'inserimento della celeberrima raccolta di Basile (gia iniziata forse in questi anni corrispondenti al viceregno del duca d'Alba) tra le opere "oziose" o d'ambito accademico." (36) During their official meetings, the Oziosi eschewed both dialect literature and the novella, preferring poetry over prose for their literary endeavors. For these reasons, De Miranda concludes that "l'esperienza dialettale del Cunto di Abbattutis in tal caso risultava davvero lontanissima dall'universo degli Oziosi." (37) Thus, we can say that Basile told his tales "out of school," outside the context of the official meetings of the Oziosi.
Of course, to say that Basile's Neapolitan fairy tales were not discussed during official academic meetings is not to imply that his fellow academicians completely dismissed them. In fact, another academy of which Basile was a member, the Academy of the Incogniti, openly praised Lo cunto.
L'Accademia degli Incogniti
Although he spent the final two decades of his lire in and around Naples, the Incogniti invited Basile to become a corresponding member of their Venetian academy. Founded in 1630 by the Venetian nobleman and literary prodigy Giovan Francesco Loredan, the Incogniti dedicated their meetings to reading and discussing texts, honing their oratory skills, and occasionally enjoying musical performances. (38) A savvy promoter of the work of the academy and his own public image, Loredan encouraged the publication of an impressive illustrated catalogue of academy members entitled Le glorie degli Incogniti (1647). The entry for each member included a portrait by engraver Francesco Ruschi, a laudatory biography, and a bibliography of his important published works. The entry for Basile depicts him as the quintessential courtier, as a man equally adept with the sword as with the pen. The discussion of his literary accomplishments addresses works written in both Italian and Neapolitan dialect. After praising Basile's Teagene, a verse adaptation of Heliodorus' romance The Ethiopian Histories, the biography then addresses Basile's works in dialect.
E perche l'amenita dell'ingegno di Gio. Battista il credeva capace d'ogni maniera di componimento si compiacque egli per suo diporto, e per [t]rattenimento delle conversationi di comporte nel linguaggio materno un'Opera ripiena di facetie, di motti, e di piacevolezze che intitolo lo Conto de' Conti Trattenimento di Picciarilli, publicando col finto nome di Gio. Alessio Abatuti Anagrammatismo tratto dal proprio nome. (39)
While the biography also mentions Basile's nine eclogues written in Neapolitan dialect, Le muse napoletane, the bibliography lists the poem Teagene and Lo cunto de li cunti as his most noble works. In light of the fact that both the Intronati and the Oziosi had excluded any discussion, recitation, or critique of fairy tales from their official meetings, it might seem surprising that the Incogniti celebrate Basile's fairy tales as one of his major accomplishments while omitting the titles of his collection of lyric poetry, piscatorial drama, and religious verse written in Italian. (40) Had the fairy tale genre gained acceptance among the Incogniti?
A careful analysis of the description offered of Lo Cunto indicates that while the fairy tale still had not become a genre worthy of consideration during official meetings of the academy, it had entered the Neapolitan equivalent of the Sienese veglie. According to the biography, Basile wrote his tales for his own amusement and the entertainment of others during conversazioni, post-prandial gatherings of noble men and women at the Neapolitan courts dedicated to witty exchanges, storytelling, theatrical recitations, and playing games. (41) This praise for Lo Cunto should not, however, be understood as an attempt to legitimize the fairy tale genre, for here Basile's text has been reclassified as a work full of "facetie, di motti, e di piacevolezze" (humorous writings, witticisms, and pleasantries or jokes). While Bargagli urged his companions to avoid the form when asked to tell a tale, the motto had figured as a respectable courtly entertainment at least since the eloquent interlocutors in Baldassare Castiglione's influential dialogue The Book of the Courtier (1528) traded this type of tale while conversing and playing games in Urbino. (42) Recasting Basile's fairy tales as motti rendered them acceptable for a male author-narrator to recount in the context of entertaining--rather than academic--conversations by removing the stigma that Bargagli attributes to the favola and the motto. (43)
Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading even a brief passage from Lo cunto knows that Basile's fairy tales burst with "facetie, motti, and piacevolezze." The tales are full of witty sayings, astounding metaphors, and comic juxtapositions of high and low culture. In Lo cunto, the names of learned figures from antiquity precede an enumeration of Neapolitan street performers, while lines from Vergil's Aeneid are found beside allusions to works performed in Neapolitan puppet theaters. Central to the enjoyment of these tales is the reader's or listener's ability to identify and comprehend Basile's comic manipulation of these many citations. The complexities of navigating this multitude of references turn the literary text of Basile's fairy tales into an interpretative game akin to those played by the Intronati and their female companions.
For example, in Basile's tale Lo scarafone, lo sorece e lo grillo (III.5), the narrator Popa uses verses plucked from Petrarch's canzoniere are to describe the diarhetic excess of a drunken German. This playful and irreverent recycling of one of the pillars of the Italian literary canon closely resembles a game played by the Intronati and their female companions which required participants to either supply a lofty interpretation for a vile and base saying, or conversely, to provide a base interpretation for a verse of poetry written by a revered author. In describing this game, Il Sodo recounts how a young man cleverly interpreted a line from one of Petrarch's sonnets "Lo star mi strugge, e'l fuggir non m'aita" to mean that the poet, feeling a chill drew near to the fireplace, but soon became too hot and left the vicinity only to feel cold again. (44) Certainly, not every tale in Lo Cunto bears such close resemblance to games described in the Dialogo de' giuochi, but all of Basile's fairy tales require the reader or listener to engage the same sort of literary knowledge and linguistic facility demanded of the participants in the veglie. Undoubtedly, the fact that Basile's fairy tales lent themselves to re-classification as motti or giochi made them welcome amusements at the Neapolitan conversazioni.
In The Political Unconscious, Fredric Jameson observes that during the twentieth century structural and semantic approaches dominated the study of genre. (45) Rather than describe the structure of the literary fairy tale in terms of narrative motifs or attempt to individuate the spirit of the genre, the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian academies discussed here articulated a decorum of storytelling that dictated where, when, and by whom the fairy tale should be written or told. By confining the literary fairy tale to spaces of recreational rather than intellectual pursuits, such as the Neapolitan conversazioni, the Intronati, Oziosi, and Incogniti discouraged male authors from embracing the genre. Although like Basile the authors of fairy tales might be praised for their wit, the genre was unlikely to gain them prestige or patronage. Ironically, in feminizing the genre by assigning it to "simple young girls," Bargagli most likely also discouraged female authors from writing fairy tales.
Indeed, Italian women would first experiment with the literary fairy tale only in the eighteenth century, and then as translators of Basile's Lo Cunto rather than authors of original tales. (46)
This article represents a first step toward understanding how Italian academies shaped the fortunes of the literary fairy tale. Clearly, much work is yet to be done and many questions remain. For example, how did other academic lessons on the novella treat more fantastic favole? (47) And what about those Italian academies that admitted French authors of fairy tales? The Academy of the Ricovrati in Padua had distinguished itself since its founding in 1599 itself by including learned women in its ranks. At the end of the seventeenth century, the academy invited the French fairy tale writers Catherine Bernard, Marie-Catherine D'Aulnoy, and Charlotte-Rose Caumont de La Force to join their esteemed institution. Did this mean that the Ricovrati viewed the fairy tale as a worthy genre? As new research on these intellectual institutions emerges, we will undoubtedly arrive at a more complete understanding of the ways in which these literary institutions shaped the fortunes of this genre, both on its native soil and abroad.
University of Colorado at Boulder
(1.) I borrow the terms "rise tale" and "restoration tale" from Ruth Bottigheimer's Fairy Godfather" Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) pp. 5-27.
(2.) For a detailed history of editions and translations of Le piacevoli notti see Donato Pirovano's "Nota al Testo" in Le piacevoli notti, (Rome: Salerno Editrice, 2000), pp. 805-816.
(3.) Some of Straparola's contemporaries did pen prose that included fairy-tale elements, such as enchanted objects and fairies. See, by way of example, Giulia Bigolina's Urania, written mid-sixteenth century but unpublished in her lifetime. Bigolina seems to have imitated the structure of Le piacevoli notti in her "Novella of Giulia Camposampiero and Tesibaldo Vitaliani" (date of composition unknown). In this text, a brief frame tale introduces the novella which is followed by a riddle in verse. Lorenzo Selva included three fairy tales in his prose romance Della metamorfosi (1582).
(4.) The Florentine painter and poet Lorenzo Lippi (1604-1664) incorporated a number of Basile's tales in his mock epic poem Il malmantile racquistato which was published under the pseudonym Perlone Zipoli. The first editor to list the alternate title Il pentamerone on the frontispiece of Basile's Lo cunto, Pompeo Sarnelli (1649-1724), published a collection of rive fairy tales in Neapolitan dialect entitled Posilecheata (1684) under the pseudonym Masillo Reppone. For other authors who used fairy-tale themes and conventions in this period, see Nancy Canepaa's "Italy" in The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, Ed. Jack Zipes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) p. 257.
(5.) Lewis C. Seifert, Fairy Tales, Sexuality, and Gender in France 1690-1715 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996) p. 8.
(6.) See Chapter 2 of my book Fairy-Tale Science (Toronto." University of Toronto Press, 2008).
(7.) Amedeo Quondam, "L'Academia," Letteratura italiana: Il letterato e le istituzioni, 9 Vols., Editor Alberto Asor Rosa (Turin: Einaudi, 1982) 1: pp. 890-98.
(8.) Saverio Ricci, "La crisi dell'Unamesimo italiano," Storia della letteratura italiana" La fine del cinquecento e il seicento (Rome: Salerno, 1997) V: pp. 78-79.
(9.) Quondam, pp. 872-73.
(10.) For a discussion of the importance of this textual rediscovery for Italian literary theory see Bernard Weinberg's A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance (Chicago" University of Chicago Press, 1961), Vol. 1, pp. 349-423.
(11.) Girolamo Bargagli, Dialogo de' giuochi che nelle vegghie sanesi si usano di fare, Ed. Patrizia D'Incalci Ermini, Intro. by Riccardo Bruscagli (Siena, Accademia Senese Degli Intronati, 1982) p. 46.
(12.) For a brief description of these political events see Alexandra Coller's "The Sienese Accademia degli Intronati and Its Female Interlocutors," The Italianist 26.2 (2006), p. 229.
(13.) Bargagli, p. 35. The dialogue was reprinted in 1574, 1575, 1581, 1591, 1592, 1598, and 1609.
(14.) Ibid, p. 216.
(15.) There is, however, a game called "il giuoco del novella" in one player is chosen to narrate a novella from the Decameron while the other players are assigned the name of a character or object from the tale. Whenever a character or object is mentioned during the telling of the tale the player assigned that identity must jump up and exclaim, "Avete fatto bene, gran merce a voi!". Telling raies is considered to be a game when a specific theme is established to which all narrators must adhere.
(16.) Daniel Javitch. Proclaiming a Classic" The Canonization of Orlando Furioso (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991) p. 44.
(17.) Bargagli, p. 217.
(18.) Bargagli, p. 217.
(19.) For a discussion of gendered uses of the motto during the sixteenth century see Virginia Cox's essay "Seen but not heard: the role of women speakers in Cinquecento literary dialogue" in Women in Italian Renaissance Society, Ed. Letizia Panizza (London" Legenda, 2000), p. 392.
(20.) Bargagli, p. 219.
(21.) Bargagli, pp. 219-220.
(22.) "Favola." Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca (Venice: Giovanni Alberti, 1612).
(23.) Javitch, p. 6.
(24.) On the limited role of women in Italian academies see Conor Fahy, "Women and Literary Academies," Women in Italian Renaissance Culture and Society, Ed. Letizia Panizza (Oxford: Legenda, 2000), 438. The only woman admitted to the Intronati was the poet Laura Battiferri in 1557 (Fahy, 439).
(25.) Coller, p. 236. Coller's work on the Intronati convincingly challenges Fahy's assertions regarding the role of women in this academy.
(26.) Coller finds these assertions in Marcantonio Piccolomini's unpublished dialogue (p. 225) written around 1538, Aonio Paleario's Dell'economia, also unpublished but written in 1555 (pp. 228-229).
(27.) Francoise Glenisson-Delannee discusses and prints an abridged version of the manuscript by Marcello Landucci which documents this occasion in her article "Une veillee Intronata inedite (1542) ou le jeu litteraire a caractere politique d'un diplomate: Marcello Landucci" in Bollettino senese di storia patria 98 (1991), pp. 63-101. Coller also briefly discusses "Atalanta", p. 336.
(28.) For example, see Bargagli pp. 91-92. Here Il Sodo explains that when important guests were expected at the veglia, the academy members met with the women beforehand to better prepare them for the encounter.
(29.) Bargagli, p. 147.
(30.) For a detailed discussion of the gendering of the literary frame tale in Straparola's Le piacevoli notti see Chapter 3 of my book Fairy-Tale Science.
(31.) Croce writes, "Si ricordi che il Quevedo passo parecchio tempo a Napoli tra il 1616 e il 1620, e che egli appartenne all'academia degli Oziosi, dove pote incontrarsi col Basile e avere notizia dell'opera di lui..." Saggi della letteratura italiana del Seicento (Bari: Laterza, 1911) pp. 43-44. Croce's essay has reached an even wider public as it has been included in two translations of Basile's tales: Norman M. Penzer's The Pentamerone of Giambattista Basile (1932; rptd. Westport, CT." Greenwood Press, 1979) pp. xv-lxxv; and Jack Zipes reprints Penzer's translation in The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001) pp. 879-902.
(32.) The most detailed study of this academy is Girolamo De Miranda's Una quiete operosa: Forma e pratiche dell'accademia napoletana degli Oziosi 1611-1645 (Naples, Fridericiana Editrice Universitaria, 2000). For a history in English, see Otis H. Green's "The Literary Court of the Conde de Lemos at Naples, 1610-1616" in Hispanic Review (1933.1: 290-308).
(33.) Francesco De Pietri, Problemi accademici (Naples, Salvi, 1642).
(34.) By way of example, I list here a few of the "problems": Qual sia la ragione di quella sentenza dell'Ariosto. Molti consigli de le donne sono/Meglio improvisi, ch'a pensarvi usciti. Problema XXXVI; Qual sia la maggior virtu che possa illustrar la Donna. Problema XVIII; Perche il mulo, e la Mula sieno infecondi. Problema LXIV; Se la Natura inchini al Bene, o al Male. Problema XX.
(35.) De Miranda, p. 349.
(36.) De Miranda, p. 211.
(37.) De Miranda, p. 306.
(38.) Monica Miato, "Accademia e autoprofilo, Le glorie degli Incogniti," Girolamo Brusoni: Avventure di penna e di vita nel Seicento veneto. Ed. Gino Benzoni (Rovigo, Associazione Culturale Minelliana, 2001) p. 158.
(39.) Girolamo Brusoni, Le glorie degli Incogniti (Venice: Valvasense, 1647) pp. 209-210.
(40.) See by way of example of Basile's efforts in these various genres his Opere poetiche (1613), Le avventurose disavventure (1611), and Il pianto della Vergine (1613).
(41.) Michele Rak, "Il Racconto Fiabesco," in Lo Cunto de li Cunti by Giambattista Basile, Ed. and Trans. Michele Rak (Milan: Garzanti, 1986), p. 1057.
(42.) See especially Book II of Castiglione's dialogue and Cox's discussion of women's role in this text in "Seen but not heard".
(43.) In his anthology of verse by Neapolitan poets entilted Gemme poetiche (Napoli, 1645), Tommaso Di Leva made a similar distinction between Basile's literary production in Italian and his dialect writings by calling the latter "l'opere da scherzo" with which Basile "ha consolato il mondo." (De Miranda, p. 272, n. 641).
(44.) Bargagli, p. 185. The verse is from Petrarch's canzone 71.
(45.) Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981) p. 107.
(46.) For a discussion of the Bolognese translation of Basile's Lo Cunto by the Zanotti and Manfredi sisters see my "Dal cunto alla chiaqlira: Una traduzione al femminile" in a Sulla traduzione letteraria, Ed. Franco Nasi (Ravenna: Longo, 2001) pp. 85-92.
(47.) For example, due to limited space, I have not investigated here the lesson on composing novellas which Francesco Bonciani presented to the Academy of the Alterati in the 1570s.
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|Publication:||The Romanic Review|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||May 1, 2008|
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