European Theories of the Drama: An Anthology of Dramatic Theory and Criticism from Aristotle to the Present Day

By Barrett H. Clark | Go to book overview

ITALIAN DRAMATIC CRITICISM OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

For at least a century the great Renaissance critics overshadowed their successors in Italy, and the record of seventeenth century criticism is largely one of more or less pedantic compilation, classification, and repetition. The lack of a new interest in antiquity, such as served Daniello, Trissino, Scaliger and Castelvetro, and the scanty offerings of native dramatic products, are sufficient to account for the lack of outstanding contributions to dramatic theory. Beni Disputatio ( 1600) was among the last works mentioned under Italian Renaissance Criticism. Close upon it, in 1601, came Giovanni Bernardo Brandi Trattato dell' Arte Poetica. In 1613 appeared Chiodino da Monte Melone's rhetorical treatise, and in 1618 Pellegrino Discorso della Poetica, and soon after, the similar works of Udeno Nisieli and Giovanni Colle Bellunese. A curious work of the time is P. M. Cecchini Frutti delle moderne commedie etavisi a chi le recita ( 1628). An ambitious effort was Celso Zani Poetica ecclesiastica e civile . . . nella quale si pone in chiaro la Diffinizione della Poesia commune alla Tragedia e all' Epopeja ( 1643). The list is practically complete with the minor works on poetics by Flavio Querengo and Benedetto Menzini. In 1699 A. Perrucci published his Dell' arte rappresentativa premeditata e all' improvviso.


ITALIAN DRAMATIC CRITICISM OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

Four critics of varying importance opened the new century with works which exerted considerable influence: Crescimbeni, Gravina, Muratori, and Quadrio, contributed historical and critical works many of which were effective in restoring Italy to a position of honor in the critical world. Giovanni Maria Crescimbeni published La Bellezza della volgar Poesia 1700, but enlarged it for the edition of 1730. For the most part his work was one of compilation. Another work, a sort of historical survey, was Gianvincenzo Gravina Della Ragion poetica ( 1704), though of course his Della Tragedia is of greater interest and importance as a dramatic tract. A man of greater insight and learning was Ludovico Antonio Muratori , whose Della perfetta Poesia italiana ( 1706) exerted greater influence than the works of any of his group. Scipione Maffei and F. Palesi wrote minor works on literature and the drama, while Luigi Riccoboni wrote his treatises on the theaters in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, besides a theoretical work, Dell' arte rappresentativa ( 1725). Francesco Xavier Quadrio opened the way to the comparative study and criticism of literature, and his Della Storia della Ragione d'ogni Poesia ( 1739-52) is an ambitious attempt to cover the entire field of poetry. Francesco Maria Zanotti wrote a Poetica in 1768, and Girolamo Tiraboschi continued, though with greater knowledge and insight, the work of Crescimbeni , in his Storia della Letteratura italiana ( 1772-82). Meantime the dramatists themselves began to explain their

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