Stefano Guazzo and the English Renaissance, 1575-1675

Stefano Guazzo and the English Renaissance, 1575-1675

Stefano Guazzo and the English Renaissance, 1575-1675

Stefano Guazzo and the English Renaissance, 1575-1675

Excerpt

The book which is here presented as the first full-length study of a minor but influential figure of the Italian Renaissance is not the one which, twenty years ago, it seemed easily possible to write. That book contemplated placing between its two covers a full life of Guazzo, a detailed analysis and comparative study of La Civil conversatione and of the genre it represents, and a documented rehearsal of the European success achieved by all of Guazzo's writings. Though traces of the original grandiose plan remain, the reader will quickly--and, I hope, gratefully--perceive that the present book has more modest pretensions. In the course of the successive writings and re-writings which it has undergone, the book has reduced the "life" to an introductory sketch, has abandoned the survey of Continental success, and has shortened the time-span to be covered. Even within its narrowed English orientation, it has deliberately omitted the record of Guazzian influence upon the drama: a token chapter dealing with the use of La Civil conversatione byShakespeare and byWebster was grudgingly relinquished at the last moment.

Much remains, it thus appears, still to be done in the study of Guazzo. He deserves a substantial, sympathetic biography not based exclusively upon his somewhat formalized Lettere, as are Canna's and my own sketches, and some Italian scholar, out of mere decency, should trace the impress of Guazzo's works upon his contemporaries and immediate followers in Italy. He had an undeniable vogue in Germany which is made evident by the bibliographical evidence here adduced, but the subject needs thorough investigation. We could well spare another Inaugural-Dissertation on the style of Dante, or Boccaccio, or Tasso (or a phoneme count for Le satire ofAriosto) in exchange for an honest first-hand study of Guazzo's fortunes in Germany. Likewise, however excellent the pages devoted to La Civil conversatione inM. Magendie La Politesse mondaine, there is still room for a book on Guazzo in France. And, although MissAnderson "Webster's Debt to Guazzo" and SirEdward Sullivan Introduction to his edition of the Pettie-Young Civile Conversation constitute a beginning, much is left to be said--and unsaid--concerning Guazzo and English drama.

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