The five comedies included in this volume, three of which have never been translated into English, present a characteristic sampling of comic form as it was interpreted by some of the most important Latin humanists of the Quattrocento. Pier Paolo Vergerio's Paulus (ca. 1390), Philodoxeos fabula (1424) by Leon Battista Alberti, Philogenia et Epiphebus (ca. 1440) by Ugolino Pisani, Chrysis (1444) by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II), and Tommaso Medio's Epirota (1483) span nearly the entire period and are a valuable gauge of its changing literary tastes, tastes nourished by the ancient comic drama of Plautus and Terence. While the earliest of the humanist comedies seem almost medieval in their moralism, the didacticism of the pulpit is cleverly seasoned with the unabashed realism of the brothel to produce a mixture that looks forward to the more modern, sophisticated comedies written in the vernacular during the Cinquecento.
Here are five plays from fifteenth-century Italy, all in Latin, translated into lucid English by Gary Grund...As is typical for the I Tatti Renaissance Library, the book is beautifully produced. Readers interested in the Renaissance, the reception of Roman comedy, or the development of humanist Latin will find these plays fascinating.
Expertly edited and set into context by Gary Grund...Grund's edition nicely shows how Renaissance comedy mixed ancient motifs with Christian lessons, and offers fascinating information on the rapid development of comic performance in the Renaissance from pantomimes carried out by characters, while a single narrator read all the lines, to full-blown performances on stages, acted out before scenery painted in the new one-point perspective.
[Grund] has produced fine translations in idiomatic English that are accurate, enjoyable, and tasteful (it is easier to offend against taste in translating comedy than most other genres). His annotations are brief, to the point, and genuinely useful. Altogether, he has done an admirably workmanlike job.
- 496 pages
- 5-1/4 x 8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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