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Gione's incredible facial mimicry, later used to effect by Italian comedian Toto , was dramatized by a special use of light techniques that favored violent contrasts of black and white in order to accentuate the sharpness of his facial features. These performers and others appeared in shorts that were produced on an industrial scale tintil the outbreak of WWI. There were also melodramas and comedies and even films about everyday life inspired by Italian verismo. By and , the cinema had become an accepted facet of the Itahan entertainment industry.
In , the government instituted censorship standards and taxes on both films and tickets. In this period, filmmaking was conducted primarily inside studios with artificial lighting. Naples became particularly important because of the efforts of Gustavo Lombardo, later of the Titanus production com- pany, who began as a foreign film distributor who founded the magazine Lux in with the intention of increasing the cultural status of the cinema.
There were also futurist films such as A. Bragaglia's Thais in accordance with the publication of the Futurist Manifesto on Cinema of the same year, a declaration about experimental cinema in accordance with the futur- ists, desire to find forms of expression that reflected the mechanized and industrial changes in Italy and the world. The founding of the Cines studios in made Rome one of the centers of the Italian cinema industry.
Cines aimed to conquer international film markets with large investments producing about 50 titles per year beginning in One of the most important filmmakers working for Cines was Enrico Guazzoni whose adap- tation of the Henryk Sienkiewicz novel with strong Christian themes Quo Vadis? Despite activity in Rome and even in Venice, Turin was the first capital of the Italian film industry during the silent period.
Turin was the country's industrial cen- ter, home of the Italian automobile industry. A Turin-based production company, Pasquali and Tempo, was rim by Ernesto Maria Pasquali, a journalist and playwright who created the Polidor comic films. Other pro- duction companies in Turin included Ambrosio and Itala Film.
Ambrosio succeeded in attracting important directors such as Luigi Maggi, who made the first version of The Last Days of Pompeii , a meter-long film, which became one of the first Italian films to break into the American market. The Itala studios featured Giovanni Pastrone a director who started his career with comic films and then moved into the historical genre. Cabiria opened with a full orchestra led by respected conductor Manilo Mazza perform- ing the Symphony of Fire theme composed by renowned composer Ildebrando Pizzetti.
Instead Cabiria has a hero, Fulvio Axilla, and his shaved-headed, barrel-chested Mussolini-like African servant, Maciste, in a story of a republican-era Rome fighting a rival Mediterranean empire Carthage and a foreign religion Baal or Moloch. Producers correctly expected Italian audiences in to read the similarities between the Roman victory in the second Punic War over the Baalite Carthaginians and the Italian defeat of an Islamic Turkish empire during the invasion of Libya.
Thus besides being a technical and artistic achievement, Cabiria anticipates the political and ideological currents that culminated in the efforts of pro-WWI interventionists such as D'Annunzio and Mussolini, who were instrumental in the decision of the Italian government to enter the War in Casa Ambrosio, a main competitor of Pastrone's Itala studios in Turin, bought the rights to many of D'Annunzio's novels and plays.
Between and at least 21 films of D'Annunzian derivation were produced in Italy. Indeed Pastrone's name does not appear in the open- ing title sequences, giving the impression that the film is entirely D'Annunzio's work. Due to D'Annunzio's influence everything in the film became more florid and bombastic. D'Annunzio derived the name Maciste from the Greek superlative for "Large. The sequences involving Sophonisba are made more exotic by the fact that her death symbolizes the disappearance of an entire civilization.
Carthage is destroyed because Cabiria was not sacrificed to the fire god Moloch. This plot fit into a decadentist discourse where self-annihilation is a culminating erotic experience. Sophonisba's exotic drawing room, smoking incense pots, and statuettes seem like the decorating catalogue for D'Annunzio's home on Lake Garda, the Vittoriale, with an art nouveau or liberty emphasis on rarity, extravagance, luxury, and oriental motifs.
It is an atmosphere that has often been equated with illicit sex, decadence, drugs, and illness, especially in authors such as Andre Huysmans, a source for D'Annunzio. The film's decor and plot exploited the transgressive elements implicit in such a setting and behavior, which was part of D'Annunzio's appeal and mirrored his lifestyle and reputation. But technology and the marvel of machines and inventions, the flash of Futurist propaganda, make an entrance in Cabiria.
D'Annunzian culture was fascinated with light, explosions, and the machine aes- thetics likely borrowed from F. T Marinetti's futurist excitement about mechanized glory. As a pilot during WWI, D'Annunzio had dropped heroic poems over Vienna, a feat that became well documented for it was one of the few examples of individual heroism that could be celebrated in that war. One scene in Cabiria that appealed to the turn-of-the century romantic fascination with technology is the burning of the Roman fleet at Syracuse by Archimedes's sun-reflecting mirrors.
Archimedes's ecstatic joy at his technological genius recalls the later commonplace of the mad scientist who pushes the limits of nature. Besides the technical achievements in portraying Moloch with thousands of extras and the use of high wattage flood-lights to simulate the escaping heat, the Moloch flesh furnace is a voyeuristic marvel, which plays on the primal fears of the specta- tor. Another of D'Annunzio's screenwriting contributions. In Metropolis , German director Fritz Lang adopted a similar theme when the workers' children are threatened by the break- down of the giant machine also called Moloch that powers the futuristic city.
The true star of Cabiria is Maciste, the strong man slave and the brawn to Fulvio's brains. The direct source of the character is the good giant, Ursus, who protects the Christian slave girl, Licia, in the novel Quo vadis? Turin, the city where Cabiria was produced and largely filmed, was also the epicenter of the Italian automobile industry with its Fordist manufacturing methods. In the pro-machine, futurist-romanticized culture and in the industrial and technological reality of the twentieth century, the physical body had lost power, particularly in warfare. Ironically, one of the most popular films in the Maciste film series ten such films were produced between and was The Warrior In the film an Itala film troupe is caught behind Austrian lines at the outbreak of the war, providing Bartolomeo Pagano, who plays Maciste, with an opportunity to manhandle extras in Austrian military uniforms.
This image of Maciste defeating the enemy in physical combat is emblematic of the divide between official and popular culture and the technological reality of the war. The Maciste figure has been one of the most enduring in film history from the Italian peplum epics of the s starring Steve Reeves as Hercules to the Hollywood films with Arnold Schwarzenegger as muscular robot in the Terminator series.
In the Maciste cycle it was common for Maciste not only to remain removed from any long-term love interest but also to work to reunite young lovers. Cabiria ends with Maciste playing the lute on a honeymoon yacht of Fixlvio and Cabiria with angles flying around the young lovers as they kiss. The most enduring legacy of Cabiria is the apparent influence that the figure of Maciste had over Benito Mussolini, who would rule Italy as Fascist dictator from to Between and , Mussolini transformed his public image from an anticlerical Socialist revolutionary into the Fascist icon of a naturally powerful tyrant dedicated to the memory and traditions of Roman glory.
The physical similarities between the Duce and the personality cult developed in the s around Mussolini and Maciste cannot be casual. As Maciste, Bartolomeo Pagano devel- oped a signature gait, with eyes glaring with arms folded and head thrown back, later adopted by Mussolini see figure 1. It is not clear who was the source of 14 ip33? Istituto LUCE newsreels in the s feature MussoUni with a bare chest and shaved head helping farmers to collect grain looking like an aged stunt double for Bartolomeo Pagano's Maciste in Cabiria.
The public image cultivated by Mussolini during the Fascist period as the all powerful Duce could be read as a Maciste-like figure speaking the language of D'Annunzio. Cabiria expressed another potential foxmdational narrative for the newly unified Italian nation of a pre-Christian romanita Romaness , particularly important for the later nationalist cxilture espoused by Mussolini's Fascist regime , which attempted to identify the newly imited Italy with the past glories of ancient Rome.
The film now lost was remade in by CamUlo Mastrocinque with Vittorio De Sica in the role of a blind gentleman who helps an unfortunate girl. Another Neapolitan, Elvira Notari, made approximately 60 films between and Notari was inspired by themes of the everyday life of the common peo- ple of Naples, especially of women, dealing with their passions and unhappiness. An important diva was Francesca Bertini, who began her career in the theater and then moved on to the cinema to work for the Film d'Arte Production Company in Naples.
Bertini's best-known work is Assunta Spina , an adaptation of a play by Neapolitan poet and dramatist Salvatore Di Giacomo The film, which Bertini codirected with Gustavo Serena, has been praised for the manner in which the details of everyday life in Naples are presented in an unadorned fashion. These include her violent tempered fiance Michele, his jealous rival the ne'er-do-well Raffaele, and the corrupt court official Federico who convinces Assunta to accept his sexual advances in exchange for the chance to see Michele in prison. The turning point of the drama occurs when Michele slashes Assunta's face and is sentenced to two years in prison despite Assunta's attempt during his trial to accept blame for his actions.
When Michele is released and kills Federico, Assunta takes the blame for the murder, her tragedy complete. The character of the long-suffering female was well established in the operatic tra- dition in works such as La traviata, Manon Lescalt, or La Bohenie to mention only a few nineteenth-century operas that feature doomed female protagonists. Films such as Bertini's Assunta Spina established the cinema as a venue for what would become the strappalacrime weepie or tearjerker melodrama. Pastrone's Cabiria had provided Maciste, a character who may be interpreted as a metaphor for Italian nationalistic impulses.
The suicidal princess Sophonisba in Cabiria is emblematic of the influence of trends such as decadentism and European high art in Italian consciousness see figure 1. In contrast, Assunta Spina represents a more humble sphere in everyday Italian society. Assunta is identified with the bare streets of Naples often appearing under a portrait of the Madonna with child in her room. She is deceived and brutalized by the immature males in her life and responds with self-sacrificial fatalism.
In , just before Italy's entry into WWI the Italian film industry produced 90 feature-length films and penetrated world markets, including the United States, where films such as Pastrone's Cabiria enjoyed long runs and wide distribution. After WWI the Italian film industry lost its position in world markets, a fate shared in countries like France, which also had vibrant prewar film industries.
The political and economic situation was extremely tense with strikes, demonstrations, and the reduction of the value of middle-class savings between and When universal male suffrage was granted in Italy in and competition began for the new voters. Catholic forces entered into politics with Don Sturzo's Partita Popolare after the lifting of the reruni novarum, the papal encyclical prohibiting Catholic participation in politics. However the events that would bring Italy under Fascist totalitarian rule were already in motion. He resigned as editor of the chief Socialist newspaper Avanti out of frustration at the Socialist Party's refusal to support Italian intervention in WWI.
In the political uncertainty and civil unrest following WWI, Mussolini formed his own organiza- tion, the Fascist Party, which eventually aligned with the nationalists. The election saw gains for the Socialists and the Catholic Popolari. Yet the two parties were unable to form a coalition. For the next election, Mussolini moved further to the political Right so that his platform had more in common with the policies of a conservative, moderate government — fiscal restraint, law and order and a nationalist foreign policy.
Mussolini also made concessions to the Socialists by promising to form Fascist worker and farmer unions in order to position his Fascist Party for a dominant role in Italian politics. In and the economic crisis that had followed the end of the war wors- ened and the continuing strikes and political unrest were not suppressed by the last moderate government.
The Socialists feared Allied military intervention in the event of a Marxist revolution as had occurred in Russia in In late , Mussolini's Fascists began a campaign of political violence, at times with the appar- ent consent of public safety officials. According to Fascist propaganda between and , Mussolini prevented a Bolshevik-style totalitarian revolution from taking place in Italy. In reality. Fascism brought the end of representative parliamentary government and the institution of Fascist totalitarian dictatorship. The ruling elite allowed and even encouraged Mussolini to enter into the government who was viewed as a milder, more controllable alternative to D'Annunzio, fresh fi-om his Fiume adventure.
But D'Annunzio's political methodology did not evolve in a vacuum. Trends in philosophy and sociology that influenced D'Annunzio and Mussolini included thinkers such as Gustav Le Bon and his theories on the effectiveness of political violence and dema- goguery to mold public opinion. Marinetti's iconoclastic call for spontaneity, impulse, and violence fostered a sense of bravado amorality as did Freidrich Nietzsche , with his reading of the Judeo-Christian tradition as slave morality. But Fascism also had anti-bourgeois elements, holdovers from Mussolini's days as a Socialist revolutionary.
The diffidence toward the upper middle class may be interpreted in the light of Oswald Spengler's reading of Western decadence, which in turn owed much to Darwinian theories on natural competi- tion. The Fascists, as D'Annunzio's Fiume volimteers before them, saw themselves as Darwinian agents whose violence coxald be rationalized as a consequence of their strength and audacity.
Of course it is easy to dress up in philosophical and cultural terms what may have actually been a generational conflict between Fascist black shirt squads whose fight song Giovinezza Youth was directed against their aging liberal. Catholic, monarchist or Socialist fathers. But a series of rifts in the Socialist leadership led to the formation of the Italian Communist Party in by Antonio Gramsci The division of the Italian Left into opposing factions rendered it incapable of profiting from the political and economic situation.
The government, led by the Liberal Party, failed to secure a peaceful solution and Italians responded to Mussolini's call for a return to law and order. The middle and property-owning classes were fearfiil that these difficult economic and political conditions could lead to a revolution patterned on the Russian Bolshevik revolution. The situ- ation was ripe for an opportunistic and decided leader like Mussolini to impose his will and his Fascist Party on the nation. A pivotal event was the decision by the Fascist leadership to march from their party congress in Naples to Rome in October Once in Rome, parading Fascists occupied the post office and other government buildings.
Support for the Fascists grew and in October of MussoHni was asked by the king to replace Luigi Facta as prime minister, perhaps unaware that he had just invited in a dictatorship that would last 21 years. Mussolini's appeal was based mainly on his promise of a "return to law and order," an end to strikes and the "fear of Bolshevism," a reassurance to the new middle class that they would not become "proletariarized," and finally, a promise that through dedication to military virtues Italy could become a Great Power reevoking the Roman Empire.
An important first step in the Fascist promulgation of the totalitarian state was the Acerbo Bill, which guaranteed the party receiving most votes in an election two-thirds of the seats in parliament. In , the Fascists attained a majority in parliament using a proportional representation law, which in various guises has continued sporadically to be a feature of the Italian parliamentary system. Mussolini's early policies appeased politicians who had acceded to his inclusion in government. In a speech to parliament in , Mussolini accepted responsibility for Fascist violence, a moment that commenta- tors have seen as the moment of the beginning of Fascist totalitarian dictatorship.
The Fascist movement thus led the country to dictatorship with the banning of opposition political parties after an attempt on Mussolini's life in Yet Mussolini was careful not to alienate the previous governing establishment, and to this end the Fascist Party slowly purged itself of its most violent black shirt, revolutionary elements. Mussolini fur- ther secured his position, appeasing Catholic sentiment by signing the Lateran accords in , creating the independent status of the Vatican under the gover- nance of the Catholic Church, and establishing Roman Catholicism as the official state religion, quite a jump from Mussolini's early days as an anticlerical agitator.
The Fascist system of Corporatism, which developed gradually and finally crystal- lized into the Chamber of Fasces and Corporations in , professed to be a sys- tem in which political representation was based not on residence, but on occupation whether in agriculture, transport, manufacturing, or self-employed professionals. Supposedly such a system would have eliminated class conflict.
But in practice Corporatism allowed the Fascist Party to maintain rigid control over the unions eliminating Catholic and Socialist union groups , while favoring busi- ness interests. By accepting a right-wing revolution in , the governing establishment underestimated Mussolini's abilities from his past as a journalist and communica- tor.
Other historians noted that the republican ideology of Mazzini's Risorgimento had never been a mass movement but was instead directed and con- trolled by an elite whose hold on popular consciousness was weak and who were overly dependent on Garibaldi's charisma, the Piedmontese monarchy, and its able prime minister Cavour. The regime's policy of exiling political dissidents, among them writers such as Cesare Pavese and Carlo Levi, furthered the formation of a conformist society that perpetuated Fascist rule.
The Fascist years did bring changes for large segments of the population, particularly in demographic and economic terms. Despite the restrictions of the regime, the s evidenced a movement toward urban, modern life characterized by a growth in consumer culture and sports attitudes perhaps best reflected in the romantic comedies directed by Mario Bonnard or Mario Camerini.
Sociologically these trends began with the movement toward the cities, an internal migration away from the countryside caused by demographic increases. Mussolini did achieve some successes in controlling the economy during the Great Depression. The regime oversaw the draining of marshes and the propagandistic high point of improving transportation scheduling — "making the trains run on time.
Fascism awarded a structural bureaucratic approach to economic and social wealth. It was the culture of clientilismo political patronage rather than the entrepreneurial verve that had characterized Italian economic development in the early part of the century by bourgeois industrialist families.
The totalitarian nature of Fascist government expanded with MussoHni's restrictions on freedom of the press and his autarkic policies of national self-sufficiency, which relieved the public of the responsibility of involvement in governmental or economic deci- sions. The world economic crisis of the s brought even more state control with the formation of large state-run industrial holding companies the IMI, the IRI, postwar ENI , and a national pension system the INPS created in to the point that by the late s Fascist Italy rivaled Soviet Russia for the level of state involvement in the economy.
In response to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the League of Nations instituted economic sanctions on trade with Italy. Films from the late s like Mario Camerini's U Signor Max have references to the consumption of embar- goed foreign products as unpatriotic. Mussolini's regime reacted by turning fur- ther inward and instituted economic and cultural politics known by the catch word autarchia autarky or self-sufficiency. The regime policy of national eco- nomic self-sufficiency or autarky had already been evoked in attempts to resolve a grain shortage with the Battle of Grain in , even turning some city parks into grain fields.
The Battle of the Lira and the freezing of exchange rates for the Italian lira with major currencies such as the British Sterling at quota novanta ninety lire per British pound and the Battle of Gold were further autarkic attempts to stop the rienforce the national currency, the lira. After the conclusion of the war in Ethiopia May and before the Pact of Munich May and alliance with Hitler's Nazi Germany, Mussolini declared a period of peace, which was well received by the populace. In September of , Mussolini's Fascist regime passed the leggi razziali racial statutes , which prohibited Jews from inter- marriage, attending public schools, holding public office.
There were even limits put on the amount of real estate that an Italian Jew could possess in his own country. When university professors were required to sign a loyalty oath and join the party, few gave up their chairs and refused. Some intellectuals who rose to prominence in the postwar period have subsequently been embarrassed by the reappearance of syco- phantic letters to Mussolini or by evidence of concrete ties to the regime, although many cultural figures including Luigi Pirandello, Giuseppe Ungaretti and Carlo Emilio Gadda were at times supporters of the regime during periods of the ventennio.
Fascism originally had Utopian and anti-bourgeois elements, held over from Mussolini's days as a Socialist revolutionary. Once in power, Mussolini was careful not to alienate the upper class and the establishment. By the s, Fascist high functionaries aspired to noble titles to legitimize their position in society.
The Fascist gerarchi leadership gained ever-closer ties to the upper echelons of Italian society best demonstrated by the showy wedding in between Mussolini's daughter Edda and Count Galeazzo Ciano, the son of an industrialist who had flown missions with D'Annunzio in WWI.
Ciano later became head of Mussolini's press office in , a position upgraded to the Undersecretariat for the Press and Propaganda in The position eventually came a separate ministry, the Ministry of Cixlture and Propaganda Miniculpop , which oversaw an agreement reached with the United States for the limitation of Hollywood film exports to Italy to films per year. Despite the desire of Fascist officials for aristocratic legitimacy, the regime did have an anti-aristocratic policy, at least linguistically. The campaign to require the second person plural voi as the common form of address instead of the feudal and feminine third person singular Lei was at its height in with complete substi- tution promulgated in This linguistic policy aimed to democratize Italian speech and create a Fascist culture that would not accept the feudal feminine forms of address.
Between and and after , Italian regional dialects were featured and even encour- aged in films. The ItaUan practice of dubbing foreign films, rather than distributing them with subtitles began in shortly after the introduction of sound technology to film. Italian intellectuals such as Elio Vittorini and Cesare Pavese cultivated an image of America as a source of anti-Fascist culture. There was a demographic cam- paign of tax benefits for large families. Mussolini's Duce personality cult mimicked cultural commonplaces from ancient Rome.
In order to instill a sense of national identity and prestige in Italian popular culture, children and teenagers were enlisted in youth groups such as the Balilla, the figli e figlie della lupa sons and daughters of the she wolf , Avanguardisti for teenage males , and Giovani Italiane young Italian girls. Such groups are depicted ironically in films such as FeUini's Amarcord Spectator sports had been immensely important in the ideology of Mussolini's regime.
With a boxing heavyweight world champion, Primo Camera in , and two World Cup soccer victories in and , Mussolini trumpeted the return of the ancient virtue of the Italian people and commissioned stadiums and public sports culture. The equation of athletics with nationalism made its way to films including depictions of fascist university games in Mario Bonnard's lo sua padre , — a film adaptation of an Alba De Cespedes novel. There was also interest in the record setting and technological culture.
Minister Italo Balbo made a record setting flight by piloting a squadron to Chicago in Tazio Nuvolari had a remarkable career as a race car driver in the increasingly popular formula 1 and Mille Miglia automobile rally races around the Italian peninsula. Bicycle rac- ing was also immensely popular, rivaling soccer in popularity, with the exploits of champions such as Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali firing popular imagination in races such as the Giro d'ltalia Tour of Italy. Sporting events were transmitted by the Italian state radio instituting a popular element in national culture.
Italy's first Nobel Prize for literature after nationalist poet Giosue Carudcci was won by Sardinian novelist Grazia Deledda in Yet, a literary figure who continued to yield huge influence during the Fascist period remained Gabriele D'Annunzio D'Annunzio was strongly opposed to a bour- geois state, preferring the old aristocracy of birth and means, the only class that, in his view, had any cultural validity and understood his poetic need to defend his visions of beauty and genius.
D'Annunzio had also been able to identify himself with patriotism and militarism, a mantle he had appropriated after the death of poet Giosue Carducci. Equally important for his controversial views of the world and of man in this particularly critical time of Italian life is Luigi Pirandello , a true innovator in world theatrical history. Pirandello won the Nobel Prize for literature in His strong philosophical pessimism, by which human unhappiness is not so much a consequence of the social system, but of human nature, brought him to accept Fascism and dictatorship as the least possible evil in order to control the evil of human nature.
Pirandello saw man as unable to break out of his tragic soli- tude or to communicate with others or even with himself. The only way of escape is either madness or a painful form of resignation. Pirandello's theatrical works like Six Characters in Search of an Author used traditional schemes, charac- ters, and situations, but within such schemes, the action always transgresses and criticizes the traditional system of thought and behavior. Another important writer was the Trieste-born author Italo Svevo who dabbled in psychoanalysis and took English lessons from a young James Joyce, then living in the Adriatic port city of Trieste.
Svevo's masterpiece The Confessions ofZeno underlines the frailty of the individual. For many of these authors the Fascist period was a period of reflection and preparation for intellectual production after WWII. Other artists, like still Ufe painter Giorgio Morandi , who also enjoyed increased recognition after WWII, kept to their craft choosing subject matter which could not provoke the regime.
During the Fascist period, it remained possible for authors to write and publish even if they were not open supporters of the regime, as long as their works did not contain explicit political attacks. In fact censorship on literary works was not as severe as on the press, for example, for the regime actively discouraged not only publication of articles critical of the govern- ment but even crime beat reporting, which could besmirch the propaganda of the new "Fascist era.
The outbreak of WWI in interrupted this vital period of Italian filmmaking and initiated a critical period of stasis so that in the s Italy lost much of its prewar interna- tional market share. American film studios began to arrive in Italy to make their films on loca- tion and to take advantage of Italian expertise and craftsmanship. MGM filmed the first version of Ben Hur in the Cines studios in Rome and other Hollywood film studios also opened production and distribution offices in Italy.
Unlike Russian dictator Joseph Stalin or German dictator Adolf Hitler who had moved to support filmmaking, Mussolini was initially interested in newsreels for the propagation of his personality cult. It was also the year of the lowest production 14 features since the early days of the cinema. The themes and style of the contemporary Italian national cinema truly begin in this period and the regime's attitudes toward the cinema changed accordingly.
By the mid- s, Mussolini was identified with a placard proclaiming that the cinema was V arma piii forte the strongest weapon , although it has not been established that Mussolini ever actu- ally made the statement. Mussolini's son Vittorio took an active interest in pro- ducing and screenwriting as well as editing the journal Cinema. The regime also added the Centra Sperimentale di Cinematografia CSC film school in Rome in order to further develop the national film industry. Joining him in lecturing were Umberto Barbaro , Alessandro Blasetti , and Francesco Pasinetti In the same year, Cinecitta Cinemacity , one of the world's largest film studios, was inaugurated by Mussolini in Rome for the development of a national film industry to bring the culture of Rome to the world.
The Italian professional cinema of the late s became a training ground for postwar Italian film directors. In only 32 films were produced in Italy and Hollywood studios enjoyed nearly three-fourths of the Italian market, compared with only 13 per- cent for Italian productions. With trade barriers against Hollywood films, by , the number of Italian films produced increased to 1 17 with Italian production accounting for over 50 percent of the domestic market. But the regime's demands did not equal those of the Nazi government on the German film industry or Soviet demands on Russian filmmakers.
On the whole, the regime encouraged Italian directors to make films that depicted Italian life in a positive light. However intellectuals including Luigi Chiarini, Umberto Barbaro, and Francesco Pasinetti were able to continue their discussions of film theory in journals like Bianco e nero. Film directors who did not wish to blatantly praise the regime could make films that were politically "neutral" or that had elements that indirectiy appealed to the regime's political agenda such as Pietro Micca , a film directed by Aldo Vergano and written by Sergio Amidei about the Piedmontese defense against a French invasion in the early s in which a humble miner blows himself up in order to deliver Turin.
Alessandro Blasetti One avenue by which directors could avoid explicitly criticizing Fascism was the historical or pseudo-historical spectacular film, a genre with a long tradition in Italy, going back to Cabiria and The Last Days of Pompeii. Probably the best rep- resentatives of the s historical dramas trumpeting the heroic and nationalis- tic values dear to Fascist culture ministers are the early films of Alessandro Blasetti.
Like many Italian directors Blasetti started his career as a critic and jour- nalist. Blasetti was influenced by the reaction against the Idealist philosophy of Benedetto Croce, which criticized technical elements in artistic expression. Once Blasetti became a director, he borrowed from the for- malists, particularly in terms of camera angles and shots that depicted a strong relationship between characters and their natural surroundings.
Sole was hailed as a rebirth for Italian cinema. The film focused on seemingly nonprofessional actors and popular themes, techniques that would become trademarks of the famed neorealist period in the s. Blasetti's career during the Fascist period is remarkable for its depth and variety. After his silent debut with Sole, Blasetti made Nerone a collection of the work of comedian Ettore Petrolini , which included the Bravo, grazie!
Well done, thank you! Blasetti also excelled in costume dramas like the Renaissance era drama Ettore Fieraniosca depicting the dis- fida di Barletta the skirmish between Italian and French knights at Barletta , based on a novel by Massimo D'Azeglio. In filmmakers were invited by the Fascist regime to commemorate the decennale, the tenth anniversary of Mussolini's accession to power with the March on Rome.
Blasetti's contribution to the commemorative celebration of the regime is a film that offers some stylistic similarities to the neorealist films of the postwar period for the use of nonprofessional actors, on location shooting, and a focus on lower-class characters see figure 2. In the counter- parts of Manzoni's Renzo and Lucia are the Sicilian couple Carmelo and Gesuzza, who postpone their wedding when the German speaking mercenary troops of the Bourbon regime invade their Sicilian village.
Padre Costanzo from plays a role similar to Manzoni's heroic priest Fra' Cristoforo by providing moral leader- ship and a plan for the young man to escape. In Manzoni's novel. The Betrothed, Renzo the inexperienced country lad enters Milan, a city where the laws and customs he is accustomed to no longer apply. In Carmelo makes a similar voyage into northern Italy, first to Civitavecchia and later to Genoa. Rather than the bread riots of Manzoni's novel, Carmelo is confused by the myriad voices of Italy's different political factions.
He meets a pro-republican Mazzinan, a papist Giobertian, a Tuscan who favors regional autonomy, ecstatically singing Piedmontese troops, and republicans who argue about the primacy of Italian patriots such as CamiUo Cavour or Massimo D'Azeglio. Each of these members of Garibaldi's contingent in the film represents a faction of the future Italy: Catholics, republicans, monarchists, and above all the different regions of Italy identified by accent and mannerism. Garibaldi as men of providence whose charisma could unify the diverse forces behind a common cause.
The film focuses on a small town split between Fascist and anti-Fascist factions culminating in the death of Mario, a twelve-year-old boy at the hands of anti-Fascists, an event which Blasetti presents as a part of the build up to the Fascist March on Rome in Like the commonplace of the defense of children provides the ration- ale for action, although depictions of the near civil war level of violence of the period in Blasetti's film is limited to a few scenes of street fighting and forced- feeding of cod liver oil.
Propaganda ministers, such as Alessandro Pavolini, did not openly object to the creation of a parallel between the Fascist March on Rome and Garibaldi's impresa dei mille in P However Old Guard was initially received coolly by Fascist officials during a period as the regime was more inter- ested in depicting Fascism's imperial aspirations than its revolutionary origins.
In fact the film was released because Mussolini apparently enjoyed the film immensely. The fact that Old guard received a lukewarm government reception is indicative of some of the changes and contradictions undergone by Fascism and the party since the rad- ical revolutionary period of portrayed in the film. The case of Old Guard gives an idea of the line to be treaded by directors dur- ing the Fascist years, even by those making pro-Fascist films such as Blasetti.
Direct portrayals of Fascism were actually somewhat rare in 1 s Italian cinema. In Forzano's film an amnesiac blacksmith is brought back to his senses when reminded of catch-phrases from the March on Rome. In this film, an Italian communist deserter in WWI changes his politics and sacrifices himself for the Fascist cause just before the March on Rome. The small number of dramas directly portraying Fascism indicates that filmmakers and producers prudently preferred to dress political themes in histor- ical garb.
Indirect portrayals of the regime blurred the manner in which the Fascists attained power and helped to avoid the threat of censorship. Although many directors worked in the genre, the director most identified with this type of film is Mario Camerini However it was in the romantic and sentimental comedies that Camerini made his mark. His first films as director. Jolly is the tragic story of a clown's love affair with a plot much like Fellini's La strada In Camerini wrote a brief article that recommended using inexperi- enced actors because of their tendency to follow direction more closely than professional actors.
Camerini also reveals an admiration for the style of Soviet formalists specifically mentioning Vsevolod Pudovkin's Film Technique. Thus Camerini had direct contact with the Hollywood style and cultural conventions centered on the sentimental treat- ment of a good deed rewarded with a happy ending. The husband assumes the identity of the governor and the natural imbalance caused by the governor's abuse of power is overturned for a happy ending.
Mussolini wanted to prohibit the release of the film, but after the intervention of culture minister Alessandro Pavolini and severe cuts, the film was released in a minute version. De Sica developed the Camerini romantic comedy model with his career-long collaborator, screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, another figure of pivotal importance in postwar Italian cinema, whose career began with Camerini.
The benign depictions of social tensions resolved in the Hollywood tradition of the happy ending in light comedies like It Signor Max and Doctor Beware could be seen as indication of the anni del con- senso period. In Doctor Beware, three love interests vie for the attention of an irre- sponsible pediatrician played by De Sica.
Anna Magnani plays Loretta, a fast talking and fast living show girl. Adriana Benetti, who would also star in Blasetti's Four Steps in the Clouds is a poor orphan girl who eventually wins the doctor's heart and Irasem Dilian is the spoiled daughter of a rich mattress manufacturer. The film has undertones of real social commentary. There is a dire depiction of Teresa working under the lustful eye of a butcher to the vapid frivolity of the rich girl aptly named Lilli Passalacqua Lilly PasstheWater , or the manner in which Teresa is spied upon by one of her fellow orphans, or the reliance as a universal cure all by the pediatricians at the orphanage on cod liver oil, a supplement with political overtones from its use to publicly humiliate Mussolini's opponents dur- ing Fascism's revolutionary period.
Films like Doctor Beware were important for the later development of the commedia alVitaliana comedy Italian style of the s and '60s which would rekindle the technical ability shown by De Sica to pro- vide quick and efficient characterizations that supplied often devastatingly ironic social commentary in a comic setting. Precursors of Neorealism Some films of the s had a production style and thematic content that presaged many pre-neorealist themes of the s, especially those deriving from the natu- ralistic or verismo currents in Italian literature.
One of the most important inno- vations of the journals Bianco e Nero and Cinema was that they both called for a more realistic film style in articles theoretical enough to avoid censorship. In short, the Cinema group wanted to rejuvenate Italian cin- ema by modeling it after Verga's prose. In , Leo Longanesi, a fervent Fascist journalist who reportedly coined the expression "Mussolini is always right," wrote about the ideal film style of taking the camera into the streets to observe reality, a statement similar to those expressed by Cesare Zavattini, the later theoretician of the neorealist style of the s.
By the early s, the idea of neorealism as a style of cinema was gaining a strong foothold. Umberto Barbaro published an article entitled "Neorealismo" in the review Film in Such films did not accept distinctions between documentary and fictional film narratives. Visconti was born into the Milanese aris- tocracy in The Visconti name stands alongside other great ruling families in Italian history such as Delia Scala and the Medici.
Luchino enthusiastically devel- oped his cultural and artistic interest in theater and opera. Before long, Visconti was attracted to film and traveled to France to assist Jean Renoir on Toni , a film about an Italian immigrant in France whose unhappy marriage and involve- ment in a violent and tragic love triangle has been seen as a precursor of the Italian neorealist style for its spare photographic imagery, multilinguistic cast, and grip- ping storyline about the passions of humble people.
Obsession is a stark vision of life in the Po Valley region of northern Italy with close attention to environmental details and an unflattering treatment of daily life in Italy contrary to the regime's social self-image, which removed the film from circulation. The film evidences the early contrast between melodrama and the fatalism that woidd become a part of the Italian art cinema decades later.
These films faced potential censorship due to plots based on themes per- ceived as an affront to the regime's image of the family based upon female sub- servience and male virility extending from the Duce to the masses. Yet such rebellious or antisocietal roles for females were not unusual in the Fascist-era cin- ema. In both these films the heroines come from a foreign national and political culture, Russian Bolshevism, and their role was to present the evils of the alternate totalitarian political system.
One of actress Clara Calamai's films before Visconti's Obsession was Boccaccio directed by Marcello Albani in which Calamai assumes male dress in order to impersonate her uncle, the fourteenth century writer Giovanni Boccaccio, because she is jealous of the female conquests of her cousin, Berto. This early reference to Boccaccio gives an indication of the continuing importance of female roles in the Italian cinema, a tradition from the days of the diva-like Francesco Bertini, which would continue after the war.
In Hollywood musicals of the s, the kicking rockette choruses mimicked the lever actions of factory machine and fused female sexual energy with the machine imagery. Besides chorus lines in this Fordist con- text, the standard for a s female physical display in the cinema was Claudette Colbert's hitchhiking stocking readjustment scene in Frank Capra's It Happened One Night 1 , mimicked in the Italian cinema by Assia Noris in Camerini's I'll Give a Million Overall the s and early s were an incredibly vibrant period for the Italian cinema, which like French cinema imder Nazi Vichy rule, enjoyed increased production due to autarkic policies that kept Hollywood films out of theaters.
The strength of Italian production in comedies, biopics, and even historical epics evidence continuity in the Italian cinema and the development of a cadre of professionals who would take the lessons learned during the s and early s into the postwar period. Of course production decreased due to the interruption of the war, whose end in meant the beginning of the next step in the realist movement: neorealism itself.
Mussolini saw the Rome-Berlin Axis as a chance for Italy to achieve Great Power status, a desire only partially satisfied by Mussolini's conquest of Ethiopia in and his exuberant rhetoric claiming that the Empire had finally returned to the "seven hUls of Rome" after 20 centuries of history. But Hitler's early string of successes in Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and France convinced MussoHni to enter this war on what he mistakenly judged to be the winning side in part to order to avoid the limited territorial concessions of the pace mutilata mutilated peace as defined by D'Annunzio peace treaty following WWI.
The tide of the war began to turn against the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan by the fall of with Allied victories on the North African front and the Russian counteroffensive. On July 10, , Allied armies landed in Sicily reportedly aided by informants connected to imprisoned Sicilian mafia bosses from New York. Ciano was always a bit at odds with the Utopian, anti-bourgeois attitudes, or memories, of his maximalist father-in-law.
The tension between the aristocratic status quo and Fascist iconoclasts was never fully resolved. The anti- aristocratic attitudes resurfaced in the last days of Fascism when Ciano, who had apparently voiced criticism of the alliance with Germany, was executed for his dis- loyalty after his vote in the Fascist Grand Council allowing inquiry into Mussolini's actions following the Allied invasion of southern Italy in On the pretext of a meeting, Italian king Victor Emmanuel III reportedly had Mussolini arrested and taken to prison reportedly in an ambulance!
Table of contents
Victor Emmanuel then appointed WWI hero and conqueror of Abyssinia, General Badoglio , as head of an interim government before fleeing to Puglia, a region in southeastern Italy not under German or Anglo-American miHtary con- trol. Between July 25, , and September 8, , the Italian peninsula reeled in political instability.
General Badoglio secretly negotiated an armistice with Anglo- American forces. When news of negotiations for an armistice between the Italian monarchy and the Allies was radio broadcast by Badoglio on September 8, neither Anglo-American forces nor the Italian Army which had received ambiguous instructions from the king's generals were able to prevent German forces from gaining military control over much of the peninsula.
On September 12, Mussolini was rescued by German paratroopers from the prison-fortress at Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi region. Thus from until , Italy was effectively divided in half. The Anglo-Americans controlled much of the south. Following instructions from Moscow, Togliatti had announced the svolta di Salerno the Salerno about face , which instructed Communist Party members and sympathizers to cooperate with monarchists and other anti-Fascist forces. Partisan resistance groups under the general heading of the Committee of National Liberation CLN enHsted the participation of former Italian soldiers, interested in avoiding the Republic of Salo draft.
The success of the underground Resistance added significantly to the prestige of the Italian Communist Party, which had provided important members of the Resistance leadership. In March of , the CLN mobilized general strikes in the north calling for an end to the war. Catholic forces joined in the Resistance as the Vatican began to position itself for a postwar world to defer embarrassment regarding the perceived inaction of Pope Pius XII against Nazi-Fascist policies.
By the end of the war there were popular uprisings in Milan, Domodossola, Turin, and Genoa. Allied liberators not only had to expel the Nazi German troops, but also disarm the victorious Resistance iighters and control their own often undisciplined multinational forces. By April , the war entered its final stages in Europe. Mussolini tried to escape incognito into Switzerland but was captured, killed near Dongo, and brought back to Milan and hung by his feet with his faith- ful mistress Clara Petacci and others at Piazzale Loreto, the site of an earlier Fascist atrocity.
The existence of a near state of civil war during between monarchists in southeastern Italy, partisan groups fighting Fascist sympathizer draftees of the Republic of Salo which included important postwar figures such as dramatist Dario Fo and German regular troops proved that there had been an indigenous reaction against Fascism. The myth of the Resistance allowed Italians to attenuate the level of war guilt felt in Germany, for example, for the industrial scale of the atrocities committed against Jews and other ethnic groups in the Holocaust.
These include infighting between Red Communist and White Catholic factions in the Resistance itself, which resulted in atrocities including the incidents depicted in Renzo Martinelli's film Porzus Another often overlooked aspect of the period was the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousand of Italians from the coast of Istria in contemporary Slovenia and Croatia.
After the fall of Mussolini's Fascist regime and its shortlived heir the Republic of Salo, there followed a period of civil strife, political reprisals and summary executions with numbers of victims approaching the controversial figure of 20, In May of , King Victor Emmanuel III abdicated in favor of his son Humbert, a move insufficient to quell the memory of the Savoy monarchy's policies during Fascist accession and rule.
The process of establishing a post-Fascist order was not entirely smooth and gave rise to the term camaleontismo turncoatism to describe the opportunism of ex- Fascists to identify with the new political order. There was also a certain cynicism in the electorate exemplified by the short-term rise of the Fronte del Uomo Qualunque The Whatever Man Front led by writer Guglielmo Giannini The Cultural and Literary Roots of Neorealism Although the term neorealism was coined in the early s, the postwar moment of neorealism has deep roots in Italian culture.
Yet if we regard the matter of this new literature, rather than its geographical distribution, we shall more correctly designate it by the title Franco-Italian. In the first or Latin period, the Italians used an ancient language. They now adopted not only the forms but also the speech of the people from whom they received their literary impulse. It is probable that the Lombard dialects were still too rough to be accommodated to the new French style. The cultivated classes were familiar with Latin, and had felt no need of raising the vernacular above the bare necessities of intercourse.
But the superior social development of the French courts and castles must be reckoned the main reason why their language was accli- matised in Italy together with their literature. Just as the Germans before the age of Herder adopted polite culture, together with the French tongue, ready-made from France, so now the Lombard nobles, bordering by the Eiviera upon Provence, borrowed poetry together with its diction, from the valley of the Rhone. With the langue cVoc came the various forms of troubadour lyric. Without dis- placing the local dialects, these imported languages were used and spoken purely by the nobles ; while a hybrid, known as franco -italian, sprang up for the common people, who listened to the tales of Eoland and Einaldo on the market- place.
The district in which the whole mass of this foreign literature seems to have flourished most at first, was the Trevisan March, stretching from the Adige, along the Po, beyond the Brenta and past Venice, to the base of the Friulian Alps. It is probable that it began to flourish about the end of the twelfth, and declined in the middle of the thirteenth century. Dante alludes to it in a famous passage of the ' Purgatory ' : ' In sul paese ch' Adige e Po riga, Solea valore e cortesia trovarsi Prima die Federigo avesse briga.
There are many traces of advanced French civilisation in this district, among which may be mentioned the exhibition of Miracle Plays upon the French type at Civitale in the years and , and the ' Castello d' Amore ' at Treviso described by Rolandini in the year Yet, though the Trevisan Marches were the nucleus of this Gallicising fashion, the use of French and Proven9al spread widely through the North and down into the centre of Italy.
Numerous manuscripts in the langue Toil attest the popu- larity of the Arthurian romances throughout Lonibardy, ' xvi.galaxysuperlucky.hipwee.com/best-messenger-locate.php
Francis first composed poetry in French. Dante in the ' Convito ' thought it necessary to stigmatise ' those men of perverse mind in Italy who commend the vulgar tongue of foreigners and depreciate their own. The Proven9al lyric, as was natural, attracted the attention of the nobles ; and since feudalism had a stronger hold upon the valley of the Po than on any other district, Lombardy became the chief home of this poetry.
Not to mention the numerous Provencal singers who sought fortune and adventure in Northern Italy, about twenty-five Italians, using the langue cVoc, may be numbered between the Marchese Alberto Malaspina, who held Lunigiana about , and the Maestro Ferrara, who lived at the Court of Azzo VII.
The person of one of them, Sordello, is familiar to every reader of the ' Purgatory. But its operation was not so simple as that of the Proven9al lyric. We can trace for instance a marked difference between the effect produced by the Chansons de Geste and that of the Arthurian tales. The latter seem to have been appropriated by the nobles, while the former found acceptance with the people. Nor was this unnatural. That uncompromising history of warfare hardly suited a society which had developed the courtesy and the romance of chivalry. It represented the manners of an antecedent age of feudalism.
Therefore the tales of the Eound Table arose to satisfy the needs of knights and ladies, whose thoughts were turned to love, the chase, the tournament, and errantry. The Arthurian myth idealised their newer and more refined type of feudal civility. It was upon the material of this romantic Epic that the nobles of North Italy fastened with the greatest eagerness. No one has forgotten how the tragedy of Lancelot and Guinevere proved, in a later day, the ruin of Francesca and her lover.
The Chansons de Geste formed the stock- , in-trade of those ' Cantatores Francigenarum ' who crowded the streets and squares of Lombard cities. They had become a public nuisance and impeded traffic. The rubrics of one or two will suffice to show how the names were Italianised. Qui conta come la damigcUa di Scalot viori per amore di Lanciallotlo de Lac. Qui conta delta reina Isotta e di m. Tridano di Leonis. The Carolingian Cycle, on the contrary, introduced personages with a good right to he considered historical, and dwelt upon familiar names and traditional ideas.
We are not, therefore, surprised to find that this Epic took a strong hold on the popular imagination, and so penetrated the Italian race as to assume a new form on Italian soil, while the Arthurian romance survived as a pastime of the upper classes, and underwent no important metamorphosis at their hands. In the course of this volume, I shall have to show how, when Italian literature emerged again from the people after nearly a century of neglect, it was the transformed tale of Charlemagne and Roland which supplied the Italian nation with its master-works of epic poetry— the ' Morgante ' and the two ' Orlandos.
Literature at this stage was exotic and arti- ficial ; but the legacy transmitted to the future was of vast importance. On the one side, the courtly rhymers who versi- fied in the Proven9al dialect, bequeathed to Sicily and Tuscany the chivalrous lyric of love, which was destined to take its final and fairest form from Dante and Petrarch.
On the other hand, the populace who listened to the Song of Roland on the mai'ket-place, prepared the necessary conditions for a specific and eminently characteristic product of Italian genius. Without a national epic, the Italians were forced to borrow from the French. But what they borrowed, they transmuted — not merely adding new mate- rial, like the tale of Gano's treason and the fiction of Orlando's birth at Sutri, but importing their own spirit, positive, ironical and incredulous, into the substance of the legend, Keux ; Gawain is Gauuan.
We possess sufficient MS. The process was not one of pure translation.
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The dialects were not fit for such per- formance. It may rather be described as the attempt of the dialects to acquire capacity for studied expression.
With French poems before them, the popular rhapsodes introduced dialectical phrases, substituted words, and, where this was possible, modified the style in favour of the dialect they wished to use. French still predominated. But the hybrid was of such a nature that a transition from this mixed jargon to the dialect, presented in a literary shape, was imminent. There is sufficient ground for presuming that the Italian dialects triumphed simultaneously in all parts of the pen- insula about the middle of the thirteenth century.
The peculiar problema offered by the conditions of poetry at Frederick II. It is difficult to understand the third or Sicilian period of literature without hypothi'bising an antecedent stage of vulgar poetry produced in local dialects. But, owing to the scarcity of documents, no positive facts regarding the date and mode of their ' See Adolfo Bartoli, Storia della Lettcratura IlaUana, vol. We have on this point to deal with matters of dehcate conjecture and minute inference ; and though it might seem logical to introduce at once a discussion on the growth of the Italian language, and its relation to the dialects which were undoubtedly spoken before they were committed to writing, special reasons induce me to defer this topic for the present.
While the North of Italy was deriving the literature both of its cultivated classes and of the people from France, a new and still more important phase of evolution was pre- paring in the South. Both Dante and Petrarch recognise the Sicilian poets as the first to cultivate the vulgar tongue with any measure of success, and to raise it to the dignity of a literary language. In this opinion they not only uttered the tradition of their age, but were also without doubt historically correct.
Whatever view may be adopted con- cerning the formation of the lingua illustre, or polished Italian, from the dialectical elements already employed in local kinds of poetry, there is no disputing the importance of the Sicilian epoch. We cannot fix precise dates for its duration. Yet, roughly speaking, it may be said to have begun in 11G6, when troubadours of some distinction gathered round the person of the Norman king, William II. It culminated during the reign of the Emperor Frederick II. Dante called Frederick, Cherico grande.
The author of the ' Cento Novelle ' described him as veramente spccchio del mondo in i arlare et in costumi, and spoke of his capital as the resort of la gcnte cli avea hontade. Yet the opinion may be hazarded that the cultivation of Itahan as a literary language was due in no small measure to the forethought and deliberate intention of an Emperor, who preferred his southern to his northern provinces. Unlike the Lombard nobles, Frederick, while adopting Provencal literature, gave it Italian utterance. This seems to indicate both purpose and prevision on his part. Wishing to found an Italian dynasty, and to acclimatise the civilisation of Provence in his southern capitals, he was careful to promote purely Italian studies.
There can at any rate be no doubt that during his reign and under his influence very consider- able progress was made towards fixing the diction and the forms of poetry.
He found dialects, not merely spoken, but already adapted to poetical expression, in more than one district of Italy. From these districts the most eminent artists flocked to his Court. It was there that a common type of speech was formed, which, when the burghers of Central Italy began to emulate the versifiers of Palermo, furnished them with an established style.
How the lingua aulica came into being admits of much debate. But we may, I think, maintain that the fundamental dialect from which it sprang was Sicilian, purified by com- parison with ProvenQal and Latin, and largely modified by ' Cento Kovelle, Milano, , Nov. Salimbene Pannensis, Ord. The difficulty of understanding the problem is in part removed when we remember the variety of representatives from noble towns of Italy who met in Frederick's circle, the tendencies of a dialect to refine itself when it assumes a literary form, and the continuous in- fluences of Court-life in common.
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Italians gathered round the person of the sovereign at Palermo from their native cities, must in ordinary courtesy have abandoned the crudi- ties of their respective idioms. This sacrifice could not but have been reciprocal ; and since Proven9al was not spoken to the exclusion of the mother-tongue, a generic Italian had here the best chance of development.
That this generic or Court Italian was at root Sicilian, we have substantial reasons to believe ; but that it exactly resembled the Sicilian of to- day, which does not greatly differ from extant documents of thirteenth and fourteenth century Sicilian dialect, seems too crude a supposition. Few poems of the Sicilian period, as will appear in the sequel, have descended to us in their primitive form. Not only was a common language instituted in the Court of Frederick, but the metrical forms of subsequent Italian poetry were either fixed or suggested by the practice of these early versifiers.
Few subjects are involved in darker obscurity than the history of metres — the creation of rhythmical structures whereby one national literature dis- tinguishes itself from another. Sicilian, it may be said in passing, presents close dialectical resemblance to Tuscan. Even the superficial alteration of the Sicilian ii and i into the Tuscan and e 'e. The Italian hendecasyllabic, the French Alexandrine, the Eng- lish heroic iambic, are obvious examples. This selection of a characteristic metre, and the essays through which the race arrives at its perfection, seem to imply some instinct, planted within the deeps of national personality, whereof the laws have not been formulated.
When we speak of the genius of a language, we do but personify this instinct, which appears to exercise itself at an early period of national development, leaving for subsequent centuries the task of refining and completing what had been projected at the outset. There- fore, nothing very distinct can be asserted about the origin of the hendecasyllabic iambic line, which marks Italian poetry. The rhyming system of the octave stanza may possibly be traced in Ciullo d'Alcamo's Tenzone between the lover and his mistress ; though it still needed a century of elaboration at the hands of popular rispetti- writers, to present it in completed form to Boccaccio's muse.
He points out that Ciullo's Tenzone: Eosa fresc' aulentissima— c' appar' in ver' 1' estate: and the Ballata of the Comari : Pur bi' del vin, comadr' — e no lo temperare: together with numerous compositions of the Northern Lombard school Milan and Verona , are written in Alexandrines. In the Lombardo- Sicilian age of Italian literature, before Bologna acted as an intermediate to Florence, this metre bid fair to become acclimatised.
But the Tuscan genius determined decisively for the hendecasyllabic. Pisa, , pp. Though the forms and language of Sicilian poetry decided the destinies of Italian, the substance of this htera- ture was far from being national. Under its Italian garb, it was no less an exotic than the Provencal and French com- positions of the Lombard period. After running a brilliant course in Provence, the poetry of chivalrous love was now declining to its decadence.
It had ceased to be the spon- taneous expression of a dominant ideal, and had degenerated into a pastime for dilettanti. Its style had become con- ventional ; its phrases fixed. The visionary science upon which it was based, had to be studied in codes of doctrine and repeated with pedantic precision. Frederick and his courtiers received it at the point of its extinction. They adhered as closely as possible to traditional forms, imitated time-honoured models, and confined their efforts to the repro- duction of the old art in a new vehicle of language.
There- fore, vernacular Italian poetry in this first stage of its existence presents the curious spectacle of literature decrepit in the cradle, hampered with the euphuism of an exhausted manner before it could move freely, and taught to frame conceits and cold antitheses before it learned to lisp.
Such, in general, may be said to have befn the character of the Sicilian or Italo-Provencal style. There is an unmistakable blend- ing of the Provencal tradition with indigenous realism, especially in such compositions as the Lament of Odo delle Colonne, the Lament of Euggieri Pugliesp, and the Tcnzone of Ciullo d'Alcamo.
AYhat might have been the destiny of Italian literature, if the Suabian House had maintained its hold on the Two Sicilies, and this process of fusion had been completed at Naples or Palermo, cannot even be surmised. Our knowledge of the earliest Italo-ProvenQal poetry is vague, owing to lack of genuine Sicilian monuments. We can only trace faint indi- cations of a progress toward greater freedom and more spon- taneous inspiration, as the 'courtly makers' yielded to the singers of the people. The battle of Benevento extinguished at one blow both the hopes of the Suabian dynasty and the development of Sicilian poetry.
Comparetli, Lologna, Eoinagiioli, Chivalry and feudalism had held their brief and feeble sway in Italy, and that was over. Neither in Lombardy among the castles, nor in Sicily within the Court, throbbed the real life of the Italian nation. That life was in the Communes.
It beat in the heart of the people — especially of that people who had made nobility a crime beside the Arno, and had outlawed the Scioperati from their City of the Flower. What the Suabian princes gave to Italy was the beginning of a common language. It remained for Tuscany to stamp that language with her image and superscription, to fix it in its integrity for all future ages, and to render it the vehicle of stateliest science and consummate art. The question of the origin of the Italian language pertains rather to philology than to the history of culture.
Dante's ' De Eloquio,' though based on unscientific principles of analysis, opened a discussion which exercised the acutest intellects of the sixteenth century. During the whole Roman period, it is certain that literary liatin differed in important respects from the vulgar, rustic or domestic, language. Thus while a Roman gentleman would have said habeo pulchruin equum, his groom probably ex- pressed the same thought in words like these : ego hahco ummi helium caballwn. The vulgar or rustic Latin continued, side by side with its literary coun- terpart, throughout the middle ages, forming in the first cen- turies of imperial decline the common speech of the Eomance peoples, and gradually assuming those specific forms which determined the French, Spanish, and Italian types.
There is little doubt that, could we possess ourselves of sufficient docu- ments, we should be able to trace the stages in this process. Both literary and vulgar Latin suffered transformation — the former declining in purity, variety, and vigour ; the latter diverging dialectically into the constituents of the three grand families of modern Latin. But the metamorphosis was not of the same nature in both cases. While the literary language had been fixed, arrested, and delivered over to death, the vulgar tongue retained a vivid and assimilative life, capable of biological transmutation.
French, Spanish, and Italian are modes of its existence continued under laws of organic variety and change. It would be unscientific to suppose that rustic Latin, even in the most flourishing period of the Roman Empire, was identical in all provinces.
From the first it must have held within itself the principles of diti'erentiation. And when we consider the varying conditions of soil, climate, ethnological admixture and political development in the several regions of the Roman world, together with the divers influences of con- tiguous or invasive races, we shall form some notion of the process by which the three languages in question branched off from the common stock of rustic Latin.
It is improbable that absolutely the same vulgar Latin was at any epoch spoken in two remote districts of the same province — on the Tuscan sea-coast, for example, and on the banks of Padus. Those of the north-west, for instance, inclined to Gallic, and those of the north-east to Illyrian idiom. Those of Lombardy in general exhibit a mix- ture of German words.
Those of Sicily and the South approxi- mate more to a Spanish type, and share the effects of Greek and Arab occupation. The dialects of the centre, especially the Tuscan, show marked superiority both in grammatical form and phonetic purity over the more disintegrated and corrupted idioms of North and South. It might be suggested that Tuscan, being less modified by foreign contact, continued the natural life of the old rustic Latin according to laws of unimpeded self- development.
But, however we may attempt to explain this problem, the fact remains that, while the Italian dialects present afQnities which show them to be of one linguistic family, it is Tuscan that completes and interprets them collectively. It is a dialect, but a dialect that realised the bent and striving of the language. AVe find it diificult to feel, far more to state, what qualities in a dialect and in the people of the district who use it, render one idiom more adapted to literary usage, more characteristic of the language it helps to constitute, more plastic and expressive of national peculiari- ties, than those around it.
Boniface VIII. It was something spiritually quintessential, something complementary to the sister dialects, which caused the success of Tuscan. Thus, while literary Latin, though dying and almost dead, was still taught in the grammar schools and used by learned men, the rustic Latin in the thirteenth century had disappeared. But this disappearance was not death. It was transformation. The group of dialects which represented the new phase in its existence, shared such common qualities as proved them to have had original affinity, and fitted them for being recognised as a single family.
The position, therefore, of the Italians at the close of the thirteenth century with regard to language, was this. But at home, in their families, upon the market-place, and in the prosecution of business, they talked the local dialects, each of which was more or less remotely representative of the ancient vulgar Latin. However these dialects might differ, they formed in combination a new language, distinct from the parent stock of rustic Latin, and equally distinct from French and Spanish.
See p. De Eloquio, lib. Dante points out their dilferences, but does not neglect their community of origin. If this was true of the refined type of Tuscan used by a great master, it was iio less true of dialectical compositions selected for the express pur- pose of exhibiting their rudeness. Dante clearly expected contemporary readers not only to interpret, but to appreciate the shades of greater and lesser nicety in the examples he culled from Roman, Apulian, Florentine and other vernacular literatures. This expectation proves that he felt himself to be dealing with a group of dialects which, taken collectively, formed a common idiom.
In these circumstances it was the problem of writers, at the close of the thirteenth century, to construct the ideal vulgar tongue, to discover its capacities for noble utterance, to refine it for artistic usage by the omis- sion of cruder elements existing in each dialect, and to select from those storehouses of living speech the phrases which appeared well suited to graceful utterance. The desideratum, to use Dante's words, was ' that illustrious, cardinal, courtly, curial mother- tongue, proper to each Italian State, special to none, whereby the local idioms of every city are to be measured, weighed, and compared.
The peculiar ' De Vulg. The self- consciousness of the Italians front to front with this problem, as revealed to us in the pages of the ' De Eloquio,' and the decision with which the great authors of the fourteenth century fixed a certain type of diction, accurately spoken nowhere, though nearer to the Tuscan than to any other idiom, may be reckoned among the most interesting phenomena in the history of literature. Tuscan predominated ; but that the masterpieces of the Trecento were not composed in any one of the unadulterated Tuscan dialects is clear, not merely from the contemporary testimony of Dante himself, but also from the obstinate discussions raised upon this subject by Bembo at a later period.
A guiding and controlling principle of taste determined the instinctive method of selection whereby Tuscan was adapted to the common needs of Italy. While treating of the Latin, the Lombard or Franco- Italian, and the Sicilian or Italo-ProvenQal periods of national development, I have hitherto neglected that plebeian litera- ture which, although its monuments have almost perished, must have been diffused in dialects through Italy after the opening of the thirteenth century.
Written for and by the people, the relics of this prose and poetry are valuable, not merely for the light they throw on the formation of language, but also for their indications of national tendencies. To tins class again belongs Bonvesin's ' Cinquanta Cortesie da Tavola,' a book of etiquette adapted to the needs of the small bourgeoisie upon their entrance into social life.
It is impossible to fix even an approximate date for the emergence of Italian prose. Law documents, deeds of settle- ment, contracts, and public acts, which can be referred with certainty to the first half of the thirteenth century, display a pressure of the vulgar speech upon the formal Latin of official verbiage. The effort to obtain precision, in designating some particular locality or some important person, forces the scribe back upon his common speech ; and these evidences of difficulty in wielding the Latin which had now become a dying language, prove that, long before it was written, Italian was spoken.
From the year we possess accounts of domestic expenditure written by one Mattasala di Spinello dei Lambertini in the Sienese dialect. Then follow Lucchese documents and letters of Sienese citizens, which, though they have no literary value, show that people who could write had begun to express their thoughts in spoken idiom. The first essays in. Italian composition for a lettered public were trans- lations from works already written by Italians in langue cVo'il. Among these a prominent place must be assigned to the version of Marco Polo's travels, which Rusticiano of Pisa first published in French, having possibly received them in Venetian from the traveller's own lips.
The ' Tesoro ' of Brunetto Latini and Egidio's ' De Regimine Principum' were Italianised in this way ; while numerous digests of Frankish romances, including the collection known as ' Conti di antichi Cavalieri,' appeared to meet the same popular demand. Reli- gious history and ethics furnished another library in the vernacular. After a like manner, books of rlaetoric and grammar in vogue among the medieval students were popu- larised in abstracts for Italian readers. Of scientific compilations, the ' Composizione del Mondo ' by Ristoro of Arezzo, embracing astronomical and geographical information, takes rank with the ethical and rhetorical works already mentioned.
The note of all these compositions is that they are professedly epitomes of learning, already possessed in more authentic sources by scholars. As such, they prove that there existed a class of readers eager for instruction, to whom books written in Latin or in French were not accessible. In a word, they indicate the advent of the modern tongue, with all its exigencies and with all its capabilities. On the other hand, it is clear from the ' Cento Novelle ' that the more dramatic episodes of history and myth were being submitted to the same epito- mising treatment.
Finally we have to mention Guittone of Arezzo's epistles as the first serious attempt to treat the vulgar tongue rhetorically, for a distinct literary purpose. From the dry records of incipient prose it is refreshing to turn to another species of popular poetry ; for poetry in the period of origins is always more adult than prose. Numerous fragments of political songs have been disinterred from chronicles, which can be referred to the thirteenth century.
Thus an anonymous Genoese rhymester celebrated the victories of Laiazzo and Curzola , while Giovanni Villani preserved six lines upon the siege of Messina More important, because of greater extent, are the laments and amorous or comic poems, which can be attributed to the same century. Passing to satirical poems, I may mention two pieces extracted from a Bolognese MS. They are not without French parallels ; but the mode of presentation is Italian, and the phrases have been transplanted without change from vulgar dialogue. Two romantic lyrics extracted from the same MS. Ballate, Sframbotti e Madrigali nei Secoli xiii.
A cura di Giosui Carducci Pisa, , pp. Hence we may take occasion to observe that those who accuse Lorenzo de' Medici and hig contemporaries of debasing popular taste by the deliberate introduction of licentiousness into art, exceed the limits of just censure. What is called the Paganism of the Renais- sance was indigenous in Italy. We find it inherent in vulgar literature before the date of Boccaccio ; and if, with the advance of social luxury, it assumed, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a more objectionable prominence, this should not be exclusively ascribed to the influence of humanistic studies or to the example of far-sighted despots.
Indeed, it can be asserted that the specific quality of the popular Italian genius — its sensuous realism, qualified with irony — emerges unmistakably in five most important relics of the thirteenth century, the ' Cognate,' the ' Comadri,' the Tenzone of the Maiden and her Mother ' Mamma lo temp' 6 ' See ibid. It is this objectivity, realism, sensuousness, which constitutes the strength of the Italians, and assigns the limitations of their faculty. In quite a different region, but of no less importance for the future of Italian literature, must be reckoned the religious hymns, which, during the thirteenth century, began to be composed in the vernacular.
The earliest known specimen is S. Francis' famous ' Cantico del Sole,' which, even as it is preserved to us, after undergoing the process of modernisa- tion, retains the purity and freshness of a bird's note in spring. After S. Francis, but at the distance of half a century, followed Jacopone da Todi, with his passionate and dithyrambic odes, which seem to vibrate tongues of fire.
To this religious lyric the Flagellant frenzy and the sub- sequent formation of Companies of Laudesi gave decisive ' The practical and realistic common sense of the Italians, rejecting chivalrous and ecclesiastical idealism as so much nonsense, is illustrated by the occasional poems of two Florentine painters — Giotto's Canzone on Poverty, and Orcagna's Sonnet on Love. I shall have in a future chapter to discuss the relation between the Umbrian Lauds and the origins of the Drama.
It is enough here to notice the part played in the evolution of the language by so early a transition from the Latin Hymns of the Church to Hymns written in the modern speech for private confraternities and domestic gatherings. We learn from this meagre review of ancient popular poetry that during the thirteenth century the dialects of each district had begun to seek literary expression. There are many indications that the products of one province speedily became the property of the rest.
Spontaneous motives were mingled with French and Proven9al recollections ; and already we can trace the unconscious effort to form a common language in the process known as Toscaneggiamento, or the translation of local songs into Tuscan idiom. What really happened was, that Frederick's Court became the centre of a widespread literary movement. The Sicilian dialect pre- dominating at Palermo over the rest, the poets of different provinces who assembled round the Emperor were subse- quently known as Sicilian.
Their songs, passing upward through the peninsula, bore that name, even when they had, as at Florence, been converted, by dialectical modifications, to the use of Tuscan folk. We must bear in mind that the poets of this Court were men of learned education — judges, notaries, officials. Dante makes dot tori nearly synonymous with trovatori. This proves that in the island, side by side with ' courtly makers ' and dottori, there flourished an original and vulgar manner of poetry.
The process of Tuscanisation referred to in the preceding paragraph is too important in its bearings on the problems of Italian language and literature, to be passed over without further discussion. We possess but a few stanzas in a pure condition. There is, therefore, reason to believe that when Dante treated of the courtly Sicilian poets in his essay 'De Vulgari Eloquio,' he knew their writings in a form already Tuscanised.
At the date of the composition of that essay, the Suabian House had been extinguished ; the literary society of the South was broken up ; and to Florence had already fallen the heritage of art. What is even more remarkable, the Bolognese poets, who preceded Dante and his peers by one generation, had abandoned their own dialect in favour of the purified Tuscan.
It Is reprinted in his volume of Saggi Critici, Napoli, The subject is fully discussed from a point of view at variance with my text by Adolf Gaspary, Die Siciliaiiisclie Dichterschule, Berlin, How came it that he included Florentine among the peccant idioms, and maintained that the true literary speech was still to seek? These doubts may in part at least be removed, when we remember the peculiar con- ditions under which the courtly poetry he praised had been produced ; and the indirect channels by which it had reached hnn.
In the first place, we have seen that it was composed in avowed imitation of Proven9al models, by men of taste and learning drawn from several provinces. They culled, for literary purposes, a vocabulary of colourless and neutral words, which clothed the same conventional ideas with elegant and artificial monotony. When these compositions underwent the further process of Tuscanisation which was easy, owing to certain dialectical affinities between Sicilian and Tuscan , they lost to a large extent what still remained to them of local character, without acquiring the true stamp of Florentine.
Even a contemporary could not have recognised in the verse of Jacopo da Lentino, thus treated, either a genuine Sicilian or a genuine Tuscan flavour. His language presented the appearance of being, as indeed it was, different from both idioms. The artifice of style made it pass for superior ; and, in purely literary quality, it was in truth superior to the products of plebeian inspiration.
We may prefer the racy stanzas of the ' Cognate ' to those frigid and exhausted euphuisms. But the critical taste of so great a master as even Dante was not tuned to any such preference. Though he recognised the defects of the Sicilian poets, as is manifest from his dialogue with Guido in the ' Purgatory,' he gave them all credit for elevating verse above the vulgar level. Its colourlessness and strangeness hid the fact that it had already, at the close of the thirteenth century, assumed the Tuscan habit, and that from the well- springs of Tuscan idiom the Italian of the future would have to draw its aliment.
The downfall of the Hohenstauffens and the dispersion of their Court-poets proved a circumstance of decisive benefit to Italian literature, by removing it from a false atmosphere into conditions where it freely flourished and expanded its originality. Feudalism formed no vital part of the Italian social system, and chivalry had never been more than an exotic, cultivated in the hotbed of the aristocracy. The impulse given to poetry in the South, under influences in no true sense of the word national — a Norman-German dynasty attempting to acclimatise Proven9al forms upon Italian soil — could hardly have produced a vigorous type of literature.
It is from the people, in centres of popular activity, or where the spirit of the people finds full play in representative society, that characteristic art must be developed. If the chances of our drama had been confined to Court-patronage or Sidney's ' Areopagus,' instead of being extended to the nation by free competition in the wooden theatres where Llarlowe and Shakspere appealed to popular taste, there is KtLle doubt but that England would have boasted only of a mediocre and academical stage.
When Italian poetry deserted Palermo for the banks of Arno, it exchanged the Court for the people ; the subtleties of decadent chivalry for the genuine impulses of a free com- munity ; the pettiness of culture for the humanities of a public conscious of high destinies and educated in a mascu- line political arena. Here the grand qualities of the Itahan genius found an open field. At Palermo the princes and their courtiers had been reciprocally auditors and poets. At Florence the people listened ; and the poets, sprung from them, were speakers.
Except at Athens in the golden age of Hellas, no populace has equalled that of Florence, both for the production of original genius, and also for the sensitiveness to beauty, diffused throughout all classes, which brings the artist and his audience into right accord. Two stages in the transition from Sicily to Florence need to be described. Guittone of Arezzo strikes the historian of literature as the man who first attempted to nationalise the polished poetry of the Sicilian Court, and to strip the new style of its feudal pedantry.
He wrote, however, roughly. He attempted more than he was able to fulfil. But his attempt, when judged by the conditions of his epoch, deserves to rank among achievements. Placed mid- way between Lombardy and Tuscany, Bologna shai'ed the instincts of the two noblest Italian populations — the Com- munes who wrested liberty from Frederick Barbarossa, and the Communes who were to give arts and letters to the nation. Receiving from his Italo-Proven9al predecessors the material of chivalrous love, and obeying the genius of his native city, Guido rhymed of love no longer as a fashionable pastime, but as the medium of philosophic truth.
Learning was the mother of the national Italian poetry. From Guido started a school of transcendental singers, who used the ancient form and subject-matter of exotic poetry for the utter- ance of metaphysical thought. The Italians, born, as it were, old, were destined thus to pass from imitation, through specu- lation, to the final freedom of their sensuous art. Of this new lyric style — logical, allegorical, mystical — the first masterpiece was Guido's Canzone of the Gentle Heart.
The code wag afterwards formulated in Dante's ' Convito. Guido's language is Tuscan ; not the Tuscan of the people, but the Tuscan of the Toscaneggiamenti. Herein, again, we note the importance of this poet in the history of literature. Working outside Florence, but obeying Florentine precedent, he stamps Italian with a Tuscan seal, and helps to conceal from Tuscans themselves the high des- tinies of their idiom. Dante puts us at the right point of view for estimating ' His poems will be found in the collections above mentioned, p.
On the authority of this sentence we hail in Guido the founder of the new and specifically national literature of the Italians. If not the master, he was the prophet of that dolce stil nuovo, which freed them from dependence on foreign traditions, and led, by transmutation, to the miracles of their Eenaissance art. The happy instinct which led him to use Tuscan, has secured his place upon the roll of poets who may still be read with pleasure. Thus both by example and precept, by the testimony of Dante and the fair fame of her own writers, this city makes for us a link between Sicilian and Tuscan literature.
Dante, destined to inaugurate the great age, was born at Florence in 12G5. Guido Guinicelli died in , when Dante had completed his twelfth year. In one of those years of preparation and transi- tion, while the learned stanzas of Guido Guinicelli were preluding the ' new sweet style ' of Tuscany, this yellow- haired scion of the Suabian princes, the progenitor of the Bentivogli, sent a song forth from his dungeon's loggie to greet the provinces of Italy : Va, Canzonetta mia, E saluta Messere, Dilli lo nial ch' i' aggio.
Quella che m' ha in balia Si distretto mi tene, Ch' eo viver non poraggio. Salutami Toscana, Quella ched e sovrana. In cui regna tutta cortesia; E vanne in Puglia plana, La magna Capitana, hk dove e lo mio core notte e dia. These lines sound a farewell to the old age and a salutation to the new. Enzo's heart is in the lowlands of Apulia and the great Capitanate, where his father built castles and fought mighty wars. He belongs, like his verses, like his race, like the chivalrous sentiments he had imbibed in youth, to the past ; and now he is dreaming life away, a captive with the burghers of Bologna.
Yet it is Tuscaiy for which he reserves the epithet of Sovereign — Tuscany where all courtesy holds sway. The situation is pathetic. The poem is a prophecy. Felicita beyond the Arno, where the family De' Rossi took the lead, together with their neighbour- hood, a company or band of one thousand mtn and upwards, all attired in white, with a Lord named the Lord of Love.
This band had no other purpose than to pass the time in games and solace, and in dances of ladies, knights and other people of the city, roaming the town with trumpets and divers instruments of music, in joy and gladness, and abiding together in banquets at midday and eventide. The young men mid the women went with gaze fixed upon those eyes angelical, that turn the midnight into noon.
Paris, , i. You would not have said : " Yon are mortal beings. John, patron of Florence. Later on, we read of two companies, the one dressed in yellow, the other in white, each led by their King, who filled the city with the sound of music, and wore garlands on their heads, and spent their time in dances and banquets.
Not only was Florence freed from grave anxieties and heavy expenses, caused by the intramural quarrels between Counts and Burghers. But the city felt the advent of her own prosperity, the realisation of her true type, in their victorious close. Then the new noble class, the popolani grassi, assumed the gentle manners of chivalry, accommodating its customs to their own rich jovial ideal.
Feudalism was extinguished ; but society retained such portions of feudal customs as shed beauty upon common life. Tranquillity succeeded to strife, and the medieval city presented a spectacle similar to that which an old Greek lyrist has described among the gifts of Peace : To mortal men Peace giveth these good things : Wealth, and the flowers of honey-throated song ; The flu,me that springs ' D' Ancona, op.
Then in the steely shield swart spiders weave Their web and dusky woof : Kust to the pointed spear and sword doth cleave ; The brazen trump sounds no alarms ; Nor is sleep harried from our eyes aloof, But with sweet rest my bosom warms : The streets are thronged with beauteous men and young. And hymns in praise of Love like flames to heaven are flung. Goro di Stagio Dati, writing at the end of the fourteenth century, has preserved for us an animated picture of Florence in May. John, which follows at midsummer, and there is none but provides himself betimes with clothes and ornaments and jewels.
Marriages and other joyous occasions are deferred until that time, to do the festival honour ; and two months before the date, they begin to furnish forth the decorations of the races — dresses of varlets, banners, clarions, draperies, and candles, and whatsoever other offerings should be made. The whole city is in a bustle for the preparation of the Festa ; and the hearts of young men and women, who take part therein, are set on nought but dancing, playing, singing, banqueting, jousting, and other fair amusements, as though nought else were to be done in those weeks before the coming of S.
John's Eve. John's Day which follows, need not be tran- scribed. Yet it may be well to call attention to a quattrocento picture in the Florentine Academy, which illustrates the customs of that festival. It is a long panel representing the marriage of an Adnnari with a daughter of the Ricasoli. Under the Loggia del Bigallo sit the trumpeters of the Signory, blowing clarions adorned with pennons.
The lily of Florence is on these trappings. Serving men carry vases and basins toward the Adimari palace, in preparation for the wedding feast. A large portion of the square is covered in with a white and red awning. If the chroniclers and painters enable us to form some con- ception of Florentine festivity, we are introduced to the persons and pastimes of these jovial companies by the poet Folgore da San Gemignano. If we are right in reckoning Folgore among the poets of the thirteenth century, the facility and racines?
I am aware that grave doubts, based upon historical allusions in Folgore's miscel- laneous sonnets, have been raised as to whether we can assign so early a date to Folgore, and whether his Brigata was really the hriqata gode- reccia, spendereccia, of Siena alluded to by Dante. See Bartoli, Storia della Letterattira Italiana, vol. This editor argues forcibly for a later date — not earlier at all events than from to But, whether we choose the earlier date or the later , Folgore may legitimately be used for my present purpose of illustration.
He is a thirteenth- century Boccaccio, without Boccaccio's enthusiasm for humane studies. Ideal love, asceticism, religion, the virtues of the Christian and the knight, are not for him. His soul is set on the enjoyment of the hour. But this materialism is presented in a form of art so temperate, with colours so refined and outlines so delicately drawn, that there is nothing repulsive in it.
His selfishness and sensuality are related to Aretino's as the miniatures of a missal to Giulio Romano's Modes of Venus. Cene was a poet of Arezzo. His series and Folgore's will both be found in the Poeti del Prima Secolo, vol. They describe the arming of a young knight, and his reception by Valour, Humility, Discretion, and Gladness.
Yet the knight, so armed and accepted, is no Galahad, far less the grim horseman of Diirer's allegory. Like the members of the brigata goder- eccia, he is rather a Gawain or Astolfo, all love, fine clothes, and court- ship. Each of these five sonnets is a precious little miniature of Italian carpet-chivalry. Valour disrobing him and taking him into her arms and crying Queste carni m' ai offerte would have made a fine pictorial allegory. February brings the pleasures of the chase. March is good for fishing, with merry friends at night, and never a friar to be seen : Lasciate predicar i Frati pazzi, Ch' hanno troppe bugle e poco vero.
Ladies shall go with them, to ride, display French dresses, dance Proven9al figures, or touch new instruments from Germany, or roam through spacious parks. May brings in tournaments and showers of blossoms— garlands and oranges flung from balcony and window— girls and youths saluting with kisses on cheeks and lips : E pulzellette, giovene, e garzoni Basciarsi nella bocca e nelle guance ; D' amore e di goder vi si ragioni. In June the company of youths and maidens quit the city for the villa, passing their time in shady gardens, where the fountains flow and freshen the fine grass, and all the folk shall be love's servants.
July finds them in town again, avoiding the sun's heat and wearing silken raiment in cool chambers where they feast. In August they are off to the hills, riding at morn and eve from castle to castle, through upland valleys where streams flow. September is the month of hawking ; October of fowling and midnight balls. With November and December winter comes again, and brings the fireside pleasures of the town. Tuesday is the day of battles and pitched fields ; but these are described in mock-heroics, which show what the poet really felt about the pleasure of them.
Thursday is the day of jousts and tourneys ; Friday of ' If I were writing the history of early Tuscan poetry, I should wish here to compare the rarely beautiful poem of Lapo Gianni, Avior eo chero, with Folgore, and the masterly sonnets of Cecco Angiolieri of Siena, especially the one beginning S' io fossi fuoco, with Cene dalla Chitarra, in order to prove the fulness of sensuous and satirical inspira- tion in the age preceding Daute. Lapo wishes he had the beauty of Absalom, the strength of Samson ; that the Arno would run balm for him, her walls be turned to silver and her paving-stones to crystal ; that he might abide in eternal summer gardens among thousands of the loveliest wo7nen, listening to the songs of birds and instruments of music.
The voluptuousness of Folgore is here heightened to ecstasy. Cecco desires to be fire, wind, sea, God, that he migbt ruin the world ; the emperor, that he might decapitate its population ; death, that he might seek out his father and mother ; life, that he might tly from both ; being Cecco, he would fain take all fair women, and leave the foul to his neighbours. The spite of Cene is deepened to insanity. Such then was the joyous Hving, painted with colours of tlie fancy by a Tuscan poet, and realised in Florence at the close of that eventful century which placed the city under Guelf rule, in the plenitude of peace, equality, and wealth by sea and land.
Distinctions of class had been obliterated. The whole population enjoyed equal rights and equal laws. The buildings whereby the City of the Flower is still made beautiful above all cities of Italian soil, were rising. The people abode in industry and order beneath the sway of their elected leaders. Supreme in Tuscany, fearing no internal feuds, strong in their militia of thirty thousand burghers to repel a rival State, the Florentines had reached the climax of political prosperity. Not as yet had arisen that little cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, above Pistoja, which was destined to plunge them into the strife of Blacks and Whites.
During that interval of windless calm, in that fair city, where the viol and the lute were never silent through spring-tide and summer, the star of Italian poetry, that ' crowning glory of unblemished wealth,' went up and filled the heavens with light. The Sicilians followed closely in the track of the Proven9al poets. The subject-matter of this imitative poetry was love — but love that bore a peculiar relation to ordinary human feeling.
Woman was regarded as an ideal being, to be approached with worship bordering on adoration. The lover derived personal force, virtue, elevation, energy, from his enthusiastic passion. Love was the consummation of spiritual felicity, which sur- passed all other modes of happiness in its beatitude. Thus Bernard de Ventadour and Jacopo da Lentino were ready to forego Paradise unless they might behold their lady's face before the throne of God. For a certain period in modern history, this mysticism of the amorous emotion was no affectation.
It formulated a genuine impulse of manly hearts, inflamed by beauty, and touched with the sense of moral superiority in woman, perfected through weakness and demanding physical protection. By bringing the cruder passions into accord with gentle manners and unselfish aspirations, it served to temper the rudeness of primitive society ; and no little of its attraction was due to the con- viction that only refined natures could experience it.
This new aspect of love was due to chivalry, to Christianity, to the Teutonic reverence for women, in which religious awe seems to have blended with the service of the weaker by the stronger. Sincere and beautiful as the ideal of chivalrous love may have been, it speedily degenerated.