Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 648 pages of information about Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama.
its mortal enemy, as the dry humour with the moist, so the elements of tragedy and comedy, though separately antagonistic, yet when united in a third form,’ et cetera et cetera.  De Nores replied in an Apologia (1590), disclaiming all personal allusion, and the poet finally answered back in a Verato secondo, first published in 1593, after his antagonist’s death, restating his arguments and seasoning them with a good deal of unmannerly abuse.  These two treatises of Guarini’s were reprinted with alterations as the Compendio della poesia tragicommica, in the 1602 edition of the play, and together with the notes to the same edition form Guarini’s own share of the controversy[198].  But in 1600, before these had appeared, a Paduan, Faustino Summo, published a set attack on and dissection of the play; while a certain Giovan Pietro Malacreta of Vicenza illustrated the attitude of the age with regard to literature by putting forward a series of critical dubbi, that is, doubts as to the ‘authority’ of the form employed.  Both works are distinguished by a spirit of puerile cavil, which would of itself almost suffice to reconcile us to the worst faults of the poet.  Thus Malacreta is not even content to let the author choose his own title, arguing that Mirtillo was faithful not in his quality of shepherd but of lover[199].  He goes on to complain of the tangle of laws and oracles which Guarini invents in order to motive the action of his play; and here, though taken individually his objections may be hypercritical, he has laid his finger on a very real weakness of the author’s ingenious plot.  It is, moreover, a weakness common to almost the whole tribe of the Arcadian, or rather Utopian, pastorals.  Apologists soon appeared, and had little difficulty in disposing of most of the adverse criticisms.  A specific Risposta to Malacreta appeared at Padua in 1600 from the pen of Paolo Beni.  Defences by Giovanni Savio and Orlando Pescetti were printed at Venice and Verona respectively in 1601, while one at least, written by Gauges de Gozze of Pesaro, under the pseudonym of Fileno di Isauro, circulated in manuscript.  These writings, however, are marked either by futile endeavours to reconcile the Pastor fido with the supposed teaching of Aristotle and Horace, or else by such extravagant laudation as that of Pescetti, who doubted not that had Aristotle known Guarini’s play, it would have been to him the model of a new kind to rank with the epic of Homer and the tragedy of Sophocles[200].  Finally, Summo returned to the charge with a rejoinder to Pescetti and Beni printed at Vicenza in 1601[201].  But all this writing and counter-writing in no way affected the popularity of the Pastor fido and its successors.  Moreover, the critical position of the combatants on both sides was essentially false.  It would be an easy task to fill a volume with strictures on the play touching its sentimental tone, its affected manners, its stiff development, its undramatic construction, the weak drawing of character, the lack of motive force to move the complex machinery, and many other points—­strictures that should be unanswerable.  But those who wish to understand the influence exercised by the play over subsequent literature in Europe will find their time better spent in analysing those qualities, whether emotional or artistic, which won for it the enthusiastic worship of the civilized world.

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Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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