Italian literature

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

In the early 17th cent. philosophic and scientific prose (Campanella, Galileo) continued and surpassed the achievements of Giordano Bruno. But the new literary style, secentismo, or marinismo (from Giambattista Marino), aimed at dazzling the reader by the opulent use of rhetorical devices. At the end of the century the Arcadians began a movement to restore simplicity and classical restraint to poetry, as in Metastasio's heroic melodramas. The mock-heroic epic (Tassoni), the opera, and commedia dell'arte were other genres cultivated in the 17th cent.

The renewal of Italian culture in the 18th cent. produced major works of journalism (Gaspare Gozzi, Giuseppe Baretti, and the Milanese Caffè ), philosophical and historical erudition (Vico, Muratori, and Tiraboschi), and translations from classical antiquity and from contemporary European writers. The outstanding Italian representatives of the Enlightenment were Carlo Goldoni, whose comedies of character drew upon contemporary life, Vittorio Alfieri, whose classical tragedies exalted freedom, and Giuseppe Parini, whose satirical poetry attacked the social abuses of the privileged.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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