- Du spectaculaire à l'intime: Un Siècle de commedia erudita en Italie et en France (début du XVIe siècle-milieu du XVIIe siècle)
This book aims to examine some formal and thematic aspects of the commedia erudita (learned comedy, an Italian theatrical genre inspired by Plautus's and Terence's dramatic experiences) with the purpose to enlighten its acceptance in France between 1540 and 1640.
The author based her work exclusively on French translations and adaptations of Italian theatrical works, keeping in consideration the three main literary currents considered as fundamental by the critics: romance, intrigue, and serious comedy. Learned comedy's influence was equally felt in Spain, the British Isles, and Germany. In Italy, the learned comedy spread over an entire century (early and late sixteenth century), starting with Ariosto's experience in 1508, and continuing with Della Porta, while in France the Italian regular comedy appeared thirty years later. It made its debut in 1543 with Gl'ingannati (translated by Charles Estienne), and continued to 1646–47 with the last adaptations of Italian regular comedies by Rotrou and D'Auville.
The scholar's work is divided into four big chapters. The first chapter ("Pour une approche comparative du théâtre comique italien et français du XVIe siècle et de la première moitié du XVIIe siècle") focuses attention on the extraliterary factors that contributed to a different evolution of regular theater in France and in Italy. The Italian emphasis is placed on the more visual and spectacular aspects of the [End Page 537] theater, while the French accent is placed on a theater of ideas and passions which anticipated the "tragical" blooming of French production in the following years (Corneille, Racine, etc.).
The second chapter ("La comédie romanesque et ses avatars: La tradition siennoise et la France 1532–1647") deals with Gl'ingannati, a comedy masterwork of the Sienese tradition, where a balance is reached between the specifically comic romance action elements and the elements of sentimental and psychological nature. The French translators Charles Estienne, Pierre de Larivey, and Antonio Le Metel d'Ouville attempted an integration of the Sienese model with the social and cultural reality of their country and their time. Through the Sienese comedy, the themes and the characters from Boccaccio's short stories and the stories of his later imitators made way into the French regular theater. The motif of the Sienese drama tradition, which had most characterized regular French theater from the sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries, remained that of the masque. The path leading to the comedy of costumes and characters of the seventeenth century in France was already well marked, and the contribution of Sienese comedy certainly took an important role in this process.
Chapter 3 ("La comédie d'intrigue: De l'Arioste et ses interprètes français aux premières comedies traduites par Larivey") essentially lingers on the comedy of intrigue, whose model is Ariosto in his Suppositi and Negromante, the only ones of five pieces created by the poet which were the object of translation and adaptation in the French language in the sixteenth century. The first performance of Suppositi occurred in 1508 in Ferrara, and in 1594 in Paris appeared Jean Godard's Desquisez, which was the last French imitation of Suppositi before the end of the sixteenth century. Between the two dates above is placed the theatrical experience of Pierre de Larivey, who in 1574 published — translated into French — six comedies of several Italian authors, little-known but also included in the spirit of the comedy of intrigue.
The fourth chapter ("La comédie sérieuse et sentimentale: Larivey et Rotrou face aux expériences italiennes de la seconde moitié du XVIe siècle — vers 1560–1646") takes into examination a period of forty years, from 1611, the date of three...