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134 Reviews sexuality. The books impresses for its evidence of the continual manipulation of attitudes and ofhistory over almost a millennium. It is indeed, as another reviewer has said, 'arichlyinformative study of attitudes to the past'. J. S. Ryan School ofEnglish, Communication and Theatre University ofNew England Bruno, Giordano, Candlebearer (Carleton Renaissance Plays in Translation 31), trans. Gino Moliterno, Ottawa, Dovehouse Editions, 2000; paper; pp. 204; 7 b/w plates; R R P US$10; ISBN 1895537517. When Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake in Campo dei Fiori on 17 February 1600, neither his fame nor his notoriety rested on this play. His offence was rather a lack of orthodoxy: magical practices, heretical cosmology, mnemonics. / / candelaio continues to be read and occasionally performed, and Gino Moliterno's translation, with a finely crafted introduction, provides a welcome route into reading and digesting what is at first sight a totally indigestible comedy, characterised by fantastical language, a surfeit of characters and plots, and excessive length. Just as Ariosto's / suppositi, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, punned erotically on suppositions and on 'placing under', so // candelaio at the end of the sixteenth century develops an erotic pun. The word candelaio means both 'candlemaker' and 'candlebearer', that is, the candlestick with a socket into which a candle is inserted. Metaphorically, a candelaio is a sodomite, like Bonifacio, the old man of the play, whose lust for the courtesan Vittoria is revealed to all, and who must accept as his punishment the indignity of accommodating his beautiful young wife's affair with the younger artist Gianbemardo. This central plot is only one of three: the other two revolve around Bartolomeo's infatuation with alchemy, and his humiliation at the hands of a charlatan alchemist Cencio, and Manfurio's infatuation with pedantry and his humiliation at the hands of Sanguino's gang of thieves disguised as the watch. The play that results is a swirling nocturnal piece, lit by that candelaio that casts its light throughout the play, until the final black resolution which brings acquiescence to all, but satisfactiontonone but Carubina, Bonifacio's young wife, and Gianbemardo. Critics have long been ambivalent about Bruno's comedy. It is regularly Reviews 135 anthologised, but never without some kind of condemnation for its language and the immorality of the plot. Molitemo's contribution here is to demonstrate the links between the comedy and the rest of Bruno's philosophical thought. TV candelaio wasfirstpublished in 1582, within two months of the De Umbris Idearum (On the Shadows of Ideas), and in Bruno's own words, was intended 'to throw light on certain Shadows ofIdeas which in truth seem to frighten the beasts and, like Dantean devils, leave the asses gasping far behind'. The two works are inextricably and until n o w inexplicably linked. In the De Umbris Idearum, Bruno had developed a system of preinscription of shadows or traces of ideas; Moliterno proposes that prefatory material of the Candelaio, with its epigraph, the sonnet entitled The Book, the dedicatory letter to the Lady Morgana, the Argument delivered by the three principal characters, the Antiprologue, the Proprologue andfinallythe Janitor, are a series ofpreinscriptions to the comedy, and provide the keys by which it should be read. H e further argues the identification of Carubina with the Lady Morgana of the prefatory material, and almost anagrammatically ofGianbemardo with Giordano Bruno himself. The play is in part a revenge on that other candelaio, her husband. Moliterno proposes, furthermore, that the comedy is for reading rather than for performance. It may be that while observing the conventions of comedy, pushed to their very limits, Bruno is also exploring n e w dimensions of philosophical dialogue, writing not with a specific stage-performance in mind but rather to be 'played out on the stage of the imagination'. Moliterno points out that in the introductory epistle of the Cena de le ceneri (Ash Wednesday Supper), published two years later, Bruno showed that he considered readers and spectators as interchangeable categories, so that the distinction between stageperformance and performance in the imagination was unlikely to have weighed heavily on Bruno. N o evidence of a contemporary performance survives, and Moliterno shows...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 134-136
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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