This essay emphasizes the contemporary, Italian origin of Robert Tofte’s Of Mariage and Wiuing as an important and unacknowledged reason for its English censure. On June 1, 1599, the bishops John Whitgift and Richard Bancroft signed an order to burn nine books, one of which was Tofte’s translation of the Italian Dell’ammogliarsi. This book, “done into English” as Of Mariage and Wiuing, presents two opposing treatises on marriage by Ercole Tasso and his more famous cousin, the late poet Torquato. While Ercole’s declamation features some misogynistic language comparable to that in the other censored books, several factors including typography, content, and genre distinguish Of Mariage and Wiuing as somewhat of an exception. Nevertheless, if Tofte’s translation was somehow less objectionable, its Italian provenance counted against it. John Wolfe’s publication of Pietro Aretino’s scandalous dialogues in the 1580s and the reverberations of “Aretine” elements in the work of Thomas Nashe and John Marston in the 1590s fully prepared the bishops to condemn “an excellent, pleasant, and Philosophicall Controuersie” from Italy, a land commonly characterized in England by deviant religious, social, and sexual behavior.


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pp. 506-532
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