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The Comedies of Carlo Goldoni edited with an introduction by Helen Zimmern   By: (1707-1793)

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Masterpieces of Foreign Authors

GOLDONI'S COMEDIES

MORRISON AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.

THE COMEDIES OF CARLO GOLDONI

EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION BY

HELEN ZIMMERN

LONDON DAVID STOTT, 370 OXFORD STREET, W. 1892

GOLDONI, good, gay, sunniest of souls, Glassing half Venice in that verse of thine, What though it just reflect the shade and shine Of common life, nor render, as it rolls, Grandeur and gloom? Sufficient for thy shoals Was Carnival: Parini's depths enshrine Secrets unsuited to that opaline Surface of things which laughs along thy scrolls. There throng the People: how they come and go, Lisp the soft language, flaunt the bright garb, see, On piazza, calle, under portico, And over bridge! Dear King of Comedy, Be honoured! Thou that didst love Venice so, Venice, and we who love her, all love thee! ROBERT BROWNING.

CONTENTS. PAGE

INTRODUCTION, 7 A CURIOUS MISHAP, 33 THE BENEFICENT BEAR, 95 THE FAN, 147 THE SPENDTHRIFT MISER, 229

INTRODUCTION.

"Painter and son of nature," wrote Voltaire, at that time the arbitrator and the dispenser of fame in cultured Europe, to Carlo Goldoni, then a rising dramatist, "I would entitle your comedies, 'Italy liberated from the Goths.'" The sage of Ferney's quick critical faculty had once again hit its sure mark, for it is Goldoni's supreme merit, and one of his chief titles to fame and glory, that he released the Italian theatre from the bondage of the artificial and pantomime performances that until then had passed for plays, and that, together with Molière, he laid the foundations of the drama as it is understood in our days. Indeed, Voltaire, in his admiration for the Venetian playwright, also called him "the Italian Molière," a comparison that is more accurate than such comparisons between authors of different countries are apt to be, though, like all such judgments, somewhat rough and ready. It is interesting in this respect to confront the two most popular dramas of the two dramatists, Molière's "Le Misanthrope" and Goldoni's "Il Burbero Benefico." Goldoni, while superior in imagination, in spontaneity, deals more with the superficial aspects of humanity. Molière, on the contrary, probes deep into the human soul, and has greater elegance of form. In return, Goldoni is more genial and kindly in his judgments, and, while lacking none of Molière's keenness of observation, is devoid of his bitter satire. Both have the same movement and life, the same intuitive perception of what will please the public, the same sense of dramatic proportion. Goldoni was, however, less happy than Molière as regards the times in which his lines were cast. The French dramatist, like Shakespeare, was born at an age in which his fatherland was traversing a glorious epoch of national story. The Italian lived instead in the darkest period of that political degradation which was the lot of the fairest of European countries, until quite recently, when she emancipated herself, threw off the chains of foreign bondage, and proclaimed herself mistress of her own lands and fortunes. And manners and customs were no less in decadence in private as well as in public, a sad epoch, truly, though to outsiders it looked light hearted and merry enough. Goldoni's lot was cast in the final decades of the decrepitude of Venice, the last of the Italian proud Republics, which survived only to the end of the eighteenth century, indeed dissolved just four years after her great dramatist's demise. His long life comprised almost the whole of that century, from the wars of the Spanish Succession, which open the history of that era, to the Peace of Aix la Chapelle and the French Revolution... Continue reading book >>




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