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The Italian Cantari on Charlemagne


Strologo, Franca (2023). The Italian Cantari on Charlemagne. In: Everson, Jane E. Charlemagne in Italy. Cambridge, 74-106.

Abstract

The cantari were poetic compositions on various topics that would be recited in public places in Italy throughout the medieval and renaissance periods by the so called canterini. The cantari were composed in ottava rima, a metre which was first used successfully in the history of Italian literature both by Giovanni Boccaccio, in works such as Filostrato (1335–9?), Teseida (1339–41?), and Ninfale fiesolano (1344–6?), and by the Florentine poet Antonio Pucci. We know the exact date of Antonio Pucci's death (1388) and this allows us to place within relatively pre¬cise chronological limits his production of cantari in ottava rima: Brito di Brettagna, Gismirante, Madonna Lionessa, Apollonio di Tiro, Reina d’Oriente, and the Cantari della Guerra di Pisa. But the case of Antonio Pucci and his work is an exception rather than the rule: for the rest, we still know very little about the cantari, about their major authors, about the places and times of their oral and written circulation. The cantari have come down to us without the music that must have accompanied the performances and are preserved by very rare manuscript witnesses; for the most part these are late and corrupt, almost always dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, very rarely from the fourteenth. Mainly, we know neither when the original versions were written, nor who wrote them. It is thus not surprising that the cantari have given rise to many critical problems and heated debates. In this chapter I will briefly review them, and also illustrate the results of the most recent critical investigations. I shall deal in particular with some of the cantari related to the narrative tradition on Charlemagne, the ones which have been the focus of critical debate and might turn out to have been circulating – as we will see – since the late Trecento, building a bridge between the time of Giovanni Boccaccio and Antonio Pucci, and the time of Luigi Pulci. These cantari are Spagna in rima, Orlando, the Cantari d’Aspramonte, the Cantari di Rinaldo, the Cantari del Danese, and finally a fragment that until now has been overlooked by scholars, Carlo Mainetto (or Carletto). Charlemagne, although in one case only evoked, is represented in all of these works, in various ways and to varying extents.

Abstract

The cantari were poetic compositions on various topics that would be recited in public places in Italy throughout the medieval and renaissance periods by the so called canterini. The cantari were composed in ottava rima, a metre which was first used successfully in the history of Italian literature both by Giovanni Boccaccio, in works such as Filostrato (1335–9?), Teseida (1339–41?), and Ninfale fiesolano (1344–6?), and by the Florentine poet Antonio Pucci. We know the exact date of Antonio Pucci's death (1388) and this allows us to place within relatively pre¬cise chronological limits his production of cantari in ottava rima: Brito di Brettagna, Gismirante, Madonna Lionessa, Apollonio di Tiro, Reina d’Oriente, and the Cantari della Guerra di Pisa. But the case of Antonio Pucci and his work is an exception rather than the rule: for the rest, we still know very little about the cantari, about their major authors, about the places and times of their oral and written circulation. The cantari have come down to us without the music that must have accompanied the performances and are preserved by very rare manuscript witnesses; for the most part these are late and corrupt, almost always dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, very rarely from the fourteenth. Mainly, we know neither when the original versions were written, nor who wrote them. It is thus not surprising that the cantari have given rise to many critical problems and heated debates. In this chapter I will briefly review them, and also illustrate the results of the most recent critical investigations. I shall deal in particular with some of the cantari related to the narrative tradition on Charlemagne, the ones which have been the focus of critical debate and might turn out to have been circulating – as we will see – since the late Trecento, building a bridge between the time of Giovanni Boccaccio and Antonio Pucci, and the time of Luigi Pulci. These cantari are Spagna in rima, Orlando, the Cantari d’Aspramonte, the Cantari di Rinaldo, the Cantari del Danese, and finally a fragment that until now has been overlooked by scholars, Carlo Mainetto (or Carletto). Charlemagne, although in one case only evoked, is represented in all of these works, in various ways and to varying extents.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:410 Linguistics
470 Latin & Italic languages
460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
440 French & related languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
Language:Italian
Date:8 June 2023
Deposited On:04 Jan 2024 14:28
Last Modified:05 Jan 2024 04:26
ISBN:9781800109025
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/9781800109025.004
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