Octavo. IV, , 654, pp. 3/4 green morocco over marbled paper covered boards and gold lettering and borders on spine. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Vittorio Alfieri. Fascinating work compiling 19 dramas of the world renown dramatist, Vittorio Alfieri, considered the "founder of Italian tragedy." It is to his dramas that Alfieri is chiefly indebted for the high reputation he has attained. Before his time the Italian language, so harmonious in the Sonnets of Petrarch and so energetic in the Commedia of Dante, had been invariably languid and prosaic in dramatic dialogue. The pedantic and inanimate tragedies of the 16th century were followed, during the Iron Age of Italian literature, by dramas of which extravagance in the sentiments and improbability in the action were the chief characteristics. The prodigious success of the Merope of Maffei, which appeared in the commencement of the 18th century, may be attributed more to a comparison with such productions than to intrinsic merit. In this degradation of tragic taste the appearance of the tragedies of Alfieri was perhaps the most important literary event that had occurred in Italy during the 18th century. On these tragedies, it is difficult to pronounce a judgment, as the taste and system of the author underwent considerable change and modification in the intervals between the three periods of their publication. An excessive harshness of style, an asperity of sentiment and total want of poetical ornament are the characteristics of his first four tragedies, Filippo, Polinice, Antigone, and Virginia. These faults were in some measure corrected in the six tragedies he wrote some years after, and in those he published along with Saul, the drama that enjoyed the greatest success of all his productions. This popularity is partly attributable to Alfieri's severe and unadorned style, which fit the patriarchal simplicity of the age. Though there is a considerable difference in his dramas, there are certain qualities common to them all. None of the plots are of his own invention, but are founded either on mythological fable or history. Most of them had been previously treated by the Greek dramatists or by Seneca. Rosmunda, the only one that could be of his own contrivance, and which is certainly the least happy effusion of his genius, is partly founded on the eighteenth novel of the third part of Bandello and partly on Prevost's Memoires d'un homme de qualite. But whatever subject he chooses, his dramas are always formed on the Grecian model, and breathe a freedom and independence worthy of an Athenian poet. Indeed, his Agide and Bruto may rather be considered oratorical declamations and dialogues on liberty than tragedies. This volume contains: Filippo; Polinice; Antigone; Virginia; Agamennone; Oreste; Rosmunda; Ottavia; Timoleone; Merope; Maria Stuarda; La Congiura de Pazzi; Don Garzia; Saul; Agide; Sofonisha; Bruto Primo; Mirra; Bruto Secondo. Some age-wear on binding with rubbing along edges and joints. Contemporary signature on title-page, dated 1837. Text in Italian. Binding in overall good, interior in near fine condition.
Book ID: 27410