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Major conventional scenes in late sixteenth-century Italian and French pastoral drama Niccoli, Gabriel Adriano


The purpose of the present work is to analyze the function of three major conventional scenes, broadly termed topoi, in three pastoral plays: the Aminta of Tasso, Guarini's Pastor Fido and the Bergerie by Montchrestien. The initial part of this study presents the basic features of pastoral drama in the last quarter of the sixteenth century in both Italy and France. It is concerned especially with some of the theoretical dicta expressed at that time and with the manner in which they may have influenced the handling of major dramatic scenes by different playwrights. Particular attention is devoted to the acrimonious querelle that took place around the Pastor Fido. The successful defense of Guarini's tragicommedia pastorale was, in fact, of great significance in the development of the pastoral dramatic genre because it guaranteed the dignity of pastoral tragicomedy alongside the established forms of tragedy and comedy. The main part of the dissertation is a detailed textual study of three major recurring scenes in pastoral drama; namely, those involving Cupid, the Golden Age theme and the Satyr. The use of each of these famous topological structures reveals, of course, the dramatist's conception of them and, more importantly, his audience's expectations. Whether a particular topos is elaborated more decoratively than dramatically, it must have an integral function in the structure of the play. Contrary to the entrenched opinion on pastoral drama, these were plays that were written in order to be staged, an important fact which is too often forgotten and only recently, thanks to the work of such critics as Clubb, Igliozzi and Dalla Valle, has been given due emphasis.

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