Introduction. The Country Wife in Italy: Reception and Translation


  • Alba Graziano Università degli Studi della Tuscia



The history of The Country Wife (1675) in Italy is one of long neglect followed by an irregular rise in interest culminating in the 1990s thanks to the publication of its first successful translation. The discredit the play met with in England, beginning in the eighteenth century with Garrick’s bowdlerised version The Country Girl (1766), partly explains this. Apart from sporadic discussions in the nineteenth century, there was no sustained critical attention to Wycherley’s play until the 1920s, the decade which saw the publication of the playwright’s first Complete Works (Summers 1924). During the past century English-speaking scholarship on Restoration drama has grown steadily, producing a succession of major articles and book-length studies. Not so in Italy, however, where discussions of early modern English theatre have mainly devoted themselves to Shakespeare and his contemporaries (Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, Webster and Ford). The stage has followed suit.

This Introduction reviews the attention The Country Wife has received in the Italian cultural polysystem from the 1950s onwards, including its (scanty) critical interpretation and (not so irrelevant) editorial dissemination through translations, including a brief coda on the Italian mises-en-scène. It also serves as an introduction to our research group’s aim of promoting interest in this still neglected form of theatre. To this end, IRGORD (Italian Research Group on Restoration Drama) seeks to identify new approaches, even in an international context.