Between Mimesis and Diegesis in Sixteenth-Century Italy: the Case of Girolamo Parabosco


  • Flavia Palma Verona



In Renaissance Italy the debate on literary genres almost ignored the novella form and while this theoretical void allowed for freedom in composition, it also caused generic confusion and brought forth peculiar overlaps between novellas and dramas. Girolamo Parabosco (1524-57) is a case in point of this peculiar commixture. The seventeen tales of his collection, entitled I diporti, and his eight comedies partially share common plots, but, if in sixteenth-century Italy tales normally inspired the composition of dramas, Parabosco actually wrote his plays before the novellas, following a quite unusual practice. The employment of dialogues and narrations in these texts is also peculiar; following Boccaccio’s example, many writers blended narrations and direct speeches in order to achieve a vivid representation of the events, while the novellas Parabosco derived from his comedies (7, 9, 13, and 15) are sparing in dialogues and may be defined as notably diegetic and particularly attentive to the narrator’s ‘ideological’ function (Genette 1980: 256) which emerges as especially prominent. In order to differentiate his novellas from their dramatic sources, he originally exploited the moods of speech and provided his readers with a‘new’ product, thus indulging their tastes. Looking at his comedies, this hypothesis may be further supported by the presence of ‘canonical’ soliloquies in addition to clearly narrative ones. Parabosco might have considered the latter to be perfectly suitable for dramatic mimesis, a strategy he possibly derived from the contemporary commedia dell’arte scenarios, at which he also looked in order to satisfy his audience’s taste for this kind of popular theatre.






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