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The Cambridge History of Italian Literature by C.P. Brand
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May 18, 11

bookshelves: 2011, renaissance, paid-for
Read from March 14 to April 13, 2011

As dense as this book is, it obviously requires time and concentration to get the most out of it; a pen/pencil and a notebook with many blank pages nearby doesn’t hurt, either. The authors trace in detail the development of specific literary forms – the rhythm and rhyme patterns of trecento poetry across the peninsula/islands, for example – as the Italian language itself develops. While Florence’s literary output warrants most of the praise it deserves, Brand and Pertile and their selected experts constantly bring less popular movements and authors to light. There’s a whole chapter – though somewhat off-putting with its persuasive style – dedicated to trecento authors who aren’t Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. While the early periods are succinct and well covered, though, the nature of the subject – or just the number of names and works themselves – after the 17th century or so certainly becomes more involved and harder to describe quite as cleanly. The editors do, however, manage to squeeze in some major players in the worlds of theater and of opera; the same author discusses opera through a few different centuries, making it easier for the reader to come back to the topic each time. At the finish, the authors blurt out catalogues of the more famous 20th century authors; time will tell which of them will eventually deserve their own chapter in a history book a few centuries from now.
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