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Chivalry and feudalism had held their brief and feeble sway in Italy, and that was over. Neither in Lombardy among the castles, nor in Sicily within the Court, throbbed the real life of the Italian nation. That life was in the Communes. It beat in the heart of the people- especially of that people who had made nobility a crime beside the Arno, and had outlawed the Scio- perati from their City of the Flower. What the Suabian princes gave to Italy was the beginning of a common language. The question of the origin of the Italian language pertains rather to philology than to the history of culture.

Dante's De Eloquio, though based on unscientific principles of analysis, opened a discussion which exercised the acutest intellects of the sixteenth century. During the whole Roman period, it is certain that literary Latin differed in important respects from the vulgar, rustic or domestic, language.

Thus while a Roman gentleman would have said habeo pulchrum equum, his groom probably expressed the same thought in words like these: Between a graffito scribbled on the wall of some old Roman building Alexander unum animal est, for instance and one now chalked in the same district, Alessandro e un animale, there is hardly as much difference as between a literary Latin sentence and either of these rustic epigrams ; while the use of such intensitives as muitzim and bene, to express the superlative degree, indicate in vulgar Latin the pre- 1 The most important modern works upon this subject are three Essays by Napoleone Caix, Saggio sulla Storia della Lingua e dei Dia- letti d' Italia, Parma, ; Studi di Etimologia Italiana e Roman za, Firenze, ; Le Origini della Lingua Poetica Italiana, Firenze, The vulgar or rustic Latin continued, side by side with its literary counterpart, throughout the middle ages, forming in the first cen- turies of imperial decline the common speech of the Romance peoples, and gradually assuming those specific forms which determined the French, Spanish, and Italian types.

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There is little doubt that, could we possess ourselves of sufficient documents, we should be. Both literary and vulgar Latin suffered transformation the former declining in purity, variety, and vigour ; the latter diverging dialectically into the constituents of the three grand families of modern Latin. But the meta- morphosis was not of the same nature in both cases. While the literary language had been fixed, arrested, and delivered over to death, the vulgar tongue re- tained a vivid and assimilative life, capable of biologi- cal transmutation. French, Spanish, and Italian are modes of its existence continued under laws of organic variety and change.

It would be unscientific to suppose that rustic Latin, even in the most flourishing period of the Roman Empire, was identical in all provinces. From the first it must have held within itself the principles of differentiation. The same laws of differentiation hold good with regard to the dialects in each of these new languages. It is improbable that absolutely the same vulgar Latin was at any epoch spoken in two remote districts of the same province on the Tuscan sea-coast, for example, and on the banks of Padus.

Again, the same conditions climatic, ethnological, political, and so forth which helped to determine the generic distinc- tions of French, Spanish, and Italian, determined also the specific distinctions of one Italian dialect from another. Those of the north-west, for instance, in- clined to Gallic, and those of the north-east to Illyrian idiom. Those of Lcmbardy in general exhibit a mix- ture of German words. The dialects of the centre, especially the Tuscan, show marked superiority both in grammatical form and pho- netic purity over the more disintegrated and corrupted idioms of north and south.

It might be suggested that Tuscan, being less modified by foreign contact, continued the natural life of the old rustic Latin according to laws of unimpeded self-development. It is a dialect, but a dialect that realised the bent and striving of the lan- guage. We find it difficult to feel, far more to state, what qualities in a dialect and in the people of the district who use it, render one idiom more adapted to literary usage, more characteristic of the language it helps to constitute, more plastic and expressive of national peculiarities, than those around it.

But the fact is certain that this superiority in Tuscan was early recognised 1 ; and that too without any political advantages in favour of its triumph. It was something spiritually quintessential, something com- plementary to the sister dialects, which caused the success of Tuscan.

Thus, while literary Latin, though dying and almost dead, was still taught in the grammar schools and used by learned men, the rustic Latin in the thirteenth century had disappeared. But this disap- pearance was not death. The group of dialects which represented the new phase in its existence, shared such common qualities as proved them to have had original affinity, and fitted them for being recognised as a single family.

The position, 1 ' Lingua Tusca magis apta est ad literam sive literaturam quam alias linguae, et ideo magis est communis et intelligibilis. They possessed the classic Latin authors in a bad state of preservation, and studied a few of them with some minuteness, basing their own learned style upon the imitation of Virgil and Ovid, Cicero, Boethius, and the rhetoricians of the lower empire. But at home, in their families, upon the market-place, and in the prosecution of business, they talked the local dialects, each of which was more or less remotely representative of the ancient vulgar Latin.

However these dialects might differ, they formed in combination a new lan- guage, distinct from the parent stock of rustic Latin, and equally distinct from French and Spanish. If this was true of the refined type of Tuscan used by a great master, it was no less true of dialectical compositions selected for the express purpose of exhibiting their rudeness. Dante clearly expected contemporary readers not only to interpret, but to appreciate the shades of greater and lesser nicety in the examples he culled from Roman, Apulian, Florentine and other vernacular literatures.

This expectation proves that he felt himself to be dealing with a group of dialects which, taken collectively, formed a common idiom. Dante points out their differences, but does not neglect their community of origin. The desideratum, to use Dante's words, was ' that illustrious, cardinal, courtly, curial mother-tongue, proper to each Italian State, special to none, whereby the local idioms of every city are to be measured, weighed, and compared.

The peculiar conditions of Italy, as he described thetn, were destined to subsist through- out the next two centuries and a half, when men of learning, taking Tuscan as their standard, sought by practice and example to form a national language. The self- consciousness of the Italians front to front with this problem, as revealed to us in the pages of the De Eloquio, and the decision with which 1 De Vulg.

Tuscan predomi- nated ; but that the masterpieces of the trecento were not composed in any one of the unadulterated Tuscan dialects is clear, not merely from the contemporary testimony of Dante himself, but also from the ob- stinate discussions raised upon this subject by Bembo at a later period. A guiding and controlling principle of taste determined the instinctive method of selec- tion whereby Tuscan was adapted to the common needs of Italy. While treating of the Latin, the Lombard or Franco-Italian, and the Sicilian or I talo- Provencal periods of national developement, I have hitherto neglected that plebeian literature which, although its monuments have almost perished, must have been diffused in dialects through Italy after the opening of the thirteenth century.

Written for and by the people, the relics of this prose and poetry are valuable, not merely for the light they throw on the formation of language, but also for their indications of national tendencies. To this class again belongs Bonvesin's Cinquanta Cortesie da Tavola, a book of etiquette adapted to the needs of the small bourgeoisie upon their entrance into social life.

It is impossible to fix even an approximate date for the emergence of Italian prose. Law documents, deeds of settlement, contracts, and public acts, which can be referred with certainty to the first half of the thirteenth century, display a pressure of the vulgar speech upon the formal Latin of official verbiage. The effort to obtain precision, in designating some particular locality or some important person, forces the scribe back upon his common speech ; and these evidences of difficulty in wielding the Latin which had now become a dying language, prove that, long before it was written, Italian was spoken.

From the year we possess accounts of domestic expenditure written by one Matta- sala di Spinello dei Lambertini in the Sienese dialect. Then follow Lncchese documents and letters of Sienese citizens, which, though they have no literary value, show that people who could write had begun to ex- press their thoughts in spoken idiom.

The first essays in Italian composition for a lettered public were trans- lations from works already written by Italians in languecCo'il. Among these a prominent place must be assigned to the version of Marco Polo's travels, which Rusticiano of Pisa first published in French, having pos- sibly received them in Venetian from the traveller's own lips. Religious history and ethics furnished another library in the vernacular. The Dodici Conti Morali, the Introduzione alle Virtu, the Giardino delta Consolazione, and the Libra di Cato supplied the people with specimens from works already famous.

After a like manner, books of rhetoric and grammar in vogue among the medieval students were popularised in abstracts for Italian readers. Of scientific compila- tions, the Composizione del Mondo by Ristoro of Arezzo, embracing astronomical and geographical information, takes rank with the ethical and rhetorical works already mentioned. The note of all these compositions is that they are professedly epitomes of learning, already possessed in more authentic sources by scholars.

As such, they prove that there existed a class of readers eager for instruction, to whom books written in Latin or in French were not accessible. In a word, they indicate the advent of the modern tongue, with all its exigencies and with all its capabilities. To deal with the Chronicles of this period is no easy matter ; for those which are professedly the oldest Matteo Spi- nelli's, Ricordano Malespini's, and Lu Ribellamentu di Sicilia have been proved in some sense fabrications. On the other hand, it is clear from the Cento Novelle that the more dramatic episodes of history and myth were being submitted to the same epitomising treat- ment.

Finally we have to mention Guittone of Arezzo's epistles as the first serious attempt to treat the vulgar tongue rhetorically, for a distinct literary purpose. Numerous fragments of political songs have been disinterred from chronicles, which can be referred to the thirteenth century. Thus an anony- mous Genoese rhymester celebrated the victories of Laiazzo and Curzola , while Giovanni Villani preserved six lines upon the siege of Messina I More im- portant, because of greater extent, are the laments and amorous or comic poems, which can be attributed to the same century.

A cura di Giosu6 Carducci Pisa, , pp. Each displays facility of composition and a literary style already formed. They are not without French parallels ; but the mode of presentation is Italian, and the phrases have been transplanted without change from vulgar dialogue. Two romantic lyrics extracted from the same MS. These were known to Boccaccio, for he refers to them by name at the close of the fifth day in the Decameron.

Each of the ditties bears a thoroughly Italian stamp, and anticipates by its peculiar style of double entendre a whole depart- ment of national poetry the Florentine Carnival 1 Ibid. Hence we may take occasion to observe that those who accuse Lorenzo de' Medici and his contemporaries of debasing popular taste by the deliberate introduction of licentious- ness into art, exceed the limits of just censure. What is called the Paganism of the Renaissance, was in- digenous in Italy.

We find it inherent in vulgar literature before the date of Boccaccio ; and if, with the advance of social luxury, it assumed, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a more objectionable prominence, this should not be exclusively ascribed to the influence of humanistic studies or to the example of far-sighted despots. Orcagna, in the latter, criticises the conventional blind and winged Cupid, and winds up with: L' amore 6 un trastullo: To an unprejudiced student of Italian arts and letters nothing seems more clearly proved than the fact that a certain powerful objective quality call it realism, call it sensuousness deter- mines their most genuine productions, sinking to grossness, ascending to sublimity, combining with religious feeling in, the fine arts, blending with the definiteness of classic style, but never absent.

It is this objectivity, realism, sensuousness, which consti- tutes the strength of the Italians, and assigns the limitations of their faculty.

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In quite a different region, but of no less import- ance for the future of Italian literature, must be reckoned the religious hymns, which, during the thir- teenth century, began to be composed in the ver- nacular. The earliest known specimen is S. Francis' famous Cantico del Sole, which, even as it is preserved to us, after undergoing the process of modernisation, retains the purity and freshness of a bird's note in spring. Francis, but at the distance of half a century, followed Jacopone da Todi, with his pas- sionate and dithyrambic odes, which seem to vibrate tongues of fire.

To this religious lyric the Flagel- lant frenzy and the subsequent formation of Companies of Laudesi gave decisive impulse. I shall have in a future chapter to discuss the relation between the Umbrian Lauds and the origins of the Drama. It is enough here to notice the part played in the evolution of the language by so early a transi- tion from the Latin Hymns of the Church to Hymns written in the modern speech for private confraterni- ties and domestic gatherings. There are many indications that the pro- ducts of one province speedily became the property of the rest.

Spontaneous motives were mingled with French and Provencal recollections ; and already we can trace the unconscious effort to form a common language in the process known as Toscaneggiamento, or the translation of local songs into Tuscan idiom. What really happened was, that Frederick's Court became the centre of a widespread literary movement.

The Sicilian dialect predomina- ting at Palermo over the rest, the poets of different provinces who assembled round the Emperor were subsequently known as Sicilian. Their songs, passing upward through the peninsula, bore that name, even when they had, as at Florence, been converted, by dialectical modifications, to the use of Tuscan folk. We must bear in mind that the poets of this Court 1 See Carducci, op. Dante makes dottori nearly synonymous with trovatori. At the same time, one of the earliest specimens of Sicilian poetry, Ciullo d'Alcamo's Tenzone, is popular, free from Proven9al affectation, inclining to comedy in some of its marked motives and to coarse- ness at its close.

This proves that in the island, side by side with ' courtly makers ' and doitori, there flour- ished an original and vulgar manner of poetry. The process of Tuscanisation referred to in the preceding paragraph is too important in its bearings on the problems of Italian language and literature, to be passed over without further discussion. We possess but a few stanzas in a pure condi- tion. There is, therefore, reason to believe that when Dante treated of the courtly Sicilian poets in his essay De Vulgari Eloqitio, he knew their writings in a form already Tuscanised.

At the date of the composition of that essay, the Suabian House had been extinguished ; the literary society of the south was broken up ; and to Florence had already fallen the heritage of art. It is reprinted in his volume of Saggi Critici, Napoli, Tne subject is fully discussed from a point of view at variance with my text by Adolf Gaspary, Die Sicilianische Dichterschule, Berlin, Consequently the new Italian literature was already Tuscan either by origin, or by adoption, or by a pro- cess of transformation, before the Florentines assumed the dictatorship of letters.

It seems paradoxical to hint that Dante should not have perceived what has been here stated as more than a mere possibility. How came it that he included Florentine among the peccant idioms, and maintained that the true literary speech was still to seek? These doubts may in part at least be removed, when we remember the peculiar conditions under which the courtly poetry he praised had been produced ; and the indirect channels by which it had reached him.

They culled, for literary pur- poses, a vocabulary of colourless and neutral words, which clothed the same conventional ideas with elegant and artificial monotony. When these compositions underwent the further process of Tuscanisation which was easy, owing to certain dialectical affinities between Sicilian and Tuscan , they lost to a large extent what still remained to them of local character, without ac- quiring the true stamp of Florentine. Even a con- temporary could not have recognised in the verse of Jacopo da Lentino, thus treated, either a genuine Sicilian or a genuine Tuscan flavour.

His language presented the appearance of being, as indeed it was, different from both idioms. We may prefer the racy stanzas of the Cognate to those frigid and exhausted euphu- isms. But the critical taste of so great a master as even Dante was not tuned to any such preference. Though he recognised the defects of the Sicilian poets, as is manifest from his dialogue with Guido in the Purgatory, he gave them all credit for elevating verse above the vulgar level.

Their insipid diction seemed to him the first germ of a noble lingua aulica. Its colourlessness and strangeness hid the fact that it had already, at the close of the thirteenth century, assumed the Tuscan habit, and that from the well-springs of Tuscan idiom the Italian of the future would have to draw its aliment.

The downfall of the Hohenstauffens and the dis- persion of their Court-poets proved a circumstance of decisive benefit to Italian literature, by removing it from a false atmosphere into conditions where it freely flourished and expanded its originality. Feudalism formed no vital part of the Italian social system, and chivalry had never been more than an exotic, culti- vated in the hotbed of the aristocracy. The impulse given to poetry in the south, under influences in no true sense of the phrase national a Norman-German dynasty attempting to acclimatise Provengal forms upon Italian soil could hardly have produced a vigorous type of literature.

It is from the people, in centres of popular activity, or where the spirit of the people finds full play in representative society, that characteristic art must be developed. When Italian poetry deserted Palermo for the banks of Arno, it exchanged the Court for the people ; the subtleties of decadent chivalry for the genuine impulses of a free community ; the pettiness of culture for the humanities of a public conscious of high destinies and educated in a mascu- line political arena. Here the grand qualities of the Italian genius found an open field. Literature, abandoning imitative elegance, expressed the feelings, thoughts, and aspirations of a breed second to none in Europe for acuteness of intellect, intensity of emotion, and greatness of purpose.

At Palermo the princes and their courtiers had been reciprocally auditors and poets. At Florence the people listened ; and the poets, sprung from them, were speakers. Except at Athens in the golden age of Hellas, no populace has equalled that of Florence, both for the production of original genius, and also for the sensitiveness to beauty, diffused throughout all classes, which brings the artist and his audience into right accord.

Two stages in the transition from Sicily to Florence need to be described. He wrote, however, roughly. Though he practised vernacular prose, and assumed in verse the declamatory tone which Petrarch afterwards em- ployed with such effect in his addresses to the con- sciousness of Italy, yet Dante could speak of him with cold contempt 2 ; nor can we claim for him a higher place than that of a precursor. He attempted more than he was able to fulfil.

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  6. But his attempt, when judged by the conditions of his epoch, deserves to rank among achievements. With a poet of Bologna the case is different. Placed midway between Lombardy and Tuscany, Bologna shared the instincts of the two noblest Italian populations the Communes who wrested liberty from Frederick Barbarossa, and the Communes who were to give arts and letters to the nation. Bologna, moreover, was proud of her legal university, and had already won her title of ' the learned.

    Receiving from his Italo-Proven9al predecessors the material of chivalrous love, and obeying the genius of his native city, Guido rhymed of love no longer as a fashionable pastime, but as the medium of philosophic truth. From Guido started a school of transcen- dental singers, who used the ancient form and subject- matter of exotic poetry for the utterance of metaphysical thought.

    The Italians, born, as it were, old, were destined thus to pass from imitation, through specula- tion, to the final freedom of their sensuous art. Of this new lyric style logical, allegorical, mystical the first masterpiece was Guide's Canzone of the Gentle Heart. The code was afterwards formulated in Dante's Convito. The life it covered and interpreted was painted in the Vita Nuova.

    Its apocalypse was the Paradiso. If Guido Guinicelli did not succeed in writing from the heart, if he was more of an analyst than a lover, it is yet clear that the euphuisms of the I talo- Pro venial imitators have yielded in his verse to genuine emotion, while, speak- ing technically, the complex structure of the true Italian Canzone now appears in all its harmony of grace and grandeur. Guide's language is Tuscan ; not the Tuscan of the people, but the Tuscan of the Toscaneggiamenti.

    Herein, again, we note the im- portance of this poet in the history of literature. Working outside Florence, but obeying Florentine precedent, he stamps Italian with a Tuscan seal, and helps to conceal from Tuscans themselves the high destinies of their idiom. Dante puts us at the right point of view for estimating Guido's service. Though he recognised the Sicilians as the first masters of poetic style in Italy, Dante saluted the poet of Bologna as his father 1: Quando i' udi' nomar se stesso il padre Mio, e degli altri miei miglior, che mai Rime d' amor usar dolci e leggiadre. Sitemap

    On the authority of this sentence we hail in Guido the founder of the new and specifically national literature of the Italians. If not the master, he was the prophet of that dolce stil nuovo, which freed them from depen- dence on foreign traditions, and led, by transmutation, to the miracles of their Renaissance art. He divined that sincere source of inspiration, whereof Dante speaks J: Io mi son un che quando Amore spira, noto ; ed a quel modo Ch' ei delta dentro, vo significando.

    The happy instinct which led him to use Tuscan, has secured his place upon the roll of poets who may still be read with pleasure. And of this, too, Dante prophesied 2: Li dolci detti vostri, Che, quanto durera 1' uso moderno, Faranno cari ancora i loro inchiostri. Her erudition was further illustrated by the work of one Guidotto, who composed a treatise on the new ver- nacular, which he dedicated to King Manfred. Thus both by example and precept, by the testimony of Dante and the fair fame of her own writers, this city makes for us a link between Sicilian and Tuscan literature.

    Manfred was slain at Benevento in , and 1 Purg. Dante, destined to inaugurate the great age, was born at Florence in Guido Guinicelli died in , when Dante had completed his twelfth year. In one of those years of prepara- tion and transition, while the learned stanzas of Guido Guinicelli were preluding the ' new sweet style ' of Tuscany, this yellow-haired scion of the Suabian princes, the progenitor of the Bentivogli, sent a song forth from his dungeon's loggie to greet the provinces of Italy: Va, Canzonetta mia, E saluta Messere, Dilli lo mal ch' i' aggio.

    Quella che m' ha in balia Si distretto mi tene, Ch' eo viver non poraggio. These lines sound a farewell to the old age and a salutation to the new. Enzo's heart is in the lowlands of Apulia and the great Capitanate, where his father built castles and fought mighty wars. He belongs, like his verses, like his race, like the chivalrous sentiments he had imbibed in youth, to the past ; and now he is dreaming life away, a captive with the burghers of Bologna. Yet it is Tuscany for which he reserves the VOL. The situation is pathetic. The poem is a prophecy. Raimond of Tours, one of the earlier French minnesingers, bade his friend seek hospitality ' in the noble city of the Florentines, named Florence ; for it is there that joy and song and love are perfected with beauty crowned.

    In the old French romance of ' Cleomades,' for example, we read a rhymed description of the games and banquets with which Florence welcomed May and June 2: Villani, writing of the year , when the Guelfs had triumphed and the nobles had been quelled, speaks thus of those festivities 3: Felicita beyond the Arno, where the family De' Rossi took the lead, together with their neighbourhood, a company or band of one thousand men and upwards, all attired in white, with a Lord named the Lord of Love.

    This band had no other purpose than to pass the time in games and solace, and in dances of ladies, knights and other people of the city, roaming the town with trumpets and divers instruments of music, in joy 1 Fauriel, Dante el les origines, etc. Paris, , i. The young men mid the women went with gaze fixed upon those eyes angelical, that turn the mid- night into noon.

    Over their blonde tresses the maidens wore gems and precious garlands ; lilies, violets and roses were their charming faces. You would not have said: John, patron of Florence. Later on, we read of two companies, the one dressed in yellow, the other in white, each led by their King, who filled the city with the sound of music, and wore garlands on their heads, and spent their time in dances and banquets. Not 1 Stefani, quoted by D'Ancona, op. But the city felt the advent of her own prosperity, the realisation of her true type, in their victorious close.

    Then the new noble class, the popolani grassi, assumed the gentle manners of chivalry, accommodating its customs to their own rich jovial ideal. Feudalism was extinguished ; but society retained such portions of feudal customs as shed beauty upon common life. Tranquillity succeeded to strife, and the medieval city presented a spectacle similar to that which an old Greek lyrist has described among the gifts of Peace: To mortal men Peace giveth these good things: Wealth, and the flowers of honey-throated song ; The flame that springs On carven altars from fat sheep and kine, Slain to the gods in heaven ; and, all day long, Games for glad youths, and flutes, and wreaths, and circling wine.

    Then in the steely shield swart spiders weave Their web and dusky woof: Rust to the pointed spear and sword doth cleave ; The brazen trump sounds no alarms ; Nor is sleep harried from our eyes aloof, But with sweet rest my bosom warms: The streets are thronged with beauteous men and young, And hymns in praise of Love like flames to heaven are flung. Goro di Stagio Dati, writing at the end of the four- teenth century, has preserved for us an animated pic- ture of Florence in May.

    Marriages and other joyous occasions are deferred until that time, to do the festival honour ; and two months before the date, they begin to furnish forth the decorations of the races dresses of varlets, banners, clarions, draperies, and candles, and whatso- ever other offerings should be made. The whole city is in a bustle for the preparation of the Festa ; and the hearts of young men and women, who take part therein, are set on nought but dancing, playing, sing- ing, banqueting, jousting, and other fair amusements, as though nought else were to be done in those weeks before the coming of S.

    John's Day which follows, need not be transcribed. Yet it may be well to call attention to a quattrocento picture in the Florentine Academy, which illustrates the customs of that festival. It is a long panel representing the marriage of an Adimari with a daughter of the Rica- soli. The Baptistery appears in the background ; and on the piazza are ladies and young men, clad in damask and rich stuffs, with jewels and fantastic head- dresses, joining hands as though in act of dancing.

    Cloaks of Vermin and Fish

    Under the Loggia del Bigallo sit the trumpeters of the Signory, blowing clarions adorned with pennons. The lily of Florence is on these trappings. Serving men carry vases and basins toward the Adimari palace, in preparation for the wedding feast. A large portion of the square is covered in with a white and red awning. If we are right in reckoning Folgore among the poets of the thirteenth century, the facility and raciness of his style, its disengagement from Provencalising pedantry, and the irony of his luxurious hedonism, prove to what extent the Tuscans had already left the middle age behind them.

    He is a thirteenth-century Boccaccio, without Boccaccio's enthusiasm for humane studies. Ideal love, asceticism, religion, the virtues of the Christian and the knight, are not for him. His soul is set on the enjoyment of the hour. But this material- ism is presented in a form of art so temperate, with 1 The date commonly assigned to Folgore is , and the Niccolo he addresses in his series on the Months has been identified with that Nicolo, che la costuma ricca Del garofano prima discoperse, so ungently handled by Dante in the Inferno, Canto xxix.

    I am aware that grave doubts, based upon historical allusions in Folgore's miscel- laneous sonnets, have been raised as to whether we can assign so early a date to Folgore, and whether his Brigata was really the brigata goderec- cia, spendereccia, of Siena alluded to by Dante.

    See Bartoli, Storia della Letteratura Italiana, vol. This editor argues forcibly for a later date not earlier at all events than from to But, whether we choose the earlier date or the later , Folgore may legitimately be used for my present purpose of illustration. Cene was a poet of Arezzo. His series and Folgore's will both be found in the Poeti del Primo Secolo, vol. His selfishness and sensuality are related to Aretino's as the minia- tures of a missal to Giulio Romano's Modes of Venus. Uscir di fora alcuna volta il giorno, Gittando della neve bella e bianca A le donzelle, che staran dattorno.

    February brings the pleasures of the chase. March is good for fishing, with merry friends at night, and never a friar to be seen: Lasciate predicar i Frati pazzi, Ch' hanno troppe bugie e poco vero. They describe the arming of a young knight, and his reception by Valour, Humility, Discretion, and Gladness.

    Yet the knight, so armed and accepted, is no Galahad, far less the grim horseman of Duress allegory. Like the members of the brigata goder- eccia, he is rather a Gawain or Astolfo, all love, fine clothes, and court- ship. Each of these five sonnets is a precious little miniature of Italian carpet-chivalry.

    The quaintest is the second, which begins: Ecco prodezza che tosto lo spoglia, E dice: This exordium makes one regret that the painter of the young knight in our National Gallery Giorgione? Valour disrobing him and taking him into her arms and crying Qufste carni in' ai offertc would have made a fine pictorial allegory. In April the 'gentle country all abloom with fair fresh grass' invites the young men forth. Ladies shall go with them, to ride, display French dresses, dance Provencal figures, or touch new instruments from Germany, or roam through spacious parks.

    May brings in tournaments and showers of blossoms garlands and oranges flung from balcony and win- dow girls and youths saluting with kisses on cheeks and lips: E pulzellette, giovene, e garzoni Basciarsi nella bocca e nelle guance ; D' araore e di goder vi si ragioni. In June the company of youths and maidens quit the city for the villa, passing their time in shady gar- dens, where the fountains flow and freshen the fine grass, and all the folk shall be love's servants.

    July finds them in town again, avoiding the sun's heat and wearing silken raiment in cool chambers where they feast In August they are off to the hills, riding at morn and eve from castle to castle, through upland valleys where streams flow. September is the month of hawking ; October of fowling and midnight balls. With November and December winter comes again, and brings the fireside pleasures of the town. On the whole, there is too much said of eating and drinking in these sonnets ; and the series concludes with a piece of inhumane advice: E beffe far dei tristi cattivelli, E miseri cattivi sciagurati Avari: The sonnets on the Days breathe the same quaint medieval hedonism.

    Levati su, donzello, e non dormire ; Che 1' amoroso giorno ti conforta, E vuol die vadi tua donna a fruire. Tuesday is the day of battles and pitched fields ; but these are described in mock-heroics, which show what the poet really felt about the pleasure of them. Wednesday is the day of banquets, when ladies and girls are waited on by young men wearing amorous wreaths: E donzelletti gioveni garzoni Servir, portando amorose ghirlande.

    Thursday is the day of jousts and tourneys ; Fri- day of hounds and horses ; Saturday, of hawks and fowling-nets ; Sunday, of ' dances and feats of arms in Florence ': Danzar donzelli, armeggiar cavalieri, Cercar Fiorenza per ogni contrada, Per piazze, per giardini, e per verzieri. Such then was the joyous living, painted with colours of the fancy by a Tuscan poet, and realised in here to compare the rarely beautiful poem of Lapo Gianni, Amor eo chero, with Folgore, and the masterly sonnets of Cecco Angiolieri of Siena, espe- cially the one beginning S' io fossi fuoco, with Cene dalla Chitarra, in order to prove the fulness of sensuous and satirical inspiration in the age pre- ceding Dante.

    Lapo wishes he had the beauty of Absalom, the strength of Samson ; that the Arno would run balm for him, her walls be turned to silver and her paving-stones to crystal ; that he might abide in eternal summer gardens among thousands of the loveliest women, listening to the songs of birds and instruments of music. The voluptuousness of Folgore is here heightened to ecstasy. Cecco desires to be fire, wind, sea, God, that he might ruin the world ; the emperor, that he might decapitate its population ; death, that he might seek out his father and mother ; life, that he might fly from both ; being Cecco, he would fain take all fair women, and leave the foul to his neighbours.

    The spite of Cene is deepened to insanity. Florence at the close of that eventful century which placed the city under Guelf rule, in the plenitude of peace, equality, and wealth by sea and land. Distinc- tions of class had been obliterated. The whole popu- lation enjoyed equal rights and equal laws. No man was idle ; and though the simplicity of the past, praised by Dante and Villani, was yielding to luxury, still the pleasure-seekers were controlled by that fine taste which made the Florentines a race of artists.

    The buildings whereby the City of the Flower is still made beautiful above all cities of Italian soil, were rising. The people abode in industry and order beneath the sway of their elected leaders. Supreme in Tuscany, fearing no internal feuds, strong in their militia of thirty thousand burghers to repel a rival State, the Floren- tines had reached the climax of political prosperity. Not as yet had arisen that little cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, above Pistoja, which was destined to plunge them into the strife of Blacks and Whites. THE Sicilians followed closely in the track of the Proven9al poets.

    The subject- matter of this imitative poetry was love but love that bore a peculiar relation to ordinary human feeling. Woman was regarded as an ideal being, to be ap- proached with worship bordering on adoration. The lover derived personal force, virtue, elevation, energy, from his enthusiastic passion. Love was the consummation of spiritual felicity, which surpassed all other modes of happiness in its beatitude. Thus Bernard de Venta- dour and Jacopo da Lentino were ready to forego Paradise unless they might behold their lady's face before the throne of God.

    For a certain period in modern history, this mysticism of the amorous emotion was no affectation. It formulated a genuine impulse of manly hearts, inflamed by beauty, and touched with the sense of moral superiority in woman, perfected through weakness and demanding physical protection.

    By bringing the cruder passions into accord with gentle manners and unselfish aspirations, it served to temper the rudeness of primitive society ; and no little of its attraction was due to the conviction that only refined natures could experience it. This new aspect of love was due to chivalry, to Christianity, to the Teutonic reverence for women, in which religious awe seems to have blended with the service of the weaker by the stronger. Sincere and beautiful as the ideal of chivalrous love may have been, it speedily degenerated. Chivalry, though a vital element of feudalism, existed, even among the nations of its origin, more as an aspiration than a reality.

    In Italy it never penetrated the life or subdued the imagination of the people. For the Italo-Proven9al poets that code of love was almost wholly formal. They found it ready made. They used it because the culture of a Court, in sympathy with feudal Europe, left them no other choice.

    Louis, the nations of the South could only boast of a crusading Frederick 1 1. Frederick the troubadour was a no less anomalous being than Frederick the crusader. He conformed to contempo- rary fashion, but his spirit ran counter to the age. Curiosity, incipient humanism, audacious doubt, the toleration which inclined him to fraternise with Saracens and seek the learning of the Arabs, placed him outside the sphere of thirteenth-century con- ceptions. His expedition to the East appears a mere parade excursion, hypocritical, political, ironical. In like manner his love-poetry and that of his courtiers rings hollow in our ears.

    It harmonised with the Italian genius, when Guido Guinicelli treated chivalrous love from the standpoint of Bolognese learning. He altered none of the forms ; he used the conventional phraseo- logy. But he infused a new spirit into the subject- matter. H is poetry ceased to be formal ; the phrases were no longer verbiage. The epicureanism of Frederick's life clashed with the mystic exaltation of knighthood. There was no discord between Guide's scientific habit of mind and his expression of a philosophical idea con- veyed in terms of amorous enthusiasm.

    Upon his lips the words: Al cor gentil ripara sempre Amore, Come 1'augello in selva alia verdura ; Ne fe' Amore anti che gentil core, Nfe gentil cor anti che Amor, Natura: Guide's mood might be compared with that of the Greek sage, when he exclaimed that neither the morn- ing nor the evening star is so wonderful as Justice, or when he thus apostrophised Virtue: Virtue, to men thou bringest care and toil ; Yet art thou life's best, fairest spoil!

    O virgin goddess, for thy beauty's sake To die is delicate in this our Greece, Or to endure of pain the stern, strong ache. For the chivalrous races, Love had been an enthusiastic ideal. At Bologna it became the form of transcendental science ; and here the Italian intellect touched, by accident or instinct, the same note that had been struck by Plato in the ' Phsedrus ' and ' Symposium. Thomas and Accursius, hailed their poet in Guido Guinicelli. For them it was natural that poetry should veil phi- losophy with verse ; that love should be confounded with the movement of the soul toward truth ; that beauty should be treated as the manifestation of a spiritual good.

    Dante in his Canzone, Donne cti avete intelletto f amore, appeals, not to emotion, but to in- telligence. He tells us that understanding was the ancient name of love, and describes the effect of passion in a young man's heart as a revelation raising him above the level of common experience. The Tuscan intellect was too virile and sternly strung to be satisfied with amorous rhymes. The contem- porary theory of aesthetics demanded allegory, and imposed upon the poet erudition ; nor was it easy for the singer of that epoch to command his own immediate emotions, or to use them for the purposes of a direct and plastic art.

    Enjoying neither the freedom of the Greek nor the disengagement of the modern spirit, he found it more proper to clothe a scientific content with the veil of passion, than to paint the personality of the woman he loved with natural precision. Be- tween the mysticism of a sublime but visionary adora- tion on the one side, and the sensualities of vulgar appetite or the decencies of married life on the other, there lay for him no intermediate artistic region. He understood the love of the imagination and the love of the senses ; but the love of the heart, familiar to the Northern races, hardly existed for him.

    And here it may be parenthetically noticed that the Italians, in the middle ages, created no feminine ideal analogous to Gudrun or Chriemhild, Iseult or Guine- vere. When they left the high region of symbolism, they descended almost without modulation to the prose of common life. Thus the Selvaggia of Cino, the Beatrice of Dante, the Laura of Petrarch, made way for the Fiammetta of Boccaccio and the women of the Decameron, when that ecstasy of earlier enthusiasm was exhausted.

    Nor must it be thought that the emotions thus philosophised were unreal. Dante loved Beatrice, though she became for him an allegory. The splendid vision of her beauty and goodness attended him through life, assuming the guidance of his soul in all its stages. Difficult as it may be to comprehend this blending of the real and transcendental, we must grasp it if we desire to pene- trate the spirit of the fourteenth century in Italy.

    The human heart remains unchanged. No meta- physical sophistication, no allegory, no scholastic mysti- cism, can destroy the spontaneity of instinct in a man who loves, or cloud a poet's vision. Love does not cease to be love because it is sublimed to the quint- essence of a self-denying passion.

    It still retains its life in feeling, and its root in sense. Beauty does not cease to be beautiful because it has been moralised and identified with the attraction that lifts men upward to the sphere of the eternal truths. Nor is poetry ex- tinguished because the singer deems it his vocation to utter genuine thought, and scorns the rhyming pas- times of the simple amourist. The Florentine school presents us with a poetry which aimed at being philo- sophical, but which at the same time vibrated with life and delineated moods of delicate emotion.

    To effect a flawless fusion between these two strains in the new style, was infinitely difficult ; nor were the poets of that epoch equally successful. Guido Cavalcanti, the leader of the group which culminates in Dante, won his fame by verse that savours more of the dialectician than the singer. His odes are drily scholastic especially that famous Donna mi priega, which contemporaries studied clause by clause, and which, after two centuries, served Dino del Garbo for the text of a metaphysical discourse.

    His Ballate were probably regarded by himself and his friends as playthings, thrown off in idle moments to distract a mind engaged in thorny speculations. Yet we find here the first full blossom of genuine Italian verse. Their beauty is that of popular song, starting flowerlike from the soil, and fragrant in its first expansion beneath the sun of courtesy and culture. Nothing remained, in this kind, for Boccaccio and Poliziano, but to echo the Ballata of the country maidens, and to complete the welcome to the May. They were combined into a single stream by Cino da Pistoja. A pastourelle, In tin boschetto, anticipates the manner of Sacchetti.

    As for the May song, its opening lines, Ben venga Maggio, etc. Also Barbara's diamond edition of Cino da Pistoja and other poets, edited by Carducci. His Selvaggia deserves a place with Beatrice and Laura. From Cino Petrarch derived his mastery of limpid diction. In Cino the artistic sense of the Italians awoke. He produced something distinct both from the scientific style of Guido Guinicelli, and also from the wilding song which Guido Cavalcanti's Ballate echoed. He seems to have applied himself to the main object of polishing poetical diction, and rendering expression at once musical and lucid.

    We instinctively compare his work with that of Mino da Fiesole in bas-relief. Dante was five years older than Cino. To him belongs the glory of having effected the same fusion in a lyric poetry at once more comprehensive and more lofty. Dante yields no point as a dialectician and subtle thinker to Guido Cavalcanti. He surpasses Cino da Pistoja as an artist. His passion and imagination are more fiery than Guide's. His tender- ness is deeper and more touching than Cino's.

    Even 1 The tomb of Cino in the Duomo at Pistoja, with its Gothic canopies and the bas-reliefs which represent a Doctor of Laws lecturing to men of all ranks and ages at their desks beneath his professorial chair, is a fine contemporary monument. The great jurist is here commemorated, Dot the master of Petrarch in the art of song.

    Barbera, , p. Yet even Dante, though knowing that he was destined to eclipse both the Guidi, though claiming Love alone for his inspirer, was not wholly free from the scholasticism of his century. In the earlier lyrics of the Vita Nuova and in the Canzoni of the Convito, he allows his feeling to be over-weighted by the scientific content. Between his emotion and our sympathy there rises, now and again, the mist of metaphysic. While giving them intenser meaning, he still plays upon the commonplaces of his predecessors.

    Thus in the sonnet Amor e 7 cor gentil son una cosa he rehandles Guinicelli's theme ; while the following stanza repeats the well-worn doctrine that Love should be the union of beauty and of excellence 1: Che la belta che Amore in voi consente, A virtu solamente Formata fu dal suo decreto antico, Contro lo qual fallate. Within the compass of one little book is bound up all that Florence in the thirteenth century contributed to the refinement of medieval manners, together with all that the new school of poets had imagined of highest in their philosophical conception.

    The harmony of life and science attains completion in the real but idealised experience, which transcends and combines both motives in a personality uniquely constituted for this blending. It is enough for the young Dante to meet Beatrice, to pass her among her maidens in the city-ways, to receive her salute, to admire her moving through the many-coloured crowd, to meditate upon her apparition, as of one of God's angels, in the solitude of his chamber.

    She is a dream, a vision. But it is the dream of his existence, the vision that unfolds for him the universe more actual, more steeped in emotion, more stimulative of sublime aspira- tion and virile purpose than many loves which find fruition in long years of intercourse. We feel that the man's true self has been revealed to him ; that he has given his life-blood to the ideal which, without this nourishment, would have ranked among phantoms, but is now reality. Students who have not followed the stages through which the doctrine of chivalrous love reached Dante, and the process whereby it was transmuted into science for the guidance of the soul, will regard the records of the Vita Nuova as shadowy or sentimental.

    The point lies exactly in the fusion of two elements in the truth of the passion, the truth of the idealisation, and the spontaneity of the artistic form combining them. What is most intelligible, because most com- mon to all phases of profound emotion, in the Vila Nuova, is its grief the poet's sympathy with Beatrice in the house of mourning for her father's death, the vision of her own passage from earth to heaven, and the apostrophe to the pilgrims who thread the city clothed with mourning for her loss.

    Dante was born in 1 of poor but noble parents, who reconciled themselves to the Guelf party. He first saw Beatrice in his ninth year ; and, when a man, he well remembered how her beauty dawned upon him. At that moment, I say most truly that the spirit of life, which hath its dwelling in the secretest chamber of the heart, began to tremble so violently that the least pulses of my body shook therewith ; and 1 Voi che portate ; Donna pietosa; Deh peregrini. Ecce deus fortior me, qui veniens dominabitur mikiJ Beatrice died in , and Dante closed the Vita Nuova with these words 1: And to this end I labour all I can ; as she well knoweth.

    Posted by Forrest Aguirre at 1: Friday, September 21, The Tunnel. The Tunnel by William H. This review contains graphic content. I am not joking. If you are squeamish, please do not read this review! Years ago, on my way home from Disney World, of all places, my wife and I came on the scene of a wreck on a rural California highway. The accident couldn't have happened but a few minutes before we arrived.

    The police had not yet made it to the scene, though some good citizens were directing traffic and approaching the victims. It appeared to be a single-vehicle accident. The car had rolled, if the dents on the roof were any indication the car was upright on its three remaining wheels , and one of the passengers had been thrown through the windshield. He was quite dead: We drove right through it, no avoiding it. The body was not all in one piece, I'll leave it at that.

    Another person, the other passenger from the looks of it the body might have been his brother, I don't know was aimlessly wandering around the middle of the highway in obvious shock at what had just happened. Thankfully there were people trying to slow traffic and make way for the police, who arrived just as we passed the body.

    The feeling I felt then was akin to the feelings this book gave me inside. As an experiment in literature, it's brilliant. The formatting is incredible and intellectually stimulating. The language is superb, as one would expect from William Gass. I am a huge fan of his shorter work and have been in awe of his facile use of the English language. Academically, this book is a hit. An existentialist experiment in sentence construction, word usage, and visual arrangement. That said, the book made me sick.

    I couldn't put it down, once I had picked it up, but I loathed picking it up at each reading session. There was an internal battle raging within me during the time I read it: Intellectual curiosity vs emotional revulsion. Ultimately, I hated myself for reading this book. But in the back of my mind, I admire it.

    The narrator, Frederick Kohler, is attempting to write his forward to his life's work, "Guilt and Innocence in Hitler's Germany". Instead, the story follows Kohler's life, a failure in almost every sense, in a meandering, tedious narrative. The sense of self-loathing in this work is powerful and depressing. Rather than making the book playful, the clever tinkering with formatting serves to disarm the reader into thinking she or he should be really excited about tackling this intellectual challenge, setting the reader up for a downward emotional plunge from which it is difficult to break free.

    I would not recommend this book for those who easily fall into depression. The Tunnel won't just let you fall into depression, it will forcefully push you there, face first. If you can distance yourself enough to enjoy the cleverness of it all, by all means, do so. But I couldn't distance myself enough. In the end, I found myself stuck in The Tunnel and it took a good few days to get out. Just like the feeling I had after witnessing the aftermath of that accident. Posted by Forrest Aguirre at No, not that movie though I am rather fond of it, truth be told. I am currently waiting for the robots on Amazon to do their mechanical editing, after which I will post a link to the book's Amazon page.

    The Amazon gods have condescended and Italo and Vincenzo are now appearing there. As mentioned earlier , I took Cloaks down for a time, and it's time for it to go back up. I'm very excited, since Cloaks seems to have been rather popular with my readers.

    Kindle Editions

    At least that's what the stat bots tell me. So, go see what all the fuss is about! I hope this doesn't come across as narcissistic, but I love these bungling thieves and I am hard pressed to think of a more enjoyable time writing than when I followed their escapades. Tell me what you think, honestly. I appreciate honest reviews! Posted by Forrest Aguirre at 8: Monday, September 17, My Man Jeeves. My Man Jeeves by P. Wodehouse, so why not five stars? Well, here's the scoop. I love Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. One of the most clever duos to have ever graced the printed page. Between Jeeve's restrained resourcefulness and Bertie's self-admitted idiocy, there is a lot of potential for misadventure, and Wodehouse delivers it in droves.

    Half of the short stories in this volume are Jeeves and Wooster material. The other half is from what I glean as earlier material, with a main character named Reggie Peppers. Now, Peppers is a fore-runner of Wooster, no doubt, but he is a bit of a homunculus, a shadow, a pretender, when compared to the sharp imbecility of Bertie Wooster. The clipped down anti-witticisms of Wooster are watered down in Peppers, which leaves the Peppers stories a little wanting. Peppers wants to be Wooster, but doesn't quite get there because, quite frankly, Peppers isn't dumb enough.

    I am so glad that Wodehouse decided to stick with it and followed through to give life to Bertie Wooster. This isn't to say that Wodehouse missed here. Peppers made an adequate character, but Wooster, with Jeeves as his foil, is pure stupid genius. The Wooster stories in My Man Jeeves bear this out. Five stars for Bertie, negative one star for Peppers.

    Posted by Forrest Aguirre at 3: Keeping it Honest on Goodreads. It is, by far, my favorite place for virtual sociality. Goodreads, though, allows me to connect with hundreds of other readers and, potentially, with authors whose work I might learn to appreciate and even love. I relish the conversations I can have there with readers who have similar tastes and I enjoy getting new takes on old favorites or old books I despise by people whose opinions differ from mine. I even like to read what others think about works that I am ambivalent about and have changed my opinion on a few of these after considering someone's comments and giving the book a re-read.

    That said, I don't read to review, necessarily. While I was an undergraduate student at BYU and a graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison , I learned how to sap the love of books right out of a person. Take a book, any book, and give it to the person with an assignment to read the book with a ridiculously short deadline, and require that the person apply a specific type of analysis to that book in order to squeeze out the sweet academic wine that must be in the book, if the student will only look hard enough using the correct tools.

    I recall one of my sweetest summer breaks. Mind you, I usually took classes through the summer in order to graduate sooner. But one summer, as an undergraduate, I couldn't find the classes I needed, so I worked and read. I read them because I didn't have to, and it was glorious. I'll never forget the feeling of lusty freedom. Thankfully, it was enough of a heart-lifting experience to free up my brain to think more clearly for the rest of my college career, rather than being bogged down by the chains of academic necessity.

    It was after college that I decided to write my own works. As a young, overly-eager author, I rated my own work rather highly. I wrote it, after all. But now, I see that this was a mistake. As a reader, the thought of an author telling me how great they think their work is seems incestuous, at best. So I went back and un-rated works that I had written at Goodreads. I'll let readers figure out if they like my work or not. I will retain the privilege of rating works I have edited, however, or anthologies in which I have a story appearing.

    For those anthologies I have edited , I truly feel that those stories I published were the best ones available to me when I edited the anthology. I make no apology for rating "my" authors as five stars. If I didn't believe that strongly in their work, as contained in these volumes, I wouldn't have included them in the anthology. As far as anthologies containing my work go, I'm unapologetic in my assessment of other stories in the volume, though I typically shy away from including mention of my own work, except by way of letting readers of my reviews know of a potential conflict of interest.

    I feel that this is honest. I think it has to do with the disgust that I felt when I discovered the practice of authors buying reviews of their books. Pardon my naivete, but the thought just never occurred me that someone would, or even could, do such a thing. Now, I'm not above giving free copies of a book or e-book to a potential reviewer - this is how the business operates and I'd be an utter fool not to try to leverage the good praise of a legitimate, unpaid reviewer. In fact, I've done so recently, here and here and am game, possibly, to giving away more free e-books to those who will review the work, pending a review of the potential reviewer's past reviews.

    And I always encourage the reviewer to give an honest appraisal of the work, whether it's flattering or flaming. But I find it disingenuous to pay someone to review my work. The conflict of interest there is so reprehensible, that even the smarmiest businessman out there would cringe at the thought well, okay, obviously they wouldn't or I wouldn't be typing this blog entry. I think this dog has bitten me, too. This sounds like a great read. So many people love it. How can I go wrong?

    After reading this book, I felt cheated. Cheated of my time and money. Frankly, I was pissed. I'm all for allowing people to enjoy incorrect usage, tired tropes, poor grammar, flat characters, gross generalizations about specific ethnic groups and their bathing practices, and hideous inconsistencies. Now, I'm not saying that the author paid reviewers he did give away a few e-book copies and some reviewers were honest enough to acknowledge this.

    I don't know, either way. But I thought about the potential for abuse here, how an author COULD pay reviewers to give their crappy book a high star rating. It could happen, and that's a shame. Unfortunately, there's really nothing to be done to enforce honest, unpaid reviews. We really have to police ourselves. For my part, I'm going to keep on giving my honest appraisals on the books I read, good or bad, and I'm not going to feed you with BS about how wonderful my work is. You judge it for yourself.

    I've often heard and believe, to some extent that nice guys finish last, but I'm going to be a snob, take the "higher road", and stick with honesty in my reviews. It's my favorite place to hang out on the internet, guys. Don't soil it by spamming people with your books outside of groups and topics specifically designated for such activities and please don't buy in to the paid reviewer game. I don't want that crap to interfere with good, clean fun and discussions about reading, nor do I want to be the sidelong victim of those who give authors a bad name by spamming goodreads with announcements.

    Save that for some place else. Just don't do it. Not in my backyard! Thanks for playing nice and see ya in the stacks! I have this magical gift. Years ago, when the then "funct" Surreal Magazine accepted and published my story "The Further Adventures of Star Boy" still available in this collection , I had the privilege of bringing the death-knell to that publication.

    Well, maybe it had more to do with the publishers over-extending their reach, financially, but I like to think of Star Boy as the harbinger of that publication's doom. I can't tell you how many stories I've had accepted at various venues, only to see them go tits up before my story saw print. What looked to be a very promising project is now dead. I'm not going to recount every convulsion of the fine small press who was considering my work, as I have a great deal of respect for them and their editors and hope for a speedy recovery.

    Suffice it to say that my action of taking my Italo and Vincenzo stories down from Smashwords was premature. Therefore, in the next two to three weeks, I will be republishing the first volume of The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo: Cloaks of Vermin and Fish. In the not-too-distant future read: For now, though, you'll have to be satisfied with only the first misadventure of the most bungling and lucky of Venice's Thieves' Guild apprentices.

    Cloaks of Vermin and Fish is now up again! Tuesday, September 11, Black Gate He told me that his intention for this issue was to compile as many stories written by women that he could. That failing, he wanted to present as many stories that featured female characters, both protagonists and supporting cast-members, as possible. Women in Sword and Sorcery that serve some role other than modelling chainmail bikinis and wrapping dragon tails around their hips in suggestive poses?

    Hocking, was a great, if predictable story about the Archivist and his friend Lucella. I absolutely loved both characters, Lucella for her non-chalance and matronly patience with the Archivist, and the Archivist himself for his vulnerability and likeability. The main characters in this tale, the Weatherworkers Blim the Damp and Miy Who Sing Storms, whose friendship develops against the background of an invasion of an incredibly rich country by their armies, each of which seeks to take possession of the golden land. Poetic and even touching, this story tugged at my emotions like most Sword and Sorcery does not.

    Howard author of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer , among others. Kyth the Taker, a brilliant and rather glib thief, is the heroine here. This was a very clever story whose strongest point is less the adventure than the philosophical underpinnings that drive Kyth and Tonsett, her foil. Witty, funny, and thought provoking, I found this the best of this excellent volume. I have to admit, though, that a piece of non-fiction overshadowed all the fiction in the volume. This was as thoroughly-researched an article on the subject of fantasy-art in role-playing as I've ever seen.

    Of course, I'm hard pressed to think of other articles that have even endeavored such an undertaking. From Jeff Dee to Matthew D. Wilson, Taylor traces the history of art in role-playing. It's an incredible journey that is worth the price of the issue alone. If you like your Sword and Sorcery in short, smart doses, look no further than Black Gate. Saturday, September 8, Lost and Found: Three by Shaun Tan. Three by Shaun Tan: The artwork is spectacular and the stories are better-than-adequate.

    But I see this as a bittersweet collection. The stories end on a hopeful note, but if you're on meds, you may want to dose up before diving in. Not that the stories are depressing, just a bit gray, ironically. The vibrant artwork contrasts pretty sharply with the subdued voice of the stories, making the read a bit of a push-pull. Then let yourself soak in the pictures, really dig in and try to read the texts used in the collages, look for fine details, find the red leaf on every page of "The Red Tree".

    It's easy to get lost in the magic of the visuals, which make all the difference in the world. A clear case of a book-as-artifact being stronger than the stories therein. I give the art a five, the stories a four. I have to wonder what it might have been like had Tan decided to go wordless with this one. It might have pushed this from full of wonder to completely wonderful. Still, this is one that any discerning reader of graphic novels or comics should have on their shelves.

    Posted by Forrest Aguirre at 4: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk My rating: I read the book. I don't understand all the hype. This is two stories:

    Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1) Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1)
    Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1) Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1)
    Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1) Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1)
    Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1) Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1)
    Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1) Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1)

Related Cloaks of Vermin and Fish (The Misadventures of Italo and Vincenzo Book 1)

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