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Questions tagged [italian-language]

Questions regarding literature originally written in Italian, regardless of whether they were written or published in Italy or elsewhere.

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In Foucault's Pendulum, by what method does the translation choose to keep or translate Italian?

Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco was originally written in Italian. Most of the book was translated to English, except for the parts that weren't in Italian to begin with. I understand that ...
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20 votes
2 answers
9k views

Why does Pinocchio's nose grow?

In chapter 3 of The Adventures of Pinocchio, Geppetto shapes the piece of wood Mastro Cherry had given him into a marionette. When he creates the nose, it starts growing uncontrollably: After the ...
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18 votes
3 answers
7k views

Why is Dante's Magnum Opus Called a 'Divine Comedy'?

I can see little reason for Dante to name his work a 'divine comedy.' At least with Inferno, I can better see it as a tragedy. Why did he choose to name his work as he did?
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What did Dante mean by "Papè Satan, papè Satan aleppe" in the Inferno?

So, I was recently re-reading the Inferno, and I have come across this quote which I can't make sense of. "Papè Satan, papè Satan aleppe," (VII.1) It seemed rather weird that it wouldn't ...
In Hoc Signo's user avatar
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What is the planet that "leads men straight on every road" in Dante's "Inferno"?

At the beginning of Inferno, Dante comes across a hill, which is being lit by the rays of a "planet": But at the far end of that valley of evil whose maze had sapped my very heart with fear!...
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Did Dante plagiarize the Divine Comedy from Kitab al-Miraj?

By looking up what the Kitab al-Miraj was, you can see many similarities to the Divine Comedy: a traveler's journey through the afterlife. Is it possible that Dante plagiarized this work?
user4281's user avatar
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In Foucault's Pendulum, which names are allusions to the real world, and which are not?

Foucault's Pendulum has a litany of character names that intrigue me. I wonder where many of them come from. For example, Casaubon, the name of one of the main characters, seems like it comes from ...
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10 votes
2 answers
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Dante Alleghieri's Divine Comedy "has been translated into the most languages in the world & top printed work after the Bible"?

There is a MOOC about Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy by the The University of Naples Federico II, in which a certain professor named Raffaele Giglio starts a video (published in September 2017) in ...
O0123's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Who are these crescent saints?

In the Decameron Day 2 Story 7, the protagonist is a princess of "Babylon" who has numerous sexual misadventures after getting shipwrecked on the way to be married. She is, I believe, ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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8 votes
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Who is Gall in Italo Svevo's "Senilità"?

I'm reading Italo Svevo's novel Senilità, translated into English as As a Man Grows Older or Emilio's Carnival. In the third chapter, someone called Gall is mentioned (emphasis mine): Ella portava la ...
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What do the names of the Decameron characters signify?

The Wikipedia page for the Decameron claims (without citations) that: Boccaccio himself notes that the names he gives for these ten characters are in fact pseudonyms chosen as "appropriate to ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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Benvenuto Cellini and Pantasilea

In chapter 33 of Benvenuto Cellini's autobiography, he overhears the prostitute Pantasilea with another man, Luigi Pulci, in a secretive manner, perhaps as if they are having an affair. The window ...
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2 answers
1k views

Was the Canterbury Tales directly inspired by the Decameron?

Both Boccaccio's Decameron and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales are 14th-century collections of short tales set within a frame story involving a group of people taking turns to tell stories one at a time. ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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"The legend of the oyster and the pearl" by Dario Fo

A poem written by Dario Fo, "The legend of the oyster and the pearl", text here (included in the play Isabella, tre caravelle e un cacciaballe) ends with the lines di morte nel pallore lei ...
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1 answer
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When was Machiavelli's Art of War first translated into Chinese?

Bookeater recently asked when Sun Zi's Art of War was first adopted outside China. However, Sun Zi was not the only author who wrote a treatise on this topic. Machiavelli wrote Dell'arte della guerra /...
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6 votes
3 answers
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What is meant by "traffic" in this list of men's activities?

In the introduction (proem) to the Decameron, the author spends some paragraphs writing about lovesick women and how he hopes his stories may give them some solace as their situation means they're ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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6 votes
3 answers
750 views

Why the phrasing "where the sun is silent" in Dante's "Inferno"?

I'm reading Dante's Inferno, and towards the beginning, I came across this line: And as one who is eager in gaining, and, when the time arrives that makes him lose, weeps and afflicts himself in all ...
Mithical's user avatar
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2 answers
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Is Evil Hole / Malpertugio a realistic name for a district in Naples?

Day 2 Story 5 of the Decameron is set partly in a district of Naples with (at least in the English translation) a striking name that sounds comical and exaggerated. Here follows the translation I'm ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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6 votes
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What does "the ass and the wall are quits" mean?

This phrase is used at least twice in the Decameron: In Day 2 Story 9, when the merchants at the beginning of the story are boasting of their infidelity to their wives and justifying themselves by ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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6 votes
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Understanding the technique of "lightening" in Calvino's writing

I'm reading the paper "Erasing the Invisible Cities: Italo Calvino and the Violence of Representation" by John Welsh (which you can read for free online). I've read and enjoyed Calvino's Invisible ...
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5 votes
1 answer
197 views

What does Chapter XLVIII in Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy, Book I, mean?

I don't understand what Book I Chapter 48 of Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy is trying to convey: Chapter XLVIII He who would not have an Office bestowed on some worthless or wicked Person, should ...
max's user avatar
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What does "were with him when Divine Love first moved those fair things" mean in Dante's "Inferno"?

Towards the beginning of the Inferno, when the narrator encounters the leapord, lion, and wolf, we find this passage: The time was at the beginning of the morning; and the sun was mounting up with ...
Mithical's user avatar
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Until what year was Machiavelli's The Prince banned in England?

Machiavelli's treatise The Prince, written in the early 16th century and first published in 1532, was placed on the Index of Prohibited Books in 1559. According to Robert Bireley, quoted on Wikipedia, ...
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What does Dante mean here?

When touring Limbo with Virgil, Virgil tells Dante that he and the rest of the virtuous pagans are condemned in Limbo to live eternally without hope. Dante asks his guide, […] "Dear sir, my master,"...
Daniel's user avatar
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Why are "Ser" and "San" left untranslated to "Sir" and "Saint"?

Day 1 Story 1 of the Decameron is about the knavish Ser Ciappelletto, who after his death becomes reputed as the holy San Ciappelletto. In the Rigg translation which I'm reading, these names are left ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
315 views

How did Dante know so much about geography and astronomy in his Purgatorio?

This answer on the History of Science & Maths SE says that Dante's Purgatorio contains a lot of what would now be considered "worldbuilding" which seems fairly advanced for the time: ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
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600 views

Cappello, Cepparello, Ciapperello, Ciappelletto - what's it all about?

Day 1 Story 1 of the Decameron is about a very bad man who makes a false confession just before his death and ends up being lauded as a saint. This man goes by many closely related names, but I don't ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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Boccaccio's portrayal of the Catholic Church

Day 1 Story 2 of the Decameron is essentially a searing satirical critique of the Catholic Church in Rome. A Christian man, Jehannot, is trying to convert his Jewish friend to Christianity; the Jew, ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
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Necessity or benefits of reading Livy before Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy?

Niccolò Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy, written between 1513 and 1519, are not as famous as The Prince, but possibly his best work. Its Italian title, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, ...
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5 votes
0 answers
56 views

Italian "Verismo" story: a farmer knows his wife cheats on him but he pretends he doesn't know it to avoid troubles

I'm trying to find an Italian short story of the "Verismo" literary movement I read a long time ago and now I recall only partially: it's probably by Verga or Capuana or, less likely, ...
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0 answers
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Does Lauretta's rant reflect a real change in the style of jesters in 14th-century Italy?

In Day 1 Story 8 of the Decameron, narrated by Lauretta, she digresses to engage in a long rant about how jesters nowadays aren't what they used to be: [T]here came to Genoa a jester of good parts, a ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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Why does Petrarch's sequence of poems to Laura have three different titles?

Petrarch's celebrated sequence of 366 poems to Laura goes by three different titles. As far as I can tell, they're used interchangeably: Il Canzoniere, The Songbook Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta, ...
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5 votes
0 answers
808 views

Meaning of the chapter structure in Calvino's Invisible Cities

Italo Calvino's book Invisible Cities is essentially a collection of descriptions of cities. What I find interesting is that the chapters follow a specific structure. There are ten categories of ...
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4 votes
1 answer
770 views

How much time did one canto in Dante's Divine Comedy represent (if any)?

Dante's Divine comedy is divided up in Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise) – each of these consists of 33 cantos. Now I'm wondering if there is any indication about how ...
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1 answer
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What's the source of Michelangelo's quote: "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle."?

Many quote Michelangelo as saying that "trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle." For example, the following passage is from the book Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character ...
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4 votes
2 answers
238 views

What does Machiavelli mean on page 29 of The Prince?

What does Machiavelli mean when he says the following in The Prince? he must be a very true friend, or a thoroughly determined enemy of the prince, to keep faith with you. It's on page 29 of this ...
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1 answer
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Why is this chunk of the Decameron Day 3 Story 10 left untranslated?

In the Decameron Web full text of the Decameron and English, which uses the Rigg (1903) translation and is hosted by Brown University, a significant chunk of Day 3 Story 10 is left untranslated: ***...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is the provenance of Story 6 in Day 2 of the Decameron, set against a backdrop of 13th-century Sicily?

Day 2, Story 6 of the Decameron is set against a political backdrop of 13th-century Sicily: it begins with the defeat of King Manfred at Benevento by the new king Charles, and the main characters are ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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How much of the English history in this Decameron story has any basis in fact?

Day 2 Story 3 of the Decameron is a story which deeply involves the English royal family. I don't know how much contact there was between England and Italy in the 14th century, or how much care an ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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Numbering of Petrarch's sonnets

I have a question regarding the numbering of the Petrarch's sonnets. The Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt transcribed for piano three of the Sonnets: 47, 104, 123. We can be sure of which ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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"La guerra" by Goldoni: why was it about waiting for a war commissioner to become rich?

I've started reading Carlo Goldoni's play titled La guerra ('The War'). I haven't found any translation into English. One of the characters is Don Polidoro, the war commissioner. He praises war ...
Charo's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
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What's the significance of Emilia's song at the end of Day 1 of the Decameron?

At the end of Day 1 of the Decameron, after the "crown" has been transferred from Pampinea to Filomena, they all have dinner together and then play music and dance. Emilia sings the ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
441 views

Where did Boccaccio refer to Dante's Comedia or Commedia as the Divine Comedy?

The English Wikipedia article about Dante's Divine Comedy contains the following paragraph, which contains a statement that has no source (emphasis mine): The work was originally simply titled ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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What is the meaning of "Zima" in the Decameron, Day 3 Story 5?

Day 3 Story 5 of the Decameron features a main character who is referred to by the name of Zima: Now there was then in Pistoia a young man, Ricciardo by name, of low origin but great wealth, who went ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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What was wrong with becchini?

From the introductory part of The Decameron, in Pampinea's speech that inspires the seven young women initially to decamp to the countryside, she speaks of the atmosphere in their city of Florence at ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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4 votes
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Why did Machiavelli specifically mention Livy's first ten books in the title of the Discorsi?

The original title of Machiavelli's Discorsi was Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, literally (according to Wikipedia) "Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livy". "Decade" here refers to ...
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Is the fact that "La bottega del caffè" is an ensemble comedy an innovation by Goldoni?

Reading La bottega del caffè, one striking fact is that if you ask who the main characters are, the answer is that there are none. It is truly what we would call today an ensemble piece: there are ...
Charo's user avatar
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Have Bertolt Brecht's plays been influenced by Goldoni's "La guerra"?

Even if it seems that Goldoni's play La guerra ('The War') has never been translated into English, according to the translator Alexander Gross, the play was translated into German no fewer than five ...
Charo's user avatar
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What does this mean about the interpretation of Lauretta's song at the end of Day 3?

At the end of Day 3 of the Decameron, Lauretta sings the following song after dinner, at the request of the new "king" Filostrato: What dame disconsolate May so lament as I, That vainly ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes
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What is the context and origin of this Dante quote?

Can someone explain what this quote means and give a little context? You shall find out how salt is the taste of another man's bread, and how hard is the way up and down another man's stairs. -- ...
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