The foremost French author of the Renaissance/Reformation era is Michel de Montaigne, the first great modern writer (and perhaps greatest all-time writer) of the essay, which can be defined as "a short prose examination of a subject"; indeed, Montaigne himself coined the term "essay" (from the French "essai", meaning "attempt"). Prior to Montaigne, who established the essay as one of the most popular methods of Western expression, only a handful of ancient philosophers had embraced the form. Montaigne's essays, written over the late sixteenth century, explore such profound human themes as friendship, ethics, and death.
As noted earlier, the foremost literary tongues of the Renaissance/Reformation period were Italian, French, Spanish, and English. The first century of this period witnessed the pinnacle of Italian literature; the last century, of Spanish and English literature. French literature (which, along with German, would culminate in the Romantic age) is less prominent during this period.
Renaissance architects attempted to re-create Greek and Roman theaters, but because their information was often ambiguous or incomplete, the result was a new style of theater architecture. Serlio adapted the Roman form to rectangular palace halls, but no building specifically designed as a theater was constructed until the 1530s. The oldest surviving Renaissance theater is Andrea Palladio's Teatro Olimpico.
The major development in Renaissance theater architecture was the proscenium arch--a curved or rectangular frame enclosing the stage--which is found in many modern theaters. The first theater to use the proscenium arch was the Teatro Farnese (1619) in Parma, Italy, designed by Giovanni Battista Aleotti (1546-1636). The proscenium arch masks the offstage space and aids scenic illusion by separating the stage and auditorium; the audience must look through the opening onto the stage. The U-shaped seating area for the audience in the Teatro Farnese also influenced theater design and is now a common feature of European theaters and Opera Houses. The Teatro Farnese was the first theater designed for the use of movable scenery and one of the first to use a curtain in front of the proscenium arch. Its steeply banked seating tiers held an audience of 3,500, who came to see the fabulous spectacles that only a theater of this size and complexity could mount: not only opera, ballet, and drama, but--on the spacious orchestra floor separating the audience from the stage--extravaganzas and ceremonials of all kinds.
As noted in the previous article, epic legends (in the form of narrative poetry and prose) are by far the most prominent works of medieval literature; consequently, even though many other types of literature flourished during the Middle Ages, these are relatively unfamiliar to modern readers. Fortunately, much of the character of medieval literature is present in the works of the fourteenth-century Italian authors, given that they stand at the very dawn of the Renaissance era. Through Petrarch, one is exposed to the qualities of medieval lyric poetry; through Boccaccio, to the qualities of non-epic medieval story-telling.
The origins of Commedia dell'Arte are not clear. Historians have several theories. Yet, all agree that commedia emerged during the Renaissance in Tuscany, Italy around 1545 and continued until the middle of the eighteenth century. One popular theory is that commedia is traced back to the Roman farce, Atellan., of the 3 century BC. Fabulae atellanae were short, largely improvised plays based on everyday situations and mythology. Many times one character would mime as another narrated. It had four principle characters, each with a fixed costume and mask: Pappos, a silly old man, Bucco, a comic know-it-all, Maccus, the fool, and Dossenus, a sly hunchback. Therefore, many historians link this to the vecchi and the two zanni, Pulcinella one of them, of commedia.
Boccaccio, the greatest writer of Italian prose, is renowned chiefly for the Decameron, a collection of one hundred short stories. The tales, ranging from earthy comedies to romantic tragedies, are framed by a story of ten travellers, each of whom tells ten stories in order to pass the time. Many of the stories were not freshly composed by Boccaccio, but rather skilful reworkings of folktales. (Indeed, creative adaptation of preexisting work has been common artistic practice in all media throughout history.) The firm humanism of Boccaccio's work (e.g. the realistic speech and behaviour of his characters) secure his place as a distinctly Renaissance author.
Of these two sets of circumstances, the political and the economic, which do you think was most important in creating an environment ripe for the Renaissance to flourish Why
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The most visible manifestation of the Renaissance comes from artistic genius and innovation, but the defining feature of the period is an outlook or worldview called humanism. Both of these developed in a particular set of circumstances, a unique historical context that characterized the northern Italian city-states and that we call the Renaissance. Their dominance of Mediterranean trade made these Italian cities into prosperous commercial centers where powerful merchants displaced the old landed aristocracy in positions of power and influence. The resulting social structure bore little resemblance to the traditional ordered society of the Middle Ages. Another point of uniqueness was Italian cities’ relatively independent political development that led first to republican forms and then to despotism. In the process, they laid the foundations for modern political thought.
The book includes artists as diverse as Piero della Francesca, Van Eyck, Durer, Mantegna and Bellini, as well as the High Renaissance masters Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
Renaissance literally means re-birth. During the 16th c. we see a re-birth and growth in every area of the arts. As theorist evolved a set of guidelines for playwrights to follow, artists and architects design new theatres from seating arrangements to scene design to the mechanics of scene shifting. [NOTE: Women performed onstage for the entire period. As a result, the practice of allowing women to perform spread throughout Europe.]
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