The New International Encyclopædia/Guarini, Giovanni Battista
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Guarini, Giovanni Battista
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GUARINI, gwȧ-rē'nḗ, Giovanni Battista (1538-1612). An Italian poet, born at Ferrara. On the termination of his studies at the universities of Pisa, Padua, and Ferrara, he was appointed to the chair of literature in the last, and soon after the publication of some sonnets obtained for him great popularity as a poet. At the age of thirty he accepted service at the Court of Ferrara, and was intrusted by Duke Alfonso II. with various diplomatic missions. Differences between him and the Duke induced him to withdraw from the Court of Ferrara about the year 1587. Having resided successively in Savoy, Mantua, Florence, and Urbino, he returned to his native Ferrara, and discharged one final public mission, that of congratulating Pope Paul V. on his election (1605). He died in Venice, whither he had been summoned to attend a lawsuit.
As a poet he is remarkable for refined grace of language and sweetness of sentiment, while his defects are occasional artificiality, due to an unnatural quintessence of conceit, a too constant recurrence of antithetical imagery, and an affected dallying with his pleas. His chief and most popular work, Il pastor fido, is regarded in Italy as a standard of elegant pastoral composition, and obtained a high measure of popularity on its appearance. The writer designed it as a tragicomic pastoral; its first dramatic representation was in honor of the nuptials of the Duke of Savoy and Catharine of Austria (1585). It was not published until 1590, at Venice, and Guarini continued to make changes in it until the twentieth edition appeared at Venice in 1602. Altogether, some 120 editions of this favorite work have been issued; the best is that of G. Casella (Florence, 1866), containing an essay on the poet, which is also to be found in vol. ii. of Casella's Opere (Florence, 1884). Translations of the Pastor fido have appeared in very many modern languages. In its kind, the play has been surpassed only by the Aminta of Tasso. In editorial work Guarini prepared the Scelte delle rime of Tasso, published at Ferrara in 1582. Mention may be made, among Guarini's other works, of his Compendio della poesia tragicomica, published in 1601, and again in the 1602 edition of the Pastor fido; his dialogue, Il segretario (1594), on the duties of a secretary, and on matters of logic, rhetoric, etc.; the prose comedy La idropica, written about 1584 (published 1613); his Lettere (1593); the Trattato della politica libertà (first published in Venice, 1818), Consult: Rossi, Battista Guarini ed. Il pastor fido (Turin, 1880); Cian. in Archivio veneto, second series, vols. xxxii. and xxxiii. (Venice, 1880); Ruggieri's life of Guarini, published in the edition of the Trattato della politica libertà (Venice, 1818); Saviotti, Guariniana (Pesaro, 1888); M. W. Shelley, Lives of the Most Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of Italy, vol. ii. (London, 1835).