1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gozzi, Carlo, Count
GOZZI, CARLO, Count (1722–1806), Italian dramatist, was descended from an old Venetian family, and was born at Venice in March 1722. Compelled by the embarrassed condition of his father's affairs to procure the means of self-support, he, at the age of sixteen, joined the army in Dalmatia; but three years afterwards he returned to Venice, where he soon made a reputation for himself as the wittiest member of the Granelleschi society, to which the publication of several satirical pieces had gained him admission. This society, nominally devoted to conviviality and wit, had also serious literary aims, and was especially zealous to preserve the Tuscan literature pure and untainted by foreign influences. The displacement of the old Italian comedy by the dramas of Pietro Chiari (1700–1788) and Goldoni, founded on French models, threatened defeat to all their efforts; and in 1757 Gozzi came to the rescue by publishing a satirical poem, Tartana degli influssi per l'anno bisestile, and in 1761 by his comedy, Fiaba dell' amore delle tre melarancie, a parody of the manner of the two obnoxious poets, founded on a fairy tale. For its representation he obtained the services of the Sacchi company of players, who, on account of the popularity of the comedies of Chiari and Goldoni—which afforded no scope for the display of their peculiar talents—had been left without employment; and as their satirical powers were thus sharpened by personal enmity, the play met with extraordinary success. Struck by the effect produced on the audience by the introduction of the supernatural or mythical element, which he had merely used as a convenient medium for his satirical purposes, Gozzi now produced a series of dramatic pieces based on fairy tales, which for a period obtained great popularity, but after the breaking up of the Sacchi company were completely disregarded. They have, however, obtained high praise from Goethe, Schlegel, Madame de Staél and Sismondi; and one of them, Re Turandote, was translated by Schiller. In his later years Gozzi set himself to the production of tragedies in which the comic element was largely introduced; but as this innovation proved unacceptable to the critics he had recourse to the Spanish drama, from which he obtained models for various pieces, which, however, met with only equivocal success. He died on the 4th of April 1806.