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They were artists who fused in their comic artistry the mercantile mentality acquired as bell-makers, blacksmiths, candle-makers, and the like

They were artists who fused in their comic artistry the mercantile mentality acquired as bell-makers, blacksmiths, candle-makers, and the like

In the second capitolo the diminutive prevails

groups are both attracted and repulsed by lower social class embodied by the peasant. Although mainstream criticism (e.g., Ulysse) considers Strascino, along with figures like Legacci and Mescolino, to be among the pre-Rozzi, or precursor of the ‘Congrega dei Rozzi,’ established in Siena in 1531, Valenti rejects that label for artists like Campani, Stricca Legacci, or Mescolino. She prefers to define them as ‘comici artigiani’ since she believes that the ‘comici’ acted before but also simultaneously with the Rozzi. For a complete discussion of the sociocultural scene that subtends the artistic activity of the pre-Rozzi, see Ulysse. As Valenti informs us, Strascino spent some time entertaining the court of Mantua for Carnival celebrations of 1521. In fact, it was Isabella d’Este’s son Federico Gonzaga who instructed Castiglione to obtain the pope’s permission for Strascino’s trip to Mantua (51). Valenti believes that the ‘comici artigiani’ entertained in an area including Siena, Rome, Ferrara, and other ‘corti padane.’ Strascino is the author of some comic poetry, but is best known for his eclogues or ‘farse villanesche,’ a form of comedy where laughter originates from the clash of peasant characters with urban middle-class citizens or characters of the pastoral genre. His plays Strascino, Magrino, and Coltellino, composed between 1511 and 1520, each stage the contrast between the ‘villano’ and the city dweller or the shepherd of traditional pastoral drama. The ‘Lamento,’ a long poem about Strascino’s battle with syphilis, is also very famous. Valenti notes that given Campani’s success in performance, printed versions of his work often appeared several years after their original creation (65). In Rabelais and His World (Introduction, pp. 26–9, and chapter 5) Bakhtin discusses the features of the grotesque body in opposition to the classical canons of antiquity. The grotesque body does not fit the framework of the ‘aesthetics of the beautiful’ as conceived in the Renaissance. The literary and artistic canon of antiquity, which provides the basis for Renaissance aesthetics, represents the classical body as a completed, finished product, totally enclosed, with no mention of inner parts or openings. Spackman examines the grotesque description of the apothecary’s wife in Tifi Odasi’s Macaronea and finds that it is not the product of subversion, but belongs to the topos of the ‘enchantress-turned-hag’ as seen in Dante’s ‘femina balba,’ in Ariosto’s Alcina, and in Machiavelli’s ‘lavandaia’ in the letter to Luigi Guicciardini. This female grotesque for Spackman ‘stands as

See, for example, the extensive reference to gastronomic items in the paradoxical praises of sausage, boiled eggs, cardoon, broad beans, melons, and so on, in Berni, Molza, and Firenzuola, most often with homosexual connotations (216–17)

hermeneutic figure par excellence, for it would reveal truth beneath falsehood, plain speech beneath cosmetic rhetoric, essence beneath appearance’ (22). Spackman sees true subversion in the grotesque female body of the unruly ‘woman on top’ in Natalie Zemon Davis’s essay ‘Women on Top,’ and in Peter Stallybrass’s essay on Othello and the ‘body enclosed’ in ‘Patriarchal Territories.’ Ulysse (223) notes that Ginzburg had already singled out millers as the most hated people in the Renaissance Italian countryside. The logic of the world turned upside down typical of Carnival and folk festivities, which Bakhtin sees as a temporary suspension of all hierarchical rank, privileges, norms, as an occasion for subversion, does not lead to true subversion in Strascino, precisely because poems like Strascino’s were not composed for folk entertainment but for divertissement of the elite. Both Orvieto and Brestolini make this point in La poesia comico-realistica. Some similes rework Nencia. ‘E quel nasin tanto ben bucherato, / che pare un sampognin da far cristeri’ echoes this feature in the Nencia (3 V; 21 P; 3 A ): ‘E in quel mezzo ha il naso tanto bello, / che par proprio bucato col succhiello’ (emphasis is mine). Other diminutives are used for the mouth (‘bocchin par quel d’un campanello’) and the chin (‘mentino auzzo e tondarello’). In Strascino the same comparative formula (‘che par’) is used for the nose, but the disgusting detail of ‘cristeri’ lowers the gracious tones of the Nencia. For more intertextual references, see Longhi’s notes to the poems in Poeti, 938–43. The metaphor of the earth/land and ‘orto’ for the woman’s genitals and the activity of tilling or working the earth is common in popular literature and in ‘poesia rusticana,’ but is also found in Boccaccio’s Decameron (II, 10; III, 1) and in Poliziano. Many textual parallelisms exist between this capitolo and the Nencia. Strascino’s ‘dama’ is introduced as an incomparable model of beauty similar to Diana and superior to Helen and Morgan le Fay: ‘Tu mi pari oggi la deia Driana, / . tu matti Elena e la fata Morgana.’ In Nencia (M, stanza 6) the peasant is compared to Morgan and Diana as a star: ‘I’ t’o aguagliata alla fata Morgana, / . i’ t’assomiglio alla stella diana.’ In terms of proportion, rustic poems ambiguously oscillate between the excessive (accrescitivo) and the diminutive. For the face of legit postordre bruder the ‘dama’ Stracino uses ‘faccino,’ which is

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