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Born Dec. 13. 1720, in Venice; died there Apr. 4, 1806. Italian playwright.
Gozzi was the descendant of an aristocratic but impoverished family. He was a military man, but from 1744 he devoted himself to literature and the theater. In his struggle against the Enlightenment playwright C. Goldoni, Gozzi created an original genre of theatrical fable—the fiabe, which utilized plot motifs from folklore and certain principles of the commedia dell’arte (mask characters, dialect, improvisation, and so on). Among such works were The Love of Three Oranges (1761). The Raven (1761). The Stag King (1762), Turandot (1762). and The Green Bird (1765). Gozzi’s fables were characterized by contrast between good and evil, pathos and buffoonery, and archaic literary language and everyday Venetian dialect. They glorified lofty human passions and ridiculed bourgeois egoism: nevertheless, their aim was the “education of the lower classes’* in the spirit of religion and blind obedience to their sovereigns (“A Purehearted Discourse and True History of the Origin of My Ten Fables for the Theater”). Gozzi also wrote 23 tragicomedies in the manner of the Spanish “cape and dagger comedies” and Useless Memoirs (1797), which contain a vivid picture of the theatrical life of Venice. Gozzi was quickly forgotten in Italy, but his fables evoked great interest in F. Schiller and among German and French romanticists. E. B. Vakhtangov staged a brilliant production of Turandot in 1922, and S. Prokofiev composed an opera based on motifs from The Love of Three Oranges.
WORKSLe Fiabe. Edited by E. Masi. Bologna, 1884.
In Russian translation:
Skazki dlia teatra. Introduction by S. S. Mokul’skii. Moscow, 1956.
REFERENCESMokul’skii, S. S. Ital’ianskaia literatura: Vozrozhdenie i Pros-veshchenie.Moscow, 1966.
Reizov, B. G. Ital’ianskaia literatura XVIII v. Leningrad, 1966.
R. I. KHLODOVSII