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The Symbolic Literature of the Renaissance

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Italian: Burleschi

Authority: Addison

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Burleschi comes from the Italian burla meaning mockery. The word was coined by the 16th century Italian poet Francesco Berni who specialized in the genre.

     The burlesque was another of the performing arts which were included by contemporaries as one of the symbolic genres. The genre is ancient having been popular with the early Greek playwrights. There are two types of burlesque: high, in which a low subject is treated with a high style and low or travesty in which a high subject is treated with low style. There was also burlesque poetry. The painter and poet Agnolo Bronzino (1503-1572) composed some 50 burlesque poems called the Capitoli.

     Another genre was the burlesque letter or epistola bufonesca. Letter writing as a whole had burgeoned during the Renaissance, particularly in Italy and Spain. There were news letters, there were published collections of letters for instance by Pietro Aretino and  in Don Quixote, Sancho Panza was continually writing amusing letters back to his wife. (Lewalski 81) Comic letters were used by fools in the Spanish courts and even  Erasmus insisted on the desirability of keeping the letter light-hearted. ‘In every class of letters we should include a joke wherever the subject matter permits.’ And ‘the first consideration is that the joke should be timely, gentlemanly and mindful of propriety.’ (De Conscribendis epistolis 1522)

See also: Dramatic Writings, Jokes