A love note to Giambattista Basile

“Oh, wretched is the woman that lets herself be impregnated by the words of men…”
Giambattista Basile
(The Tale of Tales 192)

Von_Bayros_Pentamerone_08

Illustration by Franz Von Bayros


I’m in the process of editing some old academic work in the hopes of sending it in for publication, and I recently came across this gem. Giambattista Basile (1566-1632) is an under-appreciated writer and philologist from Naples, Italy. He was the first to produce a written collection of fairy tales in a European language (Neapolitan), Lo Cunto de li Cunti (or The Tale of Tales: Or, Entertainment for Little Ones)and was a major, if little known, influence on the Grimms. I spent a lot of time with him in undergrad and love him very dearly. The Tale of Tales is wildly flawed piece of writing, but spectacularly so. It’s difficult to love and impossible not to.

The French Wikipedia entry  on Basile is much more informative, if you can or care to.

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