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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/14

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PREFACE.

Adriana[1], a celebrated singer, to Mantua, and entered the service of the Duke, whose favour he enjoyed. He travelled much in Italy, and returned to Naples, where he must have died about the year 1637. . . The numerous editions which the work has gone through would alone bespeak a certain value, but we may add that this collection of tales is indeed the best and richest that has been made in any country. Not only was tradition at that period more complete, but the author possessed peculiar skill in seizing upon it; in addition to which he had a perfect knowledge of the Neapolitan dialect. These stories are consequently almost entire . . . in two-thirds of them we observe the same leading features as in the German tales, existing to the present day. Basile has introduced no alteration, scarcely a single addition of any importance, and this circumstance gives his work a peculiar value. His narration has all the sportive, witty, and lively spirit of the Neapolitan people; he makes continual allusion to the manners and customs of the country, as well as to ancient history and

  1. Adriana of Mantua—for her beauty called "la bella Adriana"—and her daughter Leonora Baroni, were the finest singers of their day in Italy. A volume of poems in Adriana's honour was published in 1623, entitled 'Teatro della gloria d'Adriana.' Another volume, in Greek, Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish, in praise of Leonora, was printed at Rome in 1636, called 'Applausi poetici alle glorie della Signora Leonora Baroni.' M. Maugars, in his 'Discours sur la Musique d'ltalie,' printed in Paris in 1672, has given a long account of Leonora and her mother. "I must not forget," says he, "that one day she did me the particular favour to sing with her mother and sister: her mother played upon the lute, her sister upon the harp, and herself upon the theorbo. This concert so powerfully captivated my senses, that I forgot my mortality, et crus étre déjà parmi les anges." Milton was introduced to Adriana and her daughter and heard them play at the concerts of Cardinal Barberini at Rome; he has celebrated Leonora in three of his Latin Epigrams, and in an Italian Canzone.