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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/15

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PREFACE.

mythology, an acquaintance with which is pretty generally diffused in Italy: in this respect these tales present a striking contrast to the quiet and simple style of the German stories."

Basile was also the author of an epic poem entitled 'Carlo Quinto,' and a 'Raccolta di Madrigali, Canzoni e Sonetti.' The Pentamerone first appeared in 1637, under the title of 'Lo Cunto de li Cunte, overo Trattenemiento de li Peccerille.'

Dr. Jacob Grimm, in his valuable preface prefixed to Mr. Liebrecht's German translation of this work,[1] (of which I shall speak presently,) says:—"The reader of Basile's stories sees at a glance that the materials and the basis of them all are taken from existing tradition; and nothing proves the imperishable nature of these elements more than the circumstance, that even an extravagance of imagery, unsuited to their simplicity, fails to deprive them of their charm or injure them in any way. Straparola had previously produced a number of similar tales, taken directly from the people themselves, which are more broad and less animated; but wherever he comes upon the same ground as the Neapolitan, we must give the palm of imagination in all cases to Basile. . . How inexhaustible is the imagery with which in every page daybreak and sunset are described! and although these descriptions may often seem forced and misplaced, they are yet full of ingenuity and strictly

  1. I much regret that I have not space to give this entire, as I had intended; it contains a critical examination of several of the tales. The student will also find many particulars relating to the Neapolitan writers and their works in Mr. Liebrecht's Appendix.