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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/16

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PREFACE.

in keeping. In the most graceful and varied similes is expressed the rushing of the stream, the murmuring of the brook, the depth and darkness of the forest shades, and the warbling of the birds; and in the midst of a torrent of Eastern imagery, the quiet and faithful observation of nature takes us by surprise. The language is rich to overflowing in similes, play upon words, proverbs and rimes, which our language is for the most part incapable of rendering; and we may notice here a peculiarity in these tales (which they share with all good ones of a similar character), namely a continual recurrence, in the important and descriptive parts of the narrative, of simple but inimitable rimes, which give animation to the narrator and fix the attention of the listener. Thus in Peruonto,—'Damme passe e ffico se vuoje che te lo ddico;' and in Cenerentola, 'Spoglia a te, e vieste a me.'"

Extravagant as Basile’s language and imagery are, we must recollect that a puerile fondness for concetti was characteristic of his age, in which the Italian language was in its decline. Few withstood the prevalent perverted taste, and the writings of Guarini, Testi, Chiabrera and Pascali are but partial exceptions. Basile however can scarcely be reproached with the bad taste of the Seicentisti, for the very excess of his conceits is their justification. In fact, as the author of Lo Vemaccliio (a Neapolitan critic of the last century) observes, not only are Basile’s images perfectly in the spirit of the Neapolitan people, but he, as well as his friend Cortese, frequently intended, by their pur-