GUARINI, Giovanni Battista

Giovanni Battista Guarini, a native of Ferrara, the Renaissance Italian city­state ruled by the influential Este family, served in the court of Duke Alfonso II as both a diplomatic functionary and a court poet. Guarini's primary literary contribution is the highly acclaimed pastoral drama Il pastor fido.
Descended from a long line of influential humanists—among them Guarino da Verona (1374-1460), a prominent founder of Renaissance letters—Giovanni Battista Guarini was born at Ferrara, Italy, in 1538. In his youth, Guarini studied at Pisa and Padua. When he returned to Ferrara, he became a professor of eloquence and enjoyed the reputation of a poet among his friends and family. Through his marriage with Taddea di Niccolo Bendidio, Guarini affiliated him­self with a noble Ferrarese family.
Guarini earned Annibal Caro's* praise for his early sonnets. Alfonso's court poet, Torquato Tasso,* the author of the pastoral drama Aminta (1573) and the poem Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered, 1581), befriended the young Guarini before a quarrel over a lady ended their friendship.
Disdaining a life devoted only to literary pursuits, Guarini actively sought the advantages associated with the life of a courtier. Alfonso II, the duke of Ferrara, employed Guarini on numerous diplomatic missions: to Venice, to congratulate the new doge; to Rome, to pay homage to the new pope, Gregory XIII; and to Poland, in support of Henri of Valois's election to the crown. After Henri of Valois's accession to the throne of France, Alfonso II dispatched Guarini to negotiate what turned out to be his unsuccessful election to the Polish throne. Alfonso acknowledged Guarini's diplomatic endeavors on his behalf by knight­ing him.
After Tasso's disgrace, Guarini served as the poetic authority at the Este court, although, writing in 1595, he claimed that "poetry has been my pastime, never my profession." Written in emulation of Tasso's Aminta, Guarini's pastoral drama Il pastor fido was composed sometime between 1580 and 1585 and was published in 1590, and its popularity and controversial nature assured its wide publication. In its defense, Guarini insisted that hints in Aristotle's Poetics au­thorized his decision to mix genres in the construction of his pastoral tragicom­edy. Il pastor fido's strengths included a strong plot, realistic characters, humor, and candid sensuality. Il pastor fido, the principal monument of Guarini's poetic genius, exerted tremendous influence on his contemporaries in Italy, France, and England. Numerous editions and translations of the play appeared in Guarini s lifetime.
G. Grillo, Poets at the Court ofFerrara: Ariosto, Tasso, and Guarini, 1943.
B. Weinberg, A History of Literary Criticism in the Italian Renaissance, 2 vols., 1961.
Debbie Barrett-Graves

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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  • Guarini, (Giovanni) Battista — (10 dic. 1538, Ferrara–7 oct. 1612, Venecia). Poeta italiano. En 1567 entró al servició de Alfonso II, duque de Ferrara, como cortesano y diplomático. En 1579 reemplazó a su amigo Torquato Tasso como poeta de la corte. Se le atribuye haber… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Guarini, (Giovanni) Battista — born Dec. 10, 1538, Ferrara died Oct. 7, 1612, Venice Italian poet. In 1567 he entered the service of Alfonso II, duke of Ferrara, as courtier and diplomat. In 1579 he replaced his friend Torquato Tasso as court poet. With Tasso, he is credited… …   Universalium

  • Guarini, Giovanni Battista — ► (1538 1612) Poeta italiano. Autor de Pastor fido …   Enciclopedia Universal

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