He is the reference point in the Italian literature to the 17th Century and the author of the longest Italian poem. Here is the history of the man who wrote the Italian Baroque literature.
Giambattista Marino (or Giovan Battista Marino) was born in Naples in 1569 and is the most important Italian writer of the 17th century.
In 1600 he started to work as a poet for the Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini in Rome. Under his aegis he published Le rime (1602) and start to write what was to become his masterpiece, the poem ‘Adone’. In 1608 he moved to Torino to write for Carlo Emanuele I his biography. Here he worked on ‘Adone’ and in 1615 was sent to the Court of France by Queen Maria de’Medici. In Paris he wrote some of his best-known works like ‘gli Epitalami’ (poetry for marriages), ‘La galleria’, about sculpture and contemporary artists and La sampogna, with mythological and bucolic topics.
But it’s in 1623 that he received acclaim for ‘Adone’, published in Paris and Venice in 1638 thanks to the support of Luigi XIII (the poem is dedicated to him). Giambattista died in 1625. The book remained unaccomplished – he died suddenly before completion.
With 40,000 verses divided in 20 songs, ‘Adone’ is the longest poem in Italian literature. The plot is light yet literary forceful. Venere falls for Adone, a beautiful young man. Marte, jealous, puts Adone through all sorts of obstacles and in the end he orchestrates his death at the hands of a wild boar.
It was excuse for Marino to write a beautiful piece of literature that had no logical narrative purpose. Forget about the heroic classical poems: Adone is an entertaining read, exactly because it has no pretence other than to engage you with little stories, anecdotes and allusions just as the Greek and Roman authors of fairy tales (Apuleio, Bione…).
If you want to find out about one of the books that have marked the Italian Baroque period, buy ‘Adone’ on Amazon.
Written by: Elisa della Barba