The Other Voice’s edition of Barbara Torelli’s pastoral drama Partenia (c. 1586) is a groundbreaking contribution to the study of early modern Italian literature and women’s writing. This is the first ever print edition of the earliest secular play by an Italian woman, acclaimed at the time of its composition—the drama theorist Angelo Ingegneri placed it on a par with Tasso’s Aminta and Guarini’s Patsor fido—but long forgotten, to the extent that it was believed lost until the early twentieth century, when the first manuscript of it surfaced in Cremona.
Partenia is unusual within the spectrum of Italian pastoral drama for its moral austerity and its spiritual overtones; a strange, haunting work, it well exemplifies the new directions Italian literature was taking at this time under the influence of Counter-Reformation religious fervor, and provides a fascinating counterpoint to the better-known pastorals of Isabella Andreini, Maddalena Campiglia, and Mary Wroth. Lisa Sampson and Barbara Burgess-Van Aken’s superb introduction, the fruit of intensive archival research, contains much new information on Torelli and her literary and intellectual context in Parma, and expertly locates Partenia within the traditions of pastoral drama and of late-Renaissance Italian literature as a whole.
Professor, Department of Italian Studies
New York University
LISA SAMPSON is Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Reading (UK), the author of Pastoral Drama in Early Modern Italy: The Making of a New Genre (2006) and co-editor (with Virginia Cox) of Maddalena Campiglia’s Flori, a Pastoral Drama (OV Chicago series, 2004).
BARBARA BURGESS-VAN AKEN is a SAGES Fellow in the Department of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she completed her PhD in 2007: “Partenia: A Bilingual Critical Edition.”
Iter and the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, 2013
The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: The Toronto Series 22
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