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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Pentamerone or Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille is a collection of Neapolitan fairy tales by Italian writer Giambattista Basile. Known in English as "The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones", it was published posthumously in two volumes by his sister Adriana in Naples, Italy in 1634 and 1636 under the pseudonym Gian Alesio Abbatutis. The tales were translated by Sir Richard Burton in 1893.

The title Pentamerone was first used in the 1674 edition, because it is constructed roughly upon the model of the Decamerone of Boccaccio.

The style of the stories is heavily Baroque, with many metaphorical usages,such as referring to the dawn as

  • "the Sun, like a chief physician, went out to visit the flowers that are sick and languid,"
  • "The next morning, as soon as the shades of Night, pursued by the constables of the Sun, had fled the country,"
  • "as soon as the Sun with his golden broom had swept away the dirt of the Night from the fields watered by the dawn".
  • "as the Night, having aided the robbers, is banished from the sky, and goes about collecting the faggots of twilight"
  • "as soon as the Sun opened his bank to deliver the deposit of light to the Creditor of the Day,"

This has been interpreted as a satire on Baroque style, but as Basile praised the style, and used it in his other works, it appears to have no ironic intention.

See also

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