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"Speak plainly, and say cu', ca', po' and fo'." --Ragionamenti (1534–36) by Pietro Aretino

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Ragionamenti (1534–36; "reasonings", also called sei giornate) by Pietro Aretino is a series of dialogue between a seasoned prostitute and a beginner. Pippa is the beginner and Nanna is the experienced one. The first one is entitled Ragionamento della Nanna e della Antonia[1] (1534), the second Dialogo nel quale la Nanna insegna a la Pippa[2] (1536).

Each volume covers three days, bringing the total to six days or Sei giornate. During the first three days Nanna goes in search of what is best for her daughter Pippa. She has three options: she can leave her daughter in a convent, let her marry, or introduce her to prostitution. Together with her friend Antonia each day they debate one situation. Ultimately, she concludes that every choice includes lovemaking. In this respect it seems better to ensure that her daughter becomes a prostitute so she is at least paid for her efforts.

In the last three days, the author tells what being a prostitute involves, describes the weaknesses of men and discusses procuring.

Both texts are parodies of contemporary moralistic dialogues - in particular Pietro Bembos Gli Asolani from 1505 and Baldassare Castigliones Il Libro del Cortegiano from 1528.

The book was illustrated by such artists as Paul-Emile Bécat and Franz von Bayros.

The stories were made into an Italian film as L'Aretino nei suoi ragionamenti sulle cortigiane, le maritate e... i cornuti contenti, directed by Enrico Bomba.

In favour of "calling a spade a spade"

In the following words spoken by Antonia in Aretino's Reasonings, she argues for the abandonment of sexual euphemisms and sexual symbolism in literature in favour of calling a spade a spade.

Speak plainly, and say cu, ca, po and fo [two-letter abbreviations for culo, cazzo, potta and fottere] ; otherwise thou wilt be understood by nobody, if it be not by the Sapienza Capranica, with thy rope in the ring, thy obelisk in the Culiseum, thy leak in the garden, thy key in the lock, thy pestle in the mortar, thy nightingale in the nest, thy dibble in the drill, thy syringe in the valve, thy stock in the scabbard, and the stake, crosier, parsnip, little monkey, the this, the that, the apples, the Missal leaves, the affair, the verbi gratia, the thing, the job, the story, the handle, the dart, the carrot, the root and the shit, mayst thou have it! ... I shall not say in the snout, since thou wilt walk on the tips of thy shoes. Well, say yes for yes, and no for no, or else keep it to yourself. --tr. Peter Stafford, 1970, Odyssey Press, probably earlier, see The Ragionamenti, or Dialogues of the Divine Pietro Aretino, Literally translated into English. — Paris. Isidore Liseux, 1889.

Original Italian

Io te lo ho voluto dire, ed emmisi scordato: parla alla libera, e dì «cu’, ca’, po’ e fo’», che non sarai intesa se non dalla Sapienza Capranica con cotesto tuo «cordone nello anello», «guglia nel coliseo», «porro nello orto», «chiavistello ne l’uscio», «chiave nella serratura», «pestello nel mortaio», «rossignuolo nel nido», «piantone nel fosso», «sgonfiatoio nella animella», «stocco nella guaina»; e così «il piuolo», «il pastorale», «la pastinaca», «la monina», «la cotale», «il cotale», «le mele», «le carte del messale», «quel fatto», «il verbigrazia», «quella cosa», «quella faccenda», «quella novella», «il manico», «la freccia», «la carota», «la radice» e la merda che ti sia non vo’ dire in gola, poi che vuoi andare su le punte dei zoccoli; ora dl sì al sì e no al no: se non, tientelo.[3]

Full text in Italian[4]

See also

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