On October 31st I will be releasing my own translation of Pietro Aretino’s Dialogues.
The Dialogues is a 16th-century work of comedy pornography, to my knowledge the first of its kind. Pietro Aretino was, of course, the original pornographer; he produced the world’s first work of commercial pornography with Giulio Romano, an apprentice of Raphael’s. It was ten years later he went on to write the Dialogues.
The Dialogues are a revolutionary text in that they upturned the custom in Italy of writing in classical Latin. Aretino was the first to pen a work of literature in the common tongue of the day, and it is this fact more than anything that has inspired this translation. I have rendered the Dialogues into the common tongue, giving it the coarseness it so deserves.
The Dialogues, Book One, will be released on October 31st, availble on Amazon.
Nanna has been a nun. She’s been a wife. She has also been a courtesan. And now, as her daughter turns sixteen, she must decide how to advise on her path in life. On what route should she send young Pippa?
Bawdy, filthy, hilarious and uproarious, listen to Nanna regale her friend Antonia with scandalous tales—tales of seduction, blasphemy, lies, dishonesty, thievery, nastiness, cruelty and treachery—in an attempt to decide on what course to set her daughter: should she be a nun, a wife or a courtesan?
Pietro Aretino, Biography
Pietro Aretino was a wordsmith. A pornographer. A playwright. He was a hustler too. After a riotous youth in Perugia he moved to Rome, where he shacked up in the mansion of a rich old hedonist called Agostino Chigi, who kept a harem of young lads whose main purpose was the entertainment of rich old men.
Aretino was one of those lads, who peddled their arses for access to high society. No doubt he rubbed up against a few cardinals while at the mansion; it was a notorious party place for the Roman elite.
It was here he got his first break in the arts. It is said he was involved in various projects of the artist Raphael, and it was Raphel’s apprentice, Giulio Romano, with whom Aretino would later create the world’s first work of commercial pornography.
Shakespeare, we know for sure, was intimately familiar with the work of Giulio Romano – he even mentions him by name in The Winter’s Tale. What also seems possible, however, is that Shakespeare was a fan of Pietro Aretino’s work. Considerable (too many to be mere coincidence) parallels exist between Aretino’s play The Courtier and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. And since Shakespeare liked to ‘draw heavily from the Italian well’, it is almost certain he read Aretino. And, we can surmise, loved it.
Pietro Aretino was a literary pioneer. In an era when most works of Italian literature were penned in Latin, Aretino chose to write in the common Italian tongue of his day. It is this fact more than anything else that has inspired this interpretation. For to be fully appreciated, Aretino should be read in a language that speaks to the modern reader, for the profanity, the blasphemy, the irreverence and the comedy, do not come across fully without it.
Perhaps in this day and age, when we have seen, heard and done everything, The Dialogues does not have the same impact. But one fact is true and will remain always so: Aretino’s Dante-like depiction of sixteenth-century Rome was the first true work of comedy–pornography. And to date, no one has done it better.