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History of Humor: Renaissance Europe

  • By: John Parkin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

The particular quality of Renaissance humor is marked by a pattern common to many aspects of that period's culture, namely, the effect on endemic medieval traditions of the enormous importance authors then began to ascribe to the classics. To take one example, the discovery in 1433 of Donatus's commentaries on the Roman playwright Terence had a significant impact on the development of Italy's commedia erudita (learned comedy), which in turn influenced comic dramatists in other languages and lands who adopted the Italian model. This pattern remained constant throughout the 16th century and beyond, even when writers like Lope de Vega (1562–1635) and Ben Jonson (1572–1637) stressed their independence from ancient sources.

In intellectual matters, Desiderius Erasmus must be named as the major satirist of the early ...

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