Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Tasso—considered to be one of the greatest Italian poets—reflects the crisis of his age, and his writings seek to reconcile classical ideals with the renewed religious fervor arising from the Counter-Reformation. In this attempt to synthesize the vision of perfection and human dignity of the classics with Christian spiritual values lies the significance of his major works.
Torquato Tasso was born in the coastal village of Sorrento, just south of Naples. His mother came from a noble Neapolitan family, while his father, originally from the northern town of Bergamo, was a diplomat and an accomplished man of letters who wrote a well-known chivalric poem entitled Amadigi in 1560. Although Tasso’s first years were spent in the serene and idyllic atmosphere of the Mediterranean Sea, they were soon disturbed by a sudden and unexpected turbulence: His father, caught in the political misfortunes of his protector, the Prince of Salerno, was forced into exile, and all of his goods were confiscated. At the age of ten, Tasso was taken from the Jesuit school in Naples, where for two years he had studied Latin and Greek and had received a thorough religious training, and sent to Rome to be with his father. Thus began the agitated and roaming existence that was to mark his entire life, first by necessity and later as a tormented vocation. This abrupt separation from his mother, whom he was...
(The entire section is 2085 words.)
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Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
A man of letters, cultured but without means, Torquato Tasso’s father, Bernardo, entered the most logical profession for a man of his condition: courtier to princes. His longest service was with Ferrante Sanseverino, prince of Salerno, who paid him well and respected his need to write. During the good years of this association, Bernardo, then more than forty years old, decided to marry a noblewoman of Tuscan descent, Porzia de’ Rossi. The union was happy, and, in 1544, a son, Torquato, was born. Educated in the classics, the boy was happy until international political intrigue shattered the family’s existence. Sanseverino was branded a rebel and forced into exile, a fate Bernardo chose to share. At the age of ten, Torquato was allowed to join his now impoverished father in a life of exile, wandering from court to court across Northern Italy, separated from his only sister, Cornelia, and soon orphaned by the sudden death of his beloved mother. His education continued, culminating in legal and philosophical studies at the University of Padua. Torquato proved a less than exemplary student in conduct but a promising poet and intellectual. At eighteen, he published his first important work, Rinaldo, and began writing the first of his love canzonieri, conventional compositions but works that reflected his lifelong commitment to epic literature and lyric poetry. On completion of his studies, he chose to follow his father’s example and his own...
(The entire section is 796 words.)
Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry)
Other Literary Forms
Torquato Tasso’s literary work begins and ends with his discussions of poetic theory. As early as 1561 but certainly before 1570, he had composed Discorsi dell’arte poetica (1587; discourses on the poetic art), and he published a much revised and expanded version of the same work, Discorsi del poema eroico (1594; Discourses on the Heroic Poem, 1973) the year before his death. The latter is both a defense of Tasso’s own epics and an influential statement of Renaissance critical theory. Tasso’s Dialoghi (1581) embraces a variety of subjects and often includes Tasso himself as one of the speakers; these dialogues are modeled after those of Plato. Tasso’s Lettere (1587, 1588, 1616-1617), numbering as many as seventeen hundred, constitute a rich source of information about his life in elegantly crafted prose. Tasso’s pastoral drama Aminta (pr. 1573; English translation, 1591), celebrates love and has been far more influential than his tragedy of mistaken identities and incest, Il re Torrismondo (pb. 1587; the King Torrismondo).
Torquato Tasso’s importance in the history of letters is twofold: His own prodigious work has great merit, and he exerted enormous influence on...
(The entire section is 4398 words.)
Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The Renaissance)
Torquato Tasso was born in the coastal village of Sorrento, just south of Naples. His mother came from a noble Neapolitan family, while his father, originally from the northern town of Bergamo, was a diplomat and an accomplished man of letters who wrote a well-known chivalric poem entitled Amadigi in 1560. Although Tasso’s first years were spent in the serene and idyllic atmosphere of the Mediterranean Sea, they were soon disturbed by a sudden and unexpected turbulence: His father, caught in the political misfortunes of his protector, the Prince of Salerno, was forced into exile, and all of his goods were confiscated. At the age of ten, Tasso was taken from the Jesuit school in Naples, where for two years he had studied Latin and Greek and had received a thorough religious training, and sent to Rome to be with his father. Thus began the agitated and roaming existence that was to mark his entire life, first by necessity and later as a tormented vocation. This abrupt separation from his mother, whom he was never to see again (she died prematurely a year later in 1556), left in the young Tasso an indelible impression that was to influence his lyrical production and reinforce his pessimistic view of the human condition. In 1557, he was at the court of Urbino; his father had just entered in the service of the duke, who was aware of Torquato’s penchant for poetry and wanted the precocious young man to be a study companion to his...
(The entire section is 1982 words.)
Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Torquato Tasso (TAHS-soh) was the son of Bernardo Tasso, a famous Italian poet exiled from Naples during his son’s childhood. Tasso spent his early years in Naples with his mother, who sent him to school with the Jesuits. When he was ten, he joined his father at Pesaro, where he and the heir to the duke of Urbino were tutored together. In 1557 his father sent him to study law at the University of Padua. Finding the law uninteresting, he turned before long to the study of philosophy and poetry. A few of his poems appeared as early as 1561, but real fame came with the publication of Rinaldo, a romantic epic published while the eighteen-year-old author was still a student at Padua.
After a short period of study at the University of Bologna, Tasso returned to Padua, and by 1565 he had found a wealthy patron in Cardinal Luigi d’Este, a member of the noble house of Ferrara that Tasso was to celebrate in his Jerusalem Delivered (the later title of an epic poem that he had begun at Bologna). The next five years of his life were happy and busy ones, except for the death of his father in 1569. A year later Tasso traveled with the cardinal to Paris, where he met a number of French writers of the period. A short time later a difference of opinion on religious matters caused him to exchange the cardinal’s patronage for that of Duke Alfonso...
(The entire section is 798 words.)
Torquato Tasso, long regarded as the last great poet of the Italian Renaissance, was born in Sorrento, Italy on March 11, 1544. His father, also an epic poet, had political problems and was forced to move frequently; Tasso's mother died mysteriously when he was just twelve years old. Tasso, like most other poets of his time, sought patrons from among the wealthy aristocrats and churchmen that littered the Italian landscape. Tasso started the poem that would become Gerusalemme Liberata when he was sixteen and continued working on the poem until 1593. Most critics agree that all three of his major poems, Rinaldo (1562), Gerusalemme Liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) (1581), and Gerusalemme Conquistata, are essentially the same poem with different foci that mirror Tasso's emotional state at the time of each publication.
Rinaldo is an epic romance dealing with a young man in the spring of life. At the time, Tasso was enjoying some poetic success and working for Luigi, the Cardinal d'Este. His courtly love poetry addressed to the Cardinal's sisters, Lucrezia and Leonora d'Este, won him considerable praise. According to his letters, this was the happiest time of his life.
Heavily influenced by Ludovico Ariosto' s Orlando Furioso and Matteomaria Bioardo's Orlando Innamorato, Tasso set out to write an epic poem that joined the adventure, magic, and intrigue of those works with the heroic, moral, and...
(The entire section is 503 words.)