Antonio Pistoia : the poetic world of a customs collector
The object of the present study is Antonio Pistoia (1436? - 1502), a jocular poet and customs collector who worked mainly in Northern Italy. Although his reputation as a notable literary figure has suffered from neglect in recent times, his work was appreciated by and known to his contemporaries including Pietro Aretino, Ludovico Ariosto, Matteo Bandello, Francesco Berni and Baldesar Castiglione. Research on his life and work came to a halt at the beginning of this century and since then he has failed to attract significant attention. The present study attempts to review and re-examine both the man and his work with a view to putting Antonio Pistoia back on the literary map. My thesis is based on the idea that a poet can be explored from various points of view and with different methodologies tailored to the objects under investigation. In the case of Pistoia a biographical history alone or an interpretation of his work alone would provide only partial results. By combining the two I have attempted to see how he and his work fitted within the cultural scene, the social and historical setting of Renaissance Italy in a period of political and military crisis. Based on archive work and on new textual material retrieved from a number of European libraries, this study challenges and tests widely held theories concerning both his biography and his literary production. By collecting fresh references and winnowing old ones, it throws new light on a series of specific issues from matters of identification relating to the poet's life, the critical fortune of his collection of sonnets, his play Panfila and other minor works, and to problems of uncertain authorship, including poems of undisputed, doubtful and arbitrary attribution; the final section is devoted to his Canzoniere, its composition and the tradition to which it belongs and a thematic and stylistic overview of his poems. A codicological analysis of the allegedly autograph manuscript and a listing of Pistoia's archival documents, manuscripts and early printed sources, completely assembled for the first time and comprehensive of additional new findings, conclude the study.