Giambattista Basile

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Giambattista Basile
Giambattista Basile by Nicolaus Perrey.jpg
Born(1583-02-04)February 4, 1583
Naples, Kingdom of Naples (present-day Italy)
Died23 February 1632(1632-02-23) (aged 66)
Giugliano in Campania, Kingdom of Naples (present-day Italy)
Pen nameGian Alesio Abbatutis
OccupationPoet, writer, courtier
LanguageItalian, Neapolitan
Notable worksLo Cunto de li Cunti

Giambattista Basile (Naples, 4 February 1583 (date of baptism)[1] – February 1632) was an Italian poet, courtier, and fairy tale collector. His collections include the oldest recorded forms of many well-known (and more obscure) European fairy tales.[2] He is chiefly remembered for writing the collection of Neapolitan fairy tales known as Il Pentamerone.


Born in Naples into a middle-class family, Basile was a soldier and courtier to various Italian princes, including the doge of Venice. In Venice he began to write poetry. Later he returned to Naples to serve as a courtier under the patronage of Don Marino II Caracciolo, prince of Avellino, to whom he dedicated his idyll L’Aretusa (1618). By the time of his death he had reached the rank of "Count" Conte di Torone.[3]

Basile's earliest known literary production is from 1604 in the form of a preface to the Vaiasseide of his friend the Neapolitan writer Giulio Cesare Cortese. The following year his villanella Smorza crudel amore was set to music and in 1608 he published his poem Il Pianto della Vergine.

He is chiefly remembered for writing the collection of Neapolitan fairy tales titled Lo cunto de li cunti overo lo trattenemiento de peccerille (Neapolitan for "The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones"), also known as Il Pentamerone published posthumously in two volumes by his sister Adriana in Naples, Italy in 1634 and 1636 under the pseudonym Gian Alesio Abbatutis. It later became known as the Pentamerone. Although neglected for some time, the work received a great deal of attention after the Brothers Grimm praised it highly as the first national collection of fairy tales.[4] Many of these fairy tales are the oldest known variants in existence.[5] They include the earliest known European versions of Rapunzel and Cinderella with the Chinese version of Cinderella dating from 850–60 AD.[6] Tales of Pentamerone are set in the woods and castles of the Basilicata, in particular the city of Acerenza.

In popular culture[edit]

The 2015 film Tale of Tales is a screen adaptation loosely based on his fairy tale collection.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Vincenzo Palmisciano, «Novità per il profilo biografico di Andreana, Giovan Battista Basile e Giulio De Grazia», in Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane, CXL dell'intera collezione, 2022, pp. 161–166.
  2. ^ Steven Swann Jones, The Fairy Tale: The Magic Mirror of Imagination, Twayne Publishers, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-8057-0950-9, p38
  3. ^ Ockerbloom, John Mark (ed.). "Online Books by Giovanni Battista BASILE (BASILE, Giovanni Battista, Count di Torone)". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  4. ^ Croce 2001, pp. 888–889.
  5. ^ Swann Jones 1995, p. 38.
  6. ^ See Ruth Bottigheimer: Fairy tales, old wives and printing presses. History Today, 31 December 2003. Retrieved 3 March 2011. Subscription required.


External links and resources[edit]