Venetian literature is the corpus of literature in Venetian, the vernacular language of the region roughly corresponding to Venice, from the 12th century. Venetian literature, after an initial period of splendour in the sixteenth century with the success of artists such as Ruzante, reached its zenith in the eighteenth century, thanks to its greatest exponent, dramatist Carlo Goldoni. Subsequently, the literary production in Venetian underwent a period of decline following the collapse of the Republic of Venice, but survived nonetheless into the twentieth century to reach peaks with wonderful lyrical poets such as Biagio Marin of Grado.
The first evidence of the birth of vernacular Venetian (and Italian) is the Veronese Riddle, dating between the end of the eighth and the early ninth century, written in a language halfway between Latin and the vernacular.
Also dating to the twelfth century are the verses of the love song Quando eu stava in le tu' cathene.
In the thirteenth century we witness in the Venetian an explosion of compositions designed to meet the literary tastes of the emerging urban classes. Especially remarkable is the production of the Veronese School, with Giacomino da Verona, author of the poem in two parts, De Gerusalem Celesti ("On the Heavenly Jerusalem") and De Babilonia Civitate Infernali ("On Babylon, the Infernal City"). Published anonymously from this era are Lamento della Sposa Padovana or Bona çilosia
Throughout the 14th century, the centre of literary production Venetian continued to be Padua. At the end of the 14th century, Count Carraresi commissioned Bibbia Istoriata Padovana and Liber agregà of Serapion also called "Erbario Carrarese" (held at the British Library, London), a translation from the Latin Carrara Herbarium, a treatise of medicine originally in Arabic. An important writer from this period is Francesco di Vannozzo (~1330-1389).
Original works of the fourteenth century include those that go together under the name of Franco-Venetian literature characterized by a unique mix of vulgar Venetian with medieval French. Among the best known works are the anonymously authored lEntrée d'Espagne and its continuation, La prise de Pampelune by Niccolò da Verona.
The language enjoyed substantial prestige in the days of the Venetian Republic, when it attained the status of a lingua franca in the Mediterranean. Notable Venetian-language authors are the playwrights Ruzante (1502–1542) and Carlo Goldoni (1707–1793). Both Ruzante and Goldoni, following the old Italian theater tradition (Commedia dell'Arte), used Venetian in their comedies as the speech of the common folk. They are ranked among the foremost Italian theatrical authors of all time, and Goldoni's plays are still performed today. Other notable works in Venetian are the translations of the Iliad by Casanova (1725–1798) and Francesco Boaretti, and the poems of Biagio Marin (1891–1985).
Nowadays Venetian is still vigorous even in Brazil, where it is called Talian. This Venetian language version, spoken by hundreds of thousands of emigrants from Veneto living in Brasil, is written by dozens of writers, especially in Rio Grando and Santa Cattarina.
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- Elettra Bedon. Il filo di Arianna. Letteratura contemporanea in lingua veneta. Longo Editore, 1999. ISBN 978-88-8063-195-8
- Bruno Rosada. I secoli della letteratura veneta. Complementi dell'Offerta Formativa, a cura della Regione Veneto e della Provincia di Venezia. Arti Grafiche Venete, Venezia, 2002.