ALBRECHT DIETERICH’S PULCINELLA: SOME CONSIDERATIONS A CENTURY LATER*
This paper offers a critical discussion and reconsideration of Dieterich's famous, though controversial, book ‘Pulcinella' (1897).
In this book, written after an inspiring voyage to Greece and Italy, Dieterich attempts at demonstrating the link between ancient theatrical farces and the Italian ‘Commedia dell'Arte', without ever
neglecting an iconographic analysis of some Pompeian frescoes representing comic scenes. The book, however, was sharply criticized by his contemporaries (Wilamowitz and, somewhat later,
Croce) and its main thesis is still much debated. The present paper provides a scholarly reconstruction of the debate about the supposed continuity between early Roman comedy and Italian Renaissance theatre. At the same time, in the steps of Dieterich's penchant for the study of folkloric traditions, it deals with a religio-historical or anthropological interpretation of feasts like Carnival, stressing the trickster features implied in the mask of Pulcinella.