Giambattista Basile

Giambattista Basile

Giambattista Basile (1566 – 23 February 1632) was an Italian poet, courtier, and fairy tale collector.


Born in Giugliano to a Neapolitan middle-class family, Basile was a courtier and soldier to various Italian princes, including the doge of Venice. According to Benedetto Croce he was born in 1575, while other sources have February 1566. 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 Torrone.

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.[1] Many of these fairy tales are the oldest known variants in existence.[2] They include the earliest known versions of Rapunzel and Cinderella.[3]

Giambattista Basile spent much time in the courts of the nobles of the kingdom of Naples; tales of Pentamerone are set in the woods and castles of the Basilicata, in particular the city of Acerenza.

In popular culture

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

See also

Giovanni Francesco Straparola


  1. Croce 2001, pp. 888–889.
  2. Swann Jones 1995, p. 38.
  3. See Ruth Bottigheimer: Fairy tales, old wives and printing presses. History Today, 31 December 2003. Retrieved 3 March 2011. Subscription required.
  • Croce, Benedetto (2001). "The Fantastic Accomplishment of Giambattista Basile and His Tale of Tales". In Zipes, Jack. The Great Fairy Tale Tradition: From Straparola and Basile to the Brothers Grimm. New York: W W Norton. ISBN 0-393-97636-X. 
  • Swann Jones, Steven (1995). The Fairy Tale: The Magic Mirror of Imagination. New York: Twayne. ISBN 0-8057-0950-9. 

External links and resources

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