The World is a doubful referee, it admires and is silent
Giovan Battista Marino (1569-1625) is studied during high school. He was the master of Baroque poetry, but nobody talks about his restless life as a court poet, his escapes and prison breaks, the assassination attempt by his literary rival and the successes achieved at Maria de’ Medici’s court in Paris. Marino met Torquato Tasso and made friends with many painters (such as Caravaggio and Guido Reni) in his lifetime. He was such a deep connoisseur of the figurative arts that he even designed “a figurative book” in which the carvings of paintings and statues were matched by verses, establishing a close and innovative bond between image and word. In particular, Marino imagined a kind of competition between words and figures in a sonnet dedicated to Gerusalemme Liberata, illustrated by the Genoese Bernardo Castello, in 1590. And he considered, eventually:
It is not possible to discern which one is more lively which one can express, imprint illustrious and beautiful forms, or silent painting, or talkative. Intent on these wonders and those doubtful arbiter the world admires and is silent.
These rhymes appear to me to be very accurate and sharp in defining the connection that should be created between illustration and story. Watch out: I mean the story, not merely the text. A story that can be “silent” but, because of this, particularly chatty and filled up with echoes, suggestions, whispers, suspensions, little pleasures and discoveries. Being understood that – quoting Marino again:
which of them loses, or which one wins the most, the double-sided judgment hangs uncertainly.
And here is the beauty of the picture book.
– Walter Fochesato