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«Tra un passato soverchiante e un presente inesplorato». Aspetti della cultura mantovana nella seconda metà del Settecento

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Autore Maurizio Bertolotti
Collana Studi e Saggi
N. 2
Dimensioni 17×24 cm, pp. XVIII+259
Anno 2017
ISBN 9788870969115

With the devolution of the duchy in 1708 a new cultural season begins for Mantua. As elsewhere, but in a particularly original manner here, we witness what Franco Venturi describes as the «slow and difficult dissolution of a small part of the Ancien Régime», while a «new consciousness both provincial and European» gradually appears.
The commitment with the past manifests itself primarily in the local aristocracy defending its power over local society and therefore the autonomy of the duchy. Resistance becomes fiercer when, under Maria Theresa and Joseph ii, reforms and innovations of the Habsburg rulers becomes more incisive.
While Vienna’s contribution to the regeneration of culture, economy and society was undoubtedly crucial, it interacted with a desire to travel unexplored paths. An example of this is the Reale Accademia as the main promoter of the new course: although its founding in 1768 was greatly wished for and encouraged by the sovereigns, forward-looking members of local cultural life did not remain extraneous to the initiative. And while the disposition, that was to characterize the academy, mirrors the expectations of the government, it also reflects a remarkable dissemination of the ideas of the Enlightenment among the intellectuals of Mantua.
The study dwells on Bettinelli and d’Arco not only because they interpret better than others, each in his own way , examples of changing times, but because the ambiguities and contradictions that characterize their work can be seen as important signs of the resistance to change. In general terms they describe a conflict that involves society as well as culture, with some of its most significant consequences apparent in terms of identity. While the unprogressiveness of the conservative nobility is reflected in a more or less instrumental nostalgia of the old principles, the will to be freed from the unwelcome burden of a recent past leads the forces of change to turn again, with the revival of the cult of Virgil, to a more distant past.