This is a full-length study of the use of the dialogue form in Italy from the early sixteenth century until Galileo. Drawing on a wide range of sources, it examines the characteristics which determined the genre's unrivalled popularity in the period as a vehicle for polemic, debate, technical exposition and comic drama. More than simply an account of the development of an individual literary genre, however, the book is a contribution to the broader social and cultural history of the period. As representations of conversation, miniature dramas of persuasion, the dialogues of the Italian Renaissance constitute an extraordinarily rich - and largely untapped - source of information about the ideals and practice of communication in the early modern age.
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