Short summary - L'Augellino Bel Verde or The Green Bird - Carlo Gozzi

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - L'Augellino Bel Verde or The Green Bird
Carlo Gozzi

Many years have passed since the well-known events that accompanied the marriage of Tartaglia to Ninetta, the daughter of the King of Antipodes, who appeared from an orange. A lot has happened in Monterotondo over the years. Smeraldina and Brighella, once burned, were resurrected from the ashes: he became a poet and soothsayer, she turned white in body and soul. Truffaldino married Smeraldina, who stole so much from the royal kitchen that he was able to leave the service and open a sausage shop.

King Tartaglia has not shown up in the capital for almost nineteen years, fighting with the rebels somewhere on the outskirts of the kingdom. In his absence, everything was run by his mother, the aged Queen of Tartaglion. The old woman did not like Ninetta, and when she gave birth to Tartaglia's lovely twins, a boy and a girl, she ordered them to be killed, and she wrote to the king that, they say, his wife had brought a couple of puppies. In his hearts, Tartaglia allowed Tartaglion to punish his wife at his own discretion, and the old queen buried the poor thing alive in a crypt under a sewer hole.

Fortunately, Pantalone did not follow Tartagliona's orders: he did not slaughter the babies, but wrapped them securely in oilcloth and threw them into the river. Smeraldina pulled the twins out of the river. She gave them the names Renzo and Barbarina and raised them as her own children.

Extra eaters in the house were an eyesore to the greedy and grumpy Truffaldino, and then one fine day he decides to expel the foundlings.

The news that they are not their own children and now must go away, Renzo and Barbarina perceive in cold blood, because their spirit is strengthened by reading modern philosophers, who explain love, human affection and good deeds with low selfishness. Free, as they believe, from selfishness, the twins go into the wilderness, where they will not be annoyed by stupid and annoying people.

On a deserted shore, a talking antique statue appears to a brother and sister. This is the king of sculptures Kalmon, who was once a philosopher and turned to stone at the moment when he finally managed to get rid of the last remnants of self-love in his soul. Calmon tries to convince Renzo and Barbarina that selfishness is by no means shameful, that one should love the imprinted image of the Creator in oneself and in others.

Young people do not heed the words of a wise statue. Calmont, however, tells them to go to the city and throw a stone at the walls of the palace - this will instantly make them rich. He promises the twins help in the future and also informs that the secret of their birth will be revealed thanks to the Green Bird, who is in love with Barbarina.

This bird has been flying to Ninetta's crypt for eighteen years already, feeding and watering her. Arriving this time, she predicts the imminent end of the queen's suffering, says that her children are alive, and the bird itself is not a bird at all, but an enchanted prince.

Finally, King Tartaglia returns from the war. But nothing is sweet to him without the innocently ruined Ninetta. He cannot forgive her death either to himself or to his mother. There is a noisy quarrel between the old queen and Tartaglia.

Tartagliona is inspired by her not so much by her self-righteousness and resentment towards her ungrateful son, but by the prophecies and flattering speeches of Brighella. Brighella uses every occasion to vent about their - himself and Tartaglion - a brilliant future on the Monterotondian throne; at the same time, the cunning one praises to the skies the long-faded charms of the old woman, to whom the heart of the poor poet allegedly belongs undividedly. Tartagliona is ready for anything: to join fate with Brighella, and get rid of her son, only now she considers a will in favor of her betrothed to be inappropriate, since she will have to bloom and shine for many more years.

Renzo and Barbarina, following the advice of Calmon, come to the royal palace, but at the last moment they are overcome by doubt: is wealth proper to philosophers? After conferring, they nevertheless throw a stone, and a magnificent palace grows before their eyes.

Renzo and Barbarina live rich in a wonderful palace, and now they are by no means philosophical reflections. Barbarina is sure that she is the most beautiful in the world, and in order to make her beauty shine even brighter, she spends money without counting on the most exquisite outfits and jewelry. Renzo is in love; but in love not with any woman, but with a statue. This statue is not the creation of a sculptor, but a girl named Pompey, who many years ago was turned to stone by her own boundless vanity. Beside himself with passion, he swears not to regret anything, if only Pompey comes to life.

Driven by love for her adopted daughter, Smeraldina appears in the twins' palace. Barbarina, for whom love is an empty phrase, first drives her away, then tries to pay off with a purse of gold, but in the end allows her to remain a servant in her person. Truffaldino also wants to live in the palace of foundlings, but love has nothing to do with it: he wants to eat deliciously, drink plenty and sleep softly, while things in the sausage shop are going very badly. Not immediately, but Renzo agrees to take the former dad into his service.

The inhabitants of the royal palace are surprised by the new neighborhood. Brighella - and he is, after all, a soothsayer - sees in Renzo and Barbarina a threat to his ambitious plans and therefore teaches Tartaglion how to destroy the twins. The king, having gone out onto the balcony and seeing the beautiful Barbarina in the window opposite, falls madly in love with her. He is already ready to forget the unfortunate Ninetta and marry again, but, alas, Barbarina is not touched by the signs of the highest attention. Here Tartagliona seizes the moment and tells her that Barbarina will become the most beautiful in the world only when she has a singing Apple and Golden Water that sounds and dances. As you know, both of these miracles are kept in the garden of the fairy Serpentina, where many brave men laid down their lives.

Barbarina, who quickly got used to having all her desires instantly fulfilled, at first demands, and then tearfully begs to bring her an Apple and Water. Renzo heeds her pleas and, accompanied by Truffaldino, sets off.

In the garden of the Serpentina, the heroes almost die, but Renzo remembers Calmon in time and calls him for help. Calmon, in turn, summons a statue with nipples exuding water, and several hefty statues. From its nipples, the statue waters the thirsty guardian beasts, and they allow Renzo to pluck the Apple. Weighty statues, leaning on the gate leading to the source of the Serpentina, do not allow them to slam shut; Truffaldino, not without trepidation, goes and picks up a flask of sounding and dancing Water.

When the deed is done, Calmon informs Renzo that the secret of the revival of the statue he loves, as well as the secret of the origin of the twins, is in the hands of the Green Bird. Finally, the king of sculptures asks Renzo to order him to fix his nose, which was once damaged by the boys.

Returning home, Renzo learns that the king asked Barbarina to become his wife, and she agreed, but then, at the instigation of Brighella and Tartagliona, she demanded the Green Bird as a dowry. Renzo would like to see his sister as a queen, and besides, he is overcome by a passionate desire to revive Pompeii and reveal the secret of his origin. Therefore, he takes Truffaldino and sets off on a new, even more dangerous journey - to the Cannibal Hill for the Green Bird.

On the way, the already familiar Truffaldino devil with furs blows on the back of the brave travelers, so they get to the place very soon. But there they find themselves in some confusion: how to overcome the spell of the Cannibal is unknown, and the only one who could help - Calmon - Renzo cannot call, since he did not fulfill the trifling request of the king of statues: he did not correct his nose. Having made up their mind, the master and the servant approach the tree on which the bird sits, and immediately both turn to stone. Meanwhile, Barbarina, whose hardened heart still woke up anxiety for her brother, in the company of Smeraldina also goes to the Ogre's domain and finds Renzo and Truffaldino turned into statues. This sad sight makes her repent in tears of excessive arrogance and slavish self-indulgence. As soon as the words of repentance are uttered, Kalmon appears before Barbarina and Smeraldina. He reveals a way to take possession of the Green Bird, while warning that the slightest mistake will lead to certain death. Barbarina, driven by her love for her brother, overcomes her fear and, having done everything as Kalmon said, takes Birdie. Then, taking a feather out of her tail, he touches the petrified Renzo and Truffaldino with it, and they come to life.

Tartaglia burns with impatience, wanting to call Barbarina his wife. It would seem that now nothing prevents it. After all, Renzo does not interfere with being combined with Pompeii, animated by a bird's feather, even the fact that she was a statue in the recent past. However, first of all, Barbarina insists, one should listen to what Water, Apple and Green Bird have to say.

The magical objects and the Bird tell the whole story of the atrocities of Tartaglion and her henchman Brighella. The king, who found children and miraculously avoided an incestuous marriage, is literally overjoyed. When Ninetta comes into the light of God from the fetid crypt, he completely loses his senses.

The green bird utters a spell, and Tartaglion and Brighella, in front of everyone, to the general joy, turn into dumb creatures: the old woman - into a turtle, and her lover pretender - into a donkey. Then the bird sheds its feathers and becomes a young man, the king of Terradombra. He calls Barbarina his wife, and calls on all those present on stage and in the hall to be true philosophers, that is, realizing their own mistakes, to become better.