Short summary - The Antiquarian's Family - Carlo Goldoni

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - The Antiquarian's Family
Carlo Goldoni

The affairs of Count Anselmo Terraziani were more or less improved when, disregarding class pride, he married his only son, Giacinto, to Doradice, the daughter of the wealthy Venetian merchant Pantalone dei Bisognosi, who gave her twenty thousand crowns of dowry. This amount could have formed the basis of the well-being of the count's house, if Anselmo had not squandered the lion's share of it on his favorite pastime - collecting antiquities; he became literally insane at the sight of Roman medals, fossils and other things of that kind. At the same time, Ansedo did not understand anything about the antiquities dear to his heart, which all sorts of rogues used, selling him for big money all sorts of rubbish that no one needed.

With his head immersed in his studies, Anselmo only brushed off the annoying problems of everyday life, and there were enough of them. In addition to the constant lack of money, which spoiled the blood of all households day by day, it so happened that from the very beginning, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law fiercely disliked each other. Countess Isabella could not come to terms with the fact that her noble offspring, for the sake of a miserable twenty thousand, married a commoner, a merchant; however, when it came to ransoming her jewelry from the pledge, the countess did not disdain to use the merchant's money.

Doraliche, for her part, was indignant that out of all the dowry, not a meager amount had been spent on her, so that now she had nothing even to go out of the house with - she could not show herself to people in a dress, like a maid. She asked her husband, the young Count Giacinto, in vain to somehow influence her father-in-law with her mother-in-law - he loved her very much, but was too gentle and respectful to be able to impose his will on his parents. Giacinto timidly tried to reconcile his wife with his mother, but without any success.

The Countess Doraliche countered the mad, imperious disposition with a murderous icy composure, her mother-in-law constantly poked her daughter-in-law in the eyes with her nobility, and she poked her with her dowry. The enmity between Isabella and Doradice was also fueled by the maid Colombina. She was angry with the young mistress for the slap she received from her, refusing to call her a signora - they say they are equal, both from the merchant class, and it doesn’t matter that her father was a peddler, and her father Doraliche was in a shop. For gossip about her daughter-in-law Colombina, gifts from the countess sometimes fell, and in order to be generous to Isabella, she herself often invented nasty things about her, allegedly said by Doraliche.

The Chichisbey Countess also added fuel to the fire - gentlemen who, out of pure devotion, render services to a married lady. One of them, an old doctor, stoically endured Isabella's whims and indulged her in absolutely everything, including anger at her daughter-in-law. The second, Cavalier del Bosco, however, soon made a bet on the younger and more attractive Doradice and went over to her.

Brigella, blown away by Anselmo, quickly realized that the owner's whim could make a lot of money. He dressed up his friend and compatriot Harlequin as an Armenian, and together they handed the count an object that they had given out as an inextinguishable lamp from a tomb in an Egyptian pyramid. The venerable Pantalone instantly recognized it as an ordinary kitchen lamp, but the collector flatly refused to believe him.

Pantalone's heart was bleeding - he was ready to do everything so that his beloved only daughter would live well in a new family. He begged Doradice to be gentler, kinder with his mother-in-law, and in order to at least temporarily stop skirmishes over money, he gave her a purse with fifty skudos. As a result of common diplomatic efforts, it seemed that a truce was reached between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law, and the latter even agreed to be the first to greet Isabella, but even here she remained true to herself: bowing to her, she explained this gesture of goodwill by the duty of the young girl in relation to the old woman.

Having acquired money, Doraliche decided to acquire an ally in the person of Colombina, which was not difficult - it was worth offering her to pay twice the salary that she received from Countess Isabella. Colombina immediately began to throw mud at the old signora with pleasure, while, however, not wanting to miss out on additional income, she continued to talk nasty things about Doralich to Isabella. Cavalier del Bosco, though free of charge, but also warmly offered his services to Doraliche and shamelessly flattered her that the girl was not so much useful as simply pleasant.

Brigella, meanwhile, got a taste and decided to cheat Anselmo on a grand scale: he told the owner that the famous antiquarian Captain Sarakka had gone bankrupt, who was therefore forced to sell the collection collected over twenty years for nothing. Brighella promised Anselmo to get it for some three thousand crowns, and he enthusiastically gave the servant a deposit and sent it to the seller.

During the entire conversation with Brighella, Anselmo reverently held in his hands a priceless tome - a book of peace treaties between Athens and Sparta, written by Demosthenes himself. Pantalone, who happened right there, unlike the count, knew Greek and tried to explain to him that this is just a collection of songs that young people sing in Corfu, but his explanations convinced the antiquarian only that Pantalone did not know Greek.

However, Pantalone did not come to the count for learned conversations, but in order to arrange family reconciliation with his participation - he had already persuaded both women to meet in the living room. Anselmo reluctantly agreed to attend, and then withdrew to his antiquities. When Pantalone was left alone, the case helped him expose the scammers who cheated the count: Harlequin decided, in order not to share with Brighella, to act at his own peril and risk and brought an old shoe for sale. Pantaloon, who called himself a friend of Anselmo and the same lover of antiquity, he tried to foist him under the guise of the same shoe with which Nero kicked Poppea, pushing her off the throne. Caught red-handed. Harlequin told all about the tricks of Brighella and promised to repeat his words in the presence of Anselmo.

Finally, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law managed to be brought together in one room, but both of them, as expected, appeared in the living room, accompanied by gentlemen. Without any malicious intent, but only out of stupidity and wanting to be pleasing to their ladies, the doctor and the cavalier del Bosco diligently egged on the women, who already incessantly released various barbs and rudeness at each other. None of them heeded the eloquence lavished by Pantalone and Giacinto, who undertook to help him.

Anselmo, as if he were not the father of the family, sat with an absent look, since he could only think about the assembly of Captain Sarakk floating into his hands. When Brigella finally returned, he recklessly rushed to look at the wealth he had brought, not waiting for the end of the family council. Pantalone couldn't take it anymore, spat and also left.

Count Anselmo was in utter delight, considering the goods worthy to adorn the collection of any monarch and got him for only three thousand. Pantalone, as always, set out to put an end to the count's antiquarian delights, but only this time Pancrazio, a recognized connoisseur of antiquities, in whom Anselmo completely trusted, appeared with him. This same Pancrazio opened his eyes to the true value of the newly acquired treasures: the shells found, according to Brighella, high in the mountains, turned out to be simple oyster shells thrown out by the sea; petrified fish - stones, which were lightly passed with a chisel, in order to fool the gullible; the collection of Adeppian mummies was nothing more than boxes with gutted and dried corpses of kittens and puppies. In short, Anselmo threw all his money down the drain. At first, he did not want to believe that Brighella was to blame for this, but Pantalone brought a witness - Arlecchino - and the count had no choice but to recognize the servant as a scoundrel and a swindler.

With the inspection of the collection was over, and Pantalone invited Anselmo to finally think about family matters. The count readily promised to contribute in every possible way to pacification, but to begin with it was absolutely necessary for him to borrow ten sequins from Pantalone. He gave, thinking that it was for the cause, while Anselmo needed this money to purchase genuine lifetime portraits of Petrarch and the Madonna Laura.

Cavaliers, meanwhile, made another attempt to reconcile the mother-in-law with the daughter-in-law - as one would expect, stupid and unsuccessful; Colombina, feeding on the enmity of two women, did everything to exclude the slightest possibility of reconciliation. Pantalone watched this lunatic asylum to its heart's content and decided it was time to take matters into his own hands. He went to Ansevento and offered to take on the role of manager of the count's property free of charge and improve his affairs. Anselmo immediately agreed, especially since after the fraud of Brighella, who fled with money from Palermo, he was on the verge of complete ruin. In order to get Pantalone as a manager, the count had to sign one paper, which he did without batting an eyelid.

Once again, having gathered together all the household members and friends of the house, Pantalone solemnly read out the document signed by Count Anselmo. Its essence boiled down to the following: henceforth, all the count's incomes come to the full disposal of Pantalone dei Bisognosi; Pantalone undertakes to supply all members of the Count's family equally with supplies and clothing; Anselmo is allocated a hundred skudos a year to replenish the collection of antiquities. The manager was also entrusted with the care of maintaining peace in the family, in the interests of which that signora, who wants to have a permanent gentleman for services, will have to settle in the village; the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law undertake to live on different floors of the house; Columbine retires.

Those present were pleased to note that Isabella and Doralice unanimously agreed with the last two points and even without a quarrel decided who should live on the first floor, who on the second. However, even for a ring with diamonds, offered to Pantalona by the one who first hugs and kisses the other, neither the mother-in-law nor the daughter-in-law agreed to give up their pride.

But in general, Pantaloon was pleased: his daughter was no longer threatened by poverty, and a bad world, in the end, is better than a good quarrel.