A desperate plea for help. Beginning in about 1575, Tasso became the victim of a mental disorder which, without rendering him completely insane, made him fantastical, irrational and utterly insupportable. After a number of highly dramatic public outbursts, Tasso was sent to Sant'Anna, an asylum for the mentally deranged. Tassos's letter to Rondinelli records his discontent with excruciating detail. He first recounts his arrival at Ferrara for the wedding of Marguerita Gonzaga to the Duke of Ferrara (Alphonse d'Este) two years earlier at the request of Monsignor Albano. Tasso asserts he had not received the favors he had been led to expect upon his arrival to Ferrara. He complains of his "ill-treatment" by the Duke of Ferrara and blames him for his imprisonment at Sant'Anna. Tasso begs his correspondent to ask the Duchess of Nemours, "a truly heroic woman, and of the greatest mind and spirit," for a position in her household. Tasso believed the influence of the Duchess could override any objections regarding his release. Despite Tasso's plea, he was not released from Sant'Anna until 1586, when Marguerita Gonzaga's brother, Vincenzo, summoned him to Mantua.
Written in the year of the publication of his Gerusalemme Liberata, the present letter is of great importance for its revelation of the mental illness of one of the great figures of sixteenth century Italian literature.
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