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In Francesco Scipione Maffei Maffei, Francesco Scipione, Marchese di , an antiquary of Verona, produced Merope —a tragedy that met with great success and pointed the way toward reform of the Italian tragic theatre. Between and Antonio Conti—an admirer of Shakespeare—wrote four Roman tragedies in blank verse. It was not until and the success of his Cleopatra , however, that an important Italian tragedian finally emerged in the person of Vittorio Alfieri Alfieri, Vittorio, Conte. In strong contrast with Metastasio's and Paolo Rolli's melodrammi —librettos set to music or sometimes performed as plays in their own right—Alfieri's tragedies are harsh, bitter, and unmelodious.

He chose classical and biblical themes, and through his hatred of tyranny and love of liberty he aspired to move his audience with magnanimous sentiments and patriotic fervour. He is at his most profound in Saul and Mirra Alfieri's influence in the Romantic period and the Risorgimento was immense, and, like Carlo Goldoni Goldoni, Carlo , he wrote an important autobiography, which gives a revealing account of his struggles to provide Italy with a corpus of drama comparable to that of the other European nations.

Metastasio's reform of the operatic libretto was paralleled in the midth century by Goldoni's reform of comedy. The dialogue was mostly improvised, and the plot—a complicated series of stage directions, known as the scenario—dealt mainly with forced marriages, star-crossed lovers, and the intrigues of servants and masters. Goldoni succeeded in replacing this traditional type of theatre with written works whose wit and vigour are especially evident when the Venetian scene is portrayed in a refined form of the local dialect. Perhaps because of his prolific output his work has sometimes been thought of as lacking in depth.

His social observation is acute, however, and his characters are beautifully drawn. Mirandolina , with its heroine Mirandolina, a protofeminist, has things to say about class and the position of women that can still be appreciated today. Goldoni's rival and bitter controversialist, fellow Venetian Carlo Gozzi Gozzi, Carlo, Conte the reactionary brother of the more liberal journalist Gasparo , also wrote comedies, satirical verse, and an important autobiography.

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Muratori collected the primary sources for the study of the Italian Middle Ages; Vico, in his Scienza nuova —44; The New Science , investigated the laws governing the progress of the human race and from the psychological study of man endeavoured to infer the laws by which civilizations rise, flourish , and fall. Giovanni Maria Mazzuchelli and Gerolamo Tiraboschi devoted themselves to literary history. Literary criticism also attracted attention; Gian Vincenzo Gravina, Vico, Maffei, Muratori, and several others, while advocating the imitation of the classics, realized that such imitation should be cautious and thus anticipated critical standpoints that were later to come into favour.

The Enlightenment Enlightenment Illuminismo. With the end of Spanish domination and the spread of the ideas of the Enlightenment from France, political reforms were gradually introduced in various parts of Italy. The new spirit of the times led men—mainly of the upper middle class—to enquire into the mechanics of economic and social laws. More than anyone else, Giuseppe Parini Parini, Giuseppe seems to embody the literary revival of the 18th century.


Literary trends of the 19th century. The 19th century was a period of political ferment leading to Italian unification, and many outstanding writers were involved in public affairs. Much of the literature written with a political aim, even when not of intrinsic value, became part of Italy's national heritage and inspired not only those for whom it was written but all who valued freedom. Foremost among writers in the early struggles for his country's unity and freedom from foreign domination was Ugo Foscolo Foscolo, Ugo , who reconciled passionate feeling with a formal perfection inspired by classical models.

His Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis ; The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis was an epistolary story, reminiscent of Goethe's Werther , of a young man forced to suicide by frustrated love for both a woman and his fatherland. This poem influenced the Italian Risorgimento, or national revival, and a passage in which Florence was praised because it preserved in the church of Santa Croce the ashes of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Galileo is still very popular in Italy. As an exile in England from until his death in , he wrote remarkable critical essays on Italian literature for English readers.

In Foscolo patriotism and classicism united to form a single fixed passion, but the eclectic Vincenzo Monti Monti, Vincenzo was outstanding for mobility of feeling. The trend was toward pedantic classicism as a reaction against an excessive Gallicism favoured by some 18th-century writers. Among the purists was Antonio Cesari, who brought out a new enlarged edition of the Vocabolario della Crusca the first Italian dictionary, published by the Accademia della Crusca Crusca Academy in But a Lombard school opposed this Tuscan supremacy.

By contrast, the patriot Pietro Giordani—for a time a journalistic colleague of Monti—was a great exponent of purismo. His views did not stem from literary pedantry, however, but from a concern that all social groups throughout Italy should have a common means of communication.

The Living Machiavelli in Modern Mythologies

In this respect he was linguistically opposed to the great Romantic poet Carlo Porta, who lampooned the aristocracy and clergy and expressed sympathy with the humble and wretched in narrative poems composed not in Italian but in a lively Milanese dialect. All Italy took part in the disputes about language, literature, and politics.

An artificial form of classicism was associated with the Napoleonic Napoleon I domination of Italy, so that when Napoleon fell, forces antagonistic to classicism arose. Literary Romanticism had already won favour with the French, who erroneously thought themselves akin to the German Romantics. Their efforts were silenced in when several of them were arrested by the Austrian police because of their liberal opinions; among them was Pellico, who later wrote a famous account of his experiences, Le mie prigioni ; My Prisons.

Alessandro Manzoni Manzoni, Alessandro grandson of reformer Cesare Beccaria Beccaria, Cesare was the chief exponent of Italian Romanticism, but perhaps an even higher claim to fame was his contribution to the resolution of the language problem. In he started working on a panoramic novel about the lives of simple people placed against a background of major historical events, and, in order that this should be accessible to a wide readership, he decided to write it in an idiom as close as possible to modern educated Florentine speech.

This was a formidable enterprise for someone whose first languages were French and Milanese dialect—and to whom spoken Florentine was virtually a foreign tongue—and for the first draft completed in he had to resort to Francesco Cherubini's Italian-Milanese dictionary. The second draft was published in —27 under the title I promessi sposi The Betrothed ; and the final definitive edition came out in —42 after a long, painstaking process of revision aimed at making the text conform more closely with colloquial Florentine usage.

The result of this effort was clear, expressive prose—neither pretentious nor provincial—and the way in which the novel caught the public's imagination attested to Manzoni's success in addressing the sort of people to whom conventional literary Italian was almost as remote as Latin. The foremost Italian poet of the age was Giacomo Leopardi Leopardi, Giacomo , an outstanding scholar and thinker whose philological works together with his philosophical writings, Operette morali , would alone place him among the great writers of the 19th century.

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Embittered by solitude, sickness, and near penury, he realized from age 20 the vanity of hope. Though he developed a doctrine of universal pessimism, seeing life as evil and death as the only comfort, the poetry based on these bitter, despairing premises was far from depressing.

The Poems of Leopardi , first published in Some were patriotic and were once very popular; but the most memorable came from deeper lyrical inspiration. They balance depth of meaning and formal beauty, simplicity of diction, intensity, and verbal music. The Risorgimento and after.

Circumstances made it inevitable that Italian Romanticism should become heavily involved with the patriotic myths of the Risorgimento; yet, while this served a useful civic purpose at the time, it did not encourage literature of consistent artistic merit or enduring readability. D'Azeglio's historical novels and those of Francesco Guerrazzi now have a rather limited interest; and Mazzini's didactic writings—of great merit in their good intentions—are generally regarded as unduly oratorical.

The bitterness of some of his poetry revealed frustration and rebelliousness. Rime nuove The New Lyrics and Odi barbare The Barbarian Odes , both of which appeared in the s, contained the best of his poetry: memories of childhood, evocations of landscape, laments for domestic sorrows, an inspired representation of historical events, an ambitious effort to resuscitate the glory of Roman history, and an anachronistic but sincere cult of pagan civilization.

He tried to adapt Latin prosody to Italian verse, which sometimes produced good poems, but his opposition to Romanticism and his rhetorical tirades provoked a strong reaction, and his metrical reform was short-lived. He was also a scholarly historian of literature, and his literary essays had permanent value, although philosophical criticism such as that of Francesco De Sanctis De Sanctis, Francesco was uncongenial to him.

Both his poetry and his criticism were cited when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for De Sanctis himself was connected politically with the Risorgimento, but he is remembered chiefly for his critical writings. His most important works were various critical essays and Storia della letteratura italiana —71; History of Italian Literature. De Sanctis was not properly appreciated in his day but came into his own at the turn of the century when Benedetto Croce Croce, Benedetto rescued his works from oblivion.

While Carducci was still alive, Giovanni Pascoli Pascoli, Giovanni acquired a reputation and succeeded him in the chair of Italian literature at the University of Bologna. Later he produced—both in humanistic Latin and in self-consciously elaborate Italian—heroic hymns in honour of two sacred cities, Rome and Turin. The veristi and other narrative writers.

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The patriotic niceties and sentimental Romanticism of much Risorgimento writing inevitably provoked a reaction. Unfortunately the movement—perhaps by its very nature—lacked intellectual cohesion and tended to cultivate the eccentric as an end in itself. The scapigliati , however, made a useful contribution in social criticism and in their informal linguistic approach. Among the foremost scapigliati were Giuseppe Rovani, whose monumental novel about Milanese life, I cento anni The Hundred Years , was issued in installments —58 and —65 ; Emilio Praga, a poet tormented by contradictions; and Arrigo Boito Boito, Arrigo , poet , musician , and librettist for Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff and Otello.

The veristi were not concerned with sermons or noble sentiments but with observable phenomena. When they dealt with the Italy of the Risorgimento, they showed it warts and all. The greatest of verismo narrators was without a doubt Giovanni Verga Verga, Giovanni , who explained in a preamble to a short story, "L'amante di Gramigna" ; Eng. The House by the Medlar Tree and Mastro-don Gesualdo , the reader often has the sensation of being put down in an unfamiliar milieu and—as would happen in real life—left to pick up the threads from gossip and chance remarks.

Who was Niccolò Machiavelli?

In their search for documentary exactitude the veristi paid close attention to regional background. Matilde Serao Serao, Matilde , on the other hand, has given a detailed and colourful reportage of the Neapolitan scene, while Renato Fucini conveyed the atmosphere of traditional Tuscany. Emilio De Marchi, another writer in the realist mold, has Milan for his setting and in Demetrio Pianelli has painted a candid but essentially kindly portrait of the new Milanese urban middle class.

Antonio Fogazzaro Fogazzaro, Antonio was akin to the veristi in his powers of observation and in his descriptions of minor characters; but he was strongly influenced by Manzoni, and his best narrative work, Piccolo mondo antico ; The Little World of the Past , is a nostalgic look back to a supposedly less individualistic age when inner tranquillity was seemingly achieved by devotion to a shared ideal.

Tozzi, however, belongs psychologically and stylistically to the 20th century. Giovanni Carsaniga Anthony Oldcorn.

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After unification the new Italy was preoccupied with practical problems, and by the early 20th century a great deal of reasonably successful effort had been directed toward raising living standards, promoting social harmony, and healing the split between church and state. It was in this prosaic and pragmatic atmosphere that the middle classes—bored with the unheroic and positivist spirit of former decades—began to feel the need for a new myth.

At a distance from those times, it should be possible to evaluate D'Annunzio more clearly.