Vittorio Alfieri

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Alfieri, Vittorio


Born Jan. 16, 1749, in Asti; died Oct. 8, 1803, in Florence. Count; Italian poet.

Alfieri lived a stormy life, which he described (up to May 1803) in his autobiography, The Life of Vittorio Alfieri of Asti, Narrated by Himself (published in 1806; Russian translation, 1904). Alfieri was the creator of the Italian national classical tragedy, connected with Enlightenment ideology. Most important in the heritage which Alfieri has left are the tragedies written between 1775 and 1790. Alfieri himself classified them according to their themes as follows: “love” (Cleopatra, Philip, Rosamunda, Sophonisba, Octavia) “tragedies of freedom” (Virginia, The Pazzi Conspiracy, Timoleon, Agis, Brutus I, Brutus II); “tragedies about struggle for the throne” (Polynices, Agamemnon, Don Garcia, Mary Stuart); “tragedies of family feelings” (Orestes, Antigone, Merope, Alcestis); and “tragedies of inner struggle” (Myrrha, Saul). This classification is conditional; regardless of their plots, almost all the tragedies are filled with political content, affirm the idea of struggle against tyranny, and advocate patriotism. They influenced Italian tragedy of the end of the 18th century through the first quarter of the 19th century.

Alfieri also wrote six comedies in verse (1800–02), about 200 sonnets, the narrative poem Etruria Revenged, 16 satires, a collection of pamphlets entitled Misogallo (1799), many epigrams, and five odes, among them the revolutionary ones “Free America” and “The Capture of the Bastille”. He also translated works by several ancient authors.


Opere, vols. 1–22. Pisa, 1805–15.
In Russian translation:
Philip. Translated by N. Kurochkin. In Nevskii sbornik, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1867.


Glivenko, I. I. Vittorio Al’f ‘eri: Zhizn’ i proizvedeniia, vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1912.
Dzhivelegov, A. K., and S. S. Mokul’skii. Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatr a, vol. 2. Moscow, 1957.
De Sanktis, F. Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964.
Mokul’skii, S. S. Ital’ianskaia literatura. . .. Moscow, 1966.
Reizov, B. G. Ital’ianskaia literatura XVIII v. [Leningrad], 1966.
Maier, B. E. Alfieri. [Palermo], [1957].
Bustico, G. Bibliografia di V. Alfieri. 3rd ed. Completely revised and extended to 1926. Florence, 1927.
Fabrizi, A. “Rassegna alfieriana (1961–67).” Lettere italiane, 1968, no. 1.


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