Giacomo Leopardi

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Leopardi, Giacomo

 

Born June 29, 1798, in Recanati, in the province of Macerata; died June 14, 1837, in Naples. Count; Italian poet.

Leopardi began writing poetry and translating from ancient languages in his early youth. His canzone “To Italy” and “To the Monument of Dante” (both 1818) combine patriotic and freedom-loving sentiments with a tragic sense of life’s hopelessness. His most important book, Songs (published 1831; republished 1835 and 1845), contains political, intimate, and philosophical lyric poems. Paralipomenes of the War Between the Mice and Frogs (published 1842), a satirical narrative poem written in octaves, depicts the events of 1815–21 in Italy. Leopardi also wrote “Hymn to Neptune,” Five Sonnets (1817), prose dialogues (Minor Moral Works, published 1827), translations, and works on classical philology.

Leopardi’s work, an outstanding achievement of modern Italian literature, contradictorily reflects the ideas of the Risorgimento. Essentially a romantic, Leopardi still had classical ties. His reverence for classical antiquity was symptomatic of his profound dissatisfaction with Italian reality. In many ways, his poetry is in harmony with Byron’s Weltschmerz.

WORKS

Opere. Edited by G. Getto. [Milan, 1966.]
In Russian translation:
Dialogi i mysli. Translated by N. M. Sokolov. St. Petersburg, 1908.
Pesni i otryvki. Translated by I. Tkhorzhevskii. [St. Petersburg, 1908.]
Lirika. Translated by A. Akhmatova and A. Naiman. Moscow, 1967.

REFERENCES

De Sanctis, F. Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury, vol. 2, Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Italian.)
Poluiakhtova, I. K. Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury XIX veka (epokha Risordzhimento). Moscow, 1970.
Bigongiari, P. Leopardi. Florence, 1962.
De Sanctis, F. Leopardi, 2nd ed. Edited by C. Muscetta and A. Paerna. Turin, 1969.
Mazzatinti, G., M. Menghini, and G. Natali. Bibliografia leopardiana, vols. 1–3. Florence, 1931–53.

N. B. TOMASHEVSKII