De Sanctis, Francesco

De Sanctis, Francesco

De Sanctis, Francesco (fränchāsˈkō dā sängkˈtēs), 1817–83, Italian historian and literary critic. He was one of the founders of modern Italian literary criticism. He suffered imprisonment for his political views and was exiled to Malta. He was one of the first in the world to hold a position as professor of comparative literature with his appointment at Naples (1871–77). He supported Cavour, who appointed him minister of education. Important works are his Saggi critici [critical essays] (1866) and his History of Italian Literature (1871, tr. 1931), a history of Italian national feeling as traced through literature. He also wrote studies of Petrarch (2d ed. 1883) and Leopardi (1885).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

De Sanctis, Francesco


Born Mar. 28, 1817, in Morra Irpina, present-day Morra de Sanctis, Avellino Province; died Dec. 29, 1883, in Naples. Italian literary historian, critic, and public figure.

De Sanctis was active in the national-liberation movement (the Risorgimento), and his creative works reflect revolutionary democratic ideals. After the unification of Italy, he was minister of education. De Sanctis’ most important Works are Critical Essays ( 1866), A Critical Essay on Petrarch ( 1869), A History of Italian Literature (1870), and New Critical Essays (1872–79). His posthumously published works are Leopardi (1885) and Italian Literature in the 19th Century (1897).

In the early years of his career, De Sanctis was associated with Italian romanticism, whose most progressive tendencies he expressed. His views were formed under the influence of Vico and Hegel. In the second half of the 1860’s the materialist tendencies in De Sanctis’ philosophy and the realistic tendencies in his aesthetics became stronger. His works heavily influenced verist poetics. The work A History of Italian Literature gives a sweeping view of the history of literary development.

De Sanctis was highly esteemed by A. Gramsci, who noted his humanism and “the fervent ardor of a party man” in him (Izbr. proizv., vol. 3, Moscow, 1959, p. 502). Italian progressive (particularly Marxist) literary scholars, like N. Sapegno, G. Petronio, and C. Salinari, have extensively used and developed De Sanctis’ legacy.


Opere, vols. 1–21. Edited by N. Cortese. Naples-Turin, 1930–69.
In Russian translation.
Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury, vols. 1–2. Edited by D. E. Mikhal’chi. Moscow, 1963–64.


Gramsci, A. Izbr. proizv., vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Poluiakhtova, I. K. Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury XIX v. (epokha Risordzhimento). Moscow, 1970. Pages 192–97.
Croce, B. Una famiglia di patrioti. Bari, 1927.
Cione, E. F. De Sanctis ed i suoi tempi. Naples, 1961.
Macera, G. Fr. De Sanctis: Restauro critico. [Naples, 1968.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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