Foscolo, Ugo

Foscolo, Ugo

(o͞o`gō fôs`kōlō), 1778–1827, Italian poet and patriot. His name was originally Niccolò Foscolo. A devoted Venetian, he pinned his hope of a restored republic on Napoleon and fought under him against the Austrians, even after Napoleon's political untrustworthiness had become evident. Upon Napoleon's defeat and the annexation of Venice to Austria, Foscolo exiled himself to London, where at first he had great social success. Having spent his earnings, he was forced to give lessons and write articles and for several years before his death lived in extreme poverty. His novel, The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis (1798–1802, tr. 1818), an account of his political disillusionment, exerted a strong influence on Italian letters, as did also his critical essays, translations, and lyric poems, especially Sepulchres (1807).


See study by G. Cambon (1980).

Foscolo, Ugo


(real name, Niccolò Foscolo). Born Feb. 6, 1778, on the island of Zante, Greece; died Sept. 10, 1827, in Turnham Green, near London. Italian poet and literary critic.

Foscolo received a classical education in Padua. He took part in the Italian national liberation movement and fought in Napoleon’s army. In 1798 he became disillusioned with Napoleon, condemned him as a new oppressor, and left the army. In 1816 he emigrated to England.

Foscolo’s earliest poems were lyric epistles and odes. His tragedies Tieste (1797), Ajax (1811), and Ricciarda (1813) followed the traditions of revolutionary classicism. Foscolo’s poetic masterpiece, the lyric poem The Tombs, was written in 1806 and published the following year. In the narrative poem The Graces (1812–13), Foscolo extolled ideal beauty.

Foscolo’s novel The Last Letters of Iacopo Ortis (1798; last edition published during the author’s lifetime, 1816; Russian translation, 1962) underwent a number of revisions. The book, which began as a sentimental novel in letters, evolved into a lyric confession imbued with revolutionary romanticism and patriotic enthusiasm. Foscolo’s articles on Italian literature included “The Lyric Poetry of Tasso,” “A Historical Commentary on the Decameron,” and his most important literary study, “Commentary on Dante’s Divine Comedy” (1825). Foscolo is recognized as the founder of romantic literary criticism in Italy.


Epistolario, vols. 1–2. Florence, 1949–52.
Edizione nazionale delle opere, vols. 1–12. Florence, 1958.


Dante i vsemirnaia literatura: [sb. stateij. Moscow, 1967. Pages 158–65.
Poluiakhtova, I. K. “Ugo Foskolo.” In Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury XIXv.: Epokha Risordzhimento. Moscow, 1970.
Pecchio, G. Vita di Ugo Foscolo. Lugano, 1830.
Graf, A. Foscolo, Manzoni, Leopardi. Turin, 1898.
Donaldoni, E. Ugo Foscolo: Pensatore, critico, poeta, saggio, 2nd ed. Palermo, 1927.
Natali, G. Ugo Foscolo. Florence [1967]. (Contains bibliography.)
Fubini, M. Ugo Foscolo [3rd ed.]. Florence [1967].


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Foscolo, Ugo. Edizione nazionale delle opere di Ugo Foscolo.