Ungaretti, Giuseppe

Ungaretti, Giuseppe

(jo͞ozĕp`pā o͞ongärĕt`tē), 1888–1970, Italian poet, critic, and translator, b. Alexandria, Egypt. Ungaretti spent his youth in North Africa, where he was greatly influenced by nomadic culture. In Paris, where he studied, he formed friendships with members of the literary and artistic avant-garde. His service in the Italian infantry during World War I provided the background for his first mature poems, written in the trenches, which deal with love and the precariousness of life. Ungaretti's style had already achieved a remarkable purity by condensing his poetic expression to its essentials. Working in the tradition of the French symbolistssymbolists,
in literature, a school originating in France toward the end of the 19th cent. in reaction to the naturalism and realism of the period. Designed to convey impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statement, symbolism found its first expression in poetry but
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, he stressed the musical properties of the individual word and the illuminating power of a single striking image. Ungaretti's poetry was spare and intense; he employed unconventional syntax and eschewed the elaborate rhetorical structures. Because of the allusive yet self-contained quality of his verse, the movement that he inaugurated in poetry was named Hermeticism. The poems in Sentimento del tempo (1933) and Il dolore (1947) mark a return to the traditional meters of Italian poetry. Ungaretti also wrote essays and translated the works of Shakespeare, Racine, and others. He taught at the Univ. of São Paolo in Brazil before accepting a chair at the Univ. of Rome (1942). His works are collected in 12 volumes under the title Vita d'un uomo (tr. Life of a Man, 1969 and 1974). A good English translation of his poetry is Allen Mandelbaum's Selected Poems (tr. 1975).


See biography by L. Rebay (1970) and F. J. Jones (1977).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ungaretti, Giuseppe


Born Feb. 10, 1888, in Alexandria, Egypt; died June 1, 1970, in Milan. Italian poet.

Ungaretti studied in Paris for a short period beginning in 1912 and became friends with G. Apollinaire, P. Valéry, and the Italian futurists. From 1915 to 1918, Ungaretti fought in World War I. His work first appeared in 1915; in 1916 he published the collection The Buried Port, which became the core of the collection The Merriment of Shipwrecks (1919). Ungaretti published an expanded version of this second collection in 1931 and 1936 under the title of Merriment.

The principal themes of Ungaretti’s work are loneliness, the tragic quality of life, and man’s need for human contact. His poetry is characterized by laconic phrasing, a rejection of rhyme, the association of images, and great simplicity of language. Ungaretti was one of the founders of the hermetic school of poetry. During the 1930’s, the pessimistic motifs in his verse came to the fore in the collection A Feeling of Time (1933). In the cycle Occupied Rome (1943–44), the poet voiced the feelings of the entire people in poems such as “Stop Killing the Dead,” which is dedicated to the heroes of the resistance movement. The collection Sorrow (1947) reflected a crisis in Ungaretti’s poetry. Elements of “unpoetic reality” appeared in his late poems.

Ungaretti became chairman of the European Community of Writers in 1962.


Vita d’un uomo: Tutte le poesie. [Milan-Verona, 1969.]
In Russian translation:
[“Stikhi.”] In Iz Ital’ianskikh poetov. Foreword by A. Surkov. Moscow, 1958.
[“Stikhi.”] In Ital’ianskaia lirika: XX vek. Foreword by A. Surkov. Moscow, 1958.


Potapova, Z. M. “Soprotivlenie i sud’by ital’ianskoi literatury.” In Literatura antifashistskogo Soprotivleniia v stranakh Evropy, 1939–1945. Moscow, 1972.
Portinari, F. G. Ungaretti. Turin [1967]. (Contains bibliography.)
Piccioni, L. Vita di un poeta G. Ungaretti [Milan, 1970.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Ungaretti, Giuseppe. "Parole per Gadda." Palatina (Parma) a.
Ungaretti, Giuseppe. Vita dun uomo: saggi e interventi.
Ungaretti, Giuseppe. "Riflessioni sulla letteratura." Vita d'un uomo.