Verga, Giovanni

Verga, Giovanni

(jōvän`nē vĕr`gä), 1840–1922, Italian novelist, b. Sicily. He abandoned the study of law for literature and wrote several novels of passion in the style of the French realists. His later works, written in a different style, are marked by simplicity and strict accuracy. They deal with the Sicilian middle class and sympathetically treat the poverty and struggles of the peasantry. Verga's technique gave rise to the term verismo, denoting the realistic school. He is considered one of the outstanding writers of modern Europe and has been compared with Flaubert and Zola. His works include Cavalleria rusticana (1880, tr. with other stories in the same volume by D. H. Lawrence, 1928), I Malavoglia (1881, tr. The House by the Medlar Tree, 1890), Novelle rusticane (1883, tr. by D. H. Lawrence, Little Novels of Sicily, 1925), and Mastro-Don Gesualdo (1889, tr. by D. H. Lawrence, 1923). The dramatization of Cavalleria rusticana was produced in 1884, and Mascagni's opera, based on it, in 1890. A stage version of La lupa, one of his best stories, was produced in 1896 (tr. The Wolf Hunt, 1921).


See study by G. L. Lucente (1981).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Verga, Giovanni


Born Aug. 31, 1840, in Catania, Sicily; died there Jan. 27, 1922. Italian writer.

Verga’s first novels, Carbonari of the Mountains (1861-62) and In the Lagoon (1863), are typical of Italian revolutionary romanticism. The second period of Verga’s creative work encompasses sentimental novels drawn from the life of bohemianism as well as high society: The Sinner (1866), Eva (1873; Russian translation, 1881), A Real Tiger (1875), and others. His novella TV edda (1874), concerning the tragic fate of a young woman farmworker, displays traits of a new trend in Italian realistic literature, verismo; Verga became its leader during the 1880’s. Humanism and democratism, which had always been characteristic of Verga, now acquired a special resonance. At the same time there was an intensification of his fatalistic view of the destiny of man and society. In his collections of stories Life of the Fields (1880) and Little Novels of Sicily (1883), he showed the difficult life and profound feelings of Sicilian peasants and farmworkers and satirically depicted the rich people of these rural areas. In the novels The House by the Medlar Tree (1881; Russian translation, 1936) and Mastro Don Gesualdo (1889; Russian translation, 1895) Verga described the social shifts in Sicily under the influence of capitalism that led to the destruction of the family structure. P. Mascagni used motifs from Verga’s story Cavalleria Rusticana (1884) for his opera of the same name (1890).


Novelle rusticane. Rome, 1920.
Lettere al suo traduttore. Florence, 1954.
In Russian translation:
Dramy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Novelly. Moscow, 1957.


Dzhovanni Verga: Biobibliograf che skii ukazatel’. (Compiled and prefaced by V. T. Danchenko.) Moscow, 1966.
Cattaneo, G. Giovanni Verga. [Turin, 1963.] (Bibliography.)
Russo, L. Giovanni Verga, 4th ed. Bari, 1966.
Scuderi, E. Verga. [Catania, 1966.] (Bibliography, pages 240-45).
Ricciardi, M. “Rassegna verghiana.” Lettere italiane, 1968, no. 2.
Storia delta letteratura italiana, vol. 8 [Milan, 1968.] (Bibliography.)
Raja, G. Un secolo di bibliografia verghiana. Padua, 1960.


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