The second draft was published in —27 under the title I promessi sposi The Betrothed ; and the final definitive edition came out in —42 after a long, painstaking process of revision aimed at making the text conform more closely with colloquial Florentine usage. The foremost Italian poet of the age was Giacomo Leopardi , an outstanding scholar and thinker whose philological works together with his philosophical writings, Operette morali , would alone place him among the great writers of the 19th century.
Embittered by solitude, sickness, and near penury, he realized from age 20 the vanity of hope. Though he developed a doctrine of universal pessimism, seeing life as evil and death as the only comfort, the poetry based on these bitter, despairing premises was far from depressing. The Poems of Leopardi , first published in Some were patriotic and were once very popular; but the most memorable came from deeper lyrical inspiration.
They balance depth of meaning and formal beauty, simplicity of diction , intensity, and verbal music. Italian literature.
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Illusions, for Leopardi, have to do with feeling rather than with ideas. What is more, this thinking is intimately bound up with reason itself. So Leopardi writes:. My system introduces a Skepticism that is not only reasoned and proven, but is such that human reason, according to my system, whatever possible progress is made, will never succeed in ridding itself of this skepticism.
On the contrary, it contains the truth, and it is demonstrated that our reason can absolutely not find the truth save by doubting, that it distances itself from truth whenever it judges with certainty, and that not only does doubt serve to uncover the truth…, but that truth essentially consists in doubt, and whoever doubts knows, and knows as much as one can know. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power , trans. Walter Kaufmann and R. Hollingdale, ed.
Literature and Thought in Italian Romanticism
Nietzsche, The Will to Power, Massimo Cacciari, Magis Amicus Leopardi. Antonio Gramsci, Letters from Prison , ed. Frank Rosengarten, trans. Casarino and Negri, In Praise of the Common , , Erminio Risso Milan: Feltrinelli, , The Letters of Giacomo Leopardi, , trans.
Alessandro Carrera, trans. See also Tara Mulqueen and Daniel Matthews, eds.
Classicism and Romanticism in Italian Literature: Leopardi's Discourse on Romantic Poetry
On the proliferation of new terms, see Bosteels, The Actuality of Communism , Negri, Flower of the Desert , fn. Leopardi, Discourse by an Italian on Romantic Poetry , trans. Gabrielle Sims and Fabio A. Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone , eds.