Italian literature  

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Incipit from "Generale Riforma dell' Universo", from the 77th Advertisements from Parnassus
Incipit from "Generale Riforma dell' Universo", from the 77th Advertisements from Parnassus

Canon: Gabriele D'Annunzio, Pietro Aretino Giovanni Boccaccio, Giordano Bruno, Dino Buzzati, Casanova, Traiano Boccalini, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Ernesto Gastaldi, Milo Manara, Alberto Moravia, Luigi Pirandello, Pitigrilli, Poggio Bracciolini, Isabella Santacroce

"There can be no doubt that the pastoral of Longus had a considerable influence on the style and incidents of the subsequent Greek romances, particularly those of Eustathius and Theodorus Prodromus; but its effects on modern pastorals, particularly those which appeared in Italy during the sixteenth century, is a subject of more difficulty. Huet is of opinion, that it was not only the model of the Astrea of D'Urfe, and the Diana of Montemayor, but gave rise to the Italian dramatic pastoral. This opinion is combated by Villoison, on the grounds that the first edition of Longus was not published till 1598, and that Tasso died in the year 1595. It is true that the first Greek edition of Longus was not published till 1598, but there was a French translation by Amyot, which appeared in 1559, and one in Latin verse by Gambara in 1569, either of which might have been seen by Tasso. But although this argument brought forward by Villoison be of little avail, he is probably right in the general notion he has adopted, that Daphnis and Chloe was not the origin of the pastoral drama. The Sacrificio of Agostino Beccari, which was the earliest specimen of this style of composition, and was acted at Ferrara in 1554, was written previous to the appearance of any edition or version of Longus. Nor is there any similarity in the story or incidents of the Aminta to those in Daphnis and Chloe, which should lead us to imagine, that the Greek romance had been imitated by Tasso."--History of Fiction (1814) by Dunlop

Imaginary portrait of Poggio Bracciolini
Imaginary portrait of Poggio Bracciolini

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Italian literature is written in the Italian language, particularly within Italy.

An early example of Italian literature is the tradition of vernacular lyric poetry performed in Occitan, which reached Italy by the end of the 12th century. In 1230, the Sicilian School became notable for being the first style in standard Italian. Dante Alighieri, one of the greatest of Italian poets, is notable for being the author of La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy, c. 1308–1320). Renaissance humanism developed during the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries; Italian humanists sought to create a citizenry able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity. Early Italian humanists, such as the lyric poet Francesco Petrarca and the Neoplatonist philosopher Marsilio Ficino, were erudite Classical scholars and great collectors of antique manuscripts. The Italian nobleman, statesman, and mecenate Lorenzo de Medici is regarded as the standard bearer of the influence of Florence on the Renaissance in the Italian states. The Italian polymath, scientist, and artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote a treatise on painting. The development of the drama in the 15th century was very great. In the 16th century, the fundamental characteristic of the era following the end of the Renaissance is that it perfected the Italian character of its language. Niccolò Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini were the chief originators of the science of history. Pietro Bembo was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language and an influence on the 16th-century revival of interest in the works of Petrarca.

In 1690, the Academy of Arcadia was instituted with the goal of "restoring" literature by imitating the simplicity of the ancient shepherds with sonnets, madrigals, canzonette, and blank verses. In the 17th century, some strong and independent Italian free-thinkers, such as Bernardino Telesio, Giulio Cesare Vanini, Giordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella turned philosophical and esoteric inquiry into fresh channels, and opened the way for the scientific conquests of the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who is notable both for his scientific discoveries and his writings. In the 18th century, the political condition of the Italian states began to improve, and philosophers disseminated their writings and ideas throughout Europe during the Age of Enlightenment. Apostolo Zeno and Metastasio are two of the notable figures of the age. Carlo Goldoni, a Venetian playwright and librettist, created the comedy of character. The leading figure of the 18th-century Italian literary revival was Giuseppe Parini.

The philosophical, political, and socially progressive ideas behind the French Revolution of 1789 gave a special direction to Italian literature in the second half of the 18th century, inaugurated with the publication of the juridical-philosophical treatise Dei delitti e delle pene (On Crimes and Punishments, 1764) by the Italian criminologist and jurist Cesare Beccaria. Love of liberty and desire for equality created a literature aimed at national object. Patriotism and classicism were the two principles that inspired the literature that began with the Italian dramatist and poet Vittorio Alfieri. Other patriots included the lyric poets Vincenzo Monti and Ugo Foscolo. The Romantic movement had as its organ the Conciliatore, established in 1818 at Milan. The main instigator of the reform was the Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, notable for being the author of the historical novel I promessi sposi (The Betrothed, 1827–1842). The great Italian poet of the age was Giacomo Leopardi. History returned to its spirit of learned research. The literary movement that preceded and was contemporary with the political revolutions of 1848 may be said to be represented by four writers: Giuseppe Giusti, Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi, Vincenzo Gioberti, and Cesare Balbo. After the Risorgimento, political literature became less important. The first part of this period is characterized by two divergent trends of literature that both opposed Romanticism: the Scapigliatura and Verismo, with the most prominent figure of the latter being the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga, author of I Malavoglia (The House by the Medlar-Tree, 1881).

Important early 20th-century Italian writers include Giovanni Pascoli, Italo Svevo, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Umberto Saba, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Eugenio Montale, and Luigi Pirandello (winner of the 1934 Nobel Prize in Literature). Neorealism was developed by Alberto Moravia. Pier Paolo Pasolini became notable for being one of the most controversial authors in the history of Italy. Umberto Eco became internationally successful with the Medieval detective story Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose, 1980). The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Italian language authors six times (as of 2019) with winners including Giosuè Carducci, Grazia Deledda, Luigi Pirandello, Salvatore Quasimodo, Eugenio Montale, and Dario Fo.

See also

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