Giacomo Leopardi's Search For a Common Life Through Poetry: A Different Nobility, A Different Love (The Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Series in Italian Studies)
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This book traces the life of Giacomo Leopardi by examining four different yet interrelated aspects: his social origins and class in relation to his evolving conception of nobility; the mixture of idealism and misogynism in his attitude toward women and in his conception of love; his poems and prose on the theme of Italian independence; and his philosophical materialism as expressed in his poetry, intellectual diary, and essays. Frank Rosengarten pays particular attention to the ways in which the thought of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche illuminates Leopardi’s world view. He also devotes a section of the book to the different personal, moral, and philological components of Leopardi’s humanism. Throughout, he maintains a sharp focus on the connections between Leopardi’s life and the historical period in which he lived. The major themes and human concerns expressed in Leopardi’s writings relate to his life experiences and to the historical period in which he lived. Of central interest are nobility and love, since Leopardi’s perception of these two themes evolved and changed as he acquired a more general and universal conception of life. This fascinating combination of classical and modern perspectives on life and literature is highlighted throughout the book.
and wanted to be virtuous, if they were compassionate, beneficent, generous, magnanimous, full of enthusiasm; in a word, if everyone were sensitive (because I make no distinction between sensitivity and what is called virtue), wouldn’t we be happier? Wouldn’t each individual find a thousand resources in society? Shouldn’t one apply oneself to fulfilling illusions as much as possible, since the happiness of man cannot consist in what is real? I don’t know whether Leopardi was able to
their oppressors. Apparently, from what some of his contemporaries had to say about this and his other patriotic poems, Leopardi did have some impact on the sentiments of young people in his own time. One wonders to what extent these qualities are responsible for the constant stream of people of all types and ages who come to the Leopardi palazzo in Recanati with eager curiosity about the poet who was born and raised there. Some are foreign tourists, but most are ordinary Italians anxious to
of national renewal is replaced by the poet as solitary figure whose alienation from the everyday life of ordinary people is the predominant animating theme. Yet even as we suffer along with the alienated poet, we should not allow ourselves to become so caught up in his existential anguish that we lose sight of another dimension of his life that he conveys by evoking scenes, sometimes consisting of only a few lines, where ordinary people occupy the center of the poet’s attention. In this way
the next decade, when Leopardi was often away from home, in Rome, Milan, Bologna, and Florence. But there was one incident that might have resulted in a fatal rift, in 1831, when Monaldo published his immensely popular but, to Giacomo, offensive Dialoghetti sulle materie correnti nell’anno 1831. Because of the similarity of its title to Giacomo’s Operette morali, which consisted mainly of dialogues, and because both were work of writers with the name Leopardi, many people jumped to the conclusion
affection. For Count Monaldo (1776–1847) and his wife, Marquise Adelaide Antici (1779–1857), who also came from a noble family of great antiquity, teachers and names were not to be casually chosen; they embodied qualities that the family held to be indispensable to any right-thinking member of their clan. In these and other ways, the Leopardi and the Antici families, like their counterparts elsewhere in the Papal States, tried to make sure that their progeny would follow in their footsteps as