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By Fabio A Camilletti

ISBN-10: 1317321332

ISBN-13: 9781317321330

ISBN-10: 1848932871

ISBN-13: 9781848932876

ISBN-10: 184893288X

ISBN-13: 9781848932883

In 1816 a violent literary quarrel engulfed Bourbon recovery Italy. On one aspect the Romantics sought after a gap up of Italian tradition in the direction of Europe, and at the different the Classicists favoured an inward-looking Italy. Giacomo Leopardi wrote a Discourse of an Italian on Romantic Poetry aiming to give a contribution to the talk from a brand new standpoint

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Ignaro del mio fato, e quante volte Questa mia vita dolorosa e nuda Volentier con la morte avrei cangiato. (ll. 19–27; And what immense ideas, what tender dreams the sight of that far sea inspired in me, those blue hills I can see from here and planned to cross one day as I invented secret worlds, hidden gladness in my life! ignorant of my fate and of how often I would gladly have exchanged this sad and barren life of mine with death)48 The Discourse is therefore Leopardi’s entrance into the world, the only way he can find for performing heroic actions and having a civil impact on society in an age in which this had become impossible.

For Leopardi, the only conceivable and honest answer to this absence would therefore be to re-charge and to re-enrich with new meanings those very passions, words and things that the death of the father has allegedly made threadbare and clichéd: and which are not so if properly employed (this, ultimately, the message of the Discourse). With elegance, we may add, and discretion; and with a deeply ethical commitment. 1 As Luzzi summarizes, traditional explanations of Italian Romanticism’s ‘ubiquity in Italian scholarship yet … invisibility in foreign criticism’ have primarily been three: First, Italian authors of the early nineteenth century continued to emulate the same Greco-Roman classical culture that the rest of Romantic Europe had begun to regard with suspicion.

5 Quite interestingly, Stendhal located Italy’s past ‘miracles of valour and of genius’ in the political fights for independence of medieval communes, whereas the legacy of the Roman Empire was implicitly transferred to the French one. By presenting the commanding general as the only legitimate successor of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, Stendhal reaffirmed nothing but Napoleon’s intentional self-construction of authority, meticulously pursued in his writings and speeches through the conscious employment of quotations and rhetorical structures borrowed from classical sources, such as Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and Suetonius’s The Twelve Caesars.

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Classicism and Romanticism in Italian literature : Leopardi's Discourse on Romantic poetry by Fabio A Camilletti

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