Edmondo De Amicis, (born Oct. 31, 1846, Oneglia, Kingdom of Sardinia--died March 11, 1908, Bordighera, Italy), novelist, short-story writer, poet, and author of popular travel books and children's stories.Educated at the military academy at Modena, De Amicis was commissioned in the artillery. He wrote many sketches of military life for the army journal L'Italia militare and became its editor in 1867; his stories were collected in La vita militare (1868; Military Life in Italy, 1882), followed by Novelle (1872; "Short Stories"), which some critics have thought his best work. He also wrote..
Teofilo Folengo, original name Girolamo Folengo, (born Nov. 8, 1491, Mantua [Italy]--died Dec. 9, 1544, near Bassano Campese, Republic of Venice), Italian popularizer of verse written in macaronics (q.v.), a synthetic combination of Italian and Latin, first written by Tisi degli Odassi in the late 15th century.Folengo entered the Benedictine order as a young man, taking the name Teofilo by which he is known. He lived in the monasteries of Brescia, Mantua, and Padova (Padua), then left the order in about 1525. After 1530 he lived as a hermit near Sorrento, then was readmitted to the Benedictine..
Carlo Levi, in full Carlo Graziadio Levi, (born November 29, 1902, Turin, Italy--died January 4, 1975, Rome), Italian writer, painter, and political journalist whose first documentary novel became an international literary sensation and enhanced the trend toward social realism in postwar Italian literature.Levi was a painter and a practicing physician when he was exiled (1935-36) to the southern district of Lucania for anti-Fascist activities. He wrote of the experience in Cristo si e fermato a Eboli (1945; Christ Stopped at Eboli), which reflects the visual sensitivity of a painter..
Silvio Pellico, (born June 25, 1789, Saluzzo, Kingdom of Sardinia [now in Italy]--died Jan. 31, 1854, Turin), Italian patriot, dramatist, and author of Le mie prigioni (1832; My Prisons), memoirs of his sufferings as a political prisoner, which inspired widespread sympathy for the Italian nationalist movement, the Risorgimento.Educated at Turin, Pellico spent four years in France, returning to Italy in 1809 to begin his career as a poet and playwright. His romantic tragedy Francesca da Rimini (published 1818) was a success on its first performance (1815) and was followed by several others...
Corrado Alvaro, (born April 15, 1895, San Luca, Italy--died June 11, 1956, Rome), Italian novelist and journalist whose works investigated the social and political pressures of life in the 20th century. His works were often set in Calabria, southern Italy.Alvaro began his career as a writer in 1916, working on daily newspapers in Bologna and Milan. Military service in World War I temporarily interrupted his studies at the University of Milan. After graduation he worked for several journals--including the antifascist weekly Il Mondo (1920-30; "The World")--and traveled throughout Europe...
Giuseppe Giusti, (born May 13, 1809, Monsummano, Tuscany--died March 31, 1850, Florence), northern Italian poet and satirist, whose satires on Austrian rule during the early years of Italy's nationalistic movement (the Risorgimento) had great influence and are still enjoyed for their Tuscan wit and lively style.Giusti was sporadically a law student in Pisa (1826-29 and 1832-34) and led an inconspicuous life until the Revolution of 1848. He then sat as a deputy in the two Tuscan legislative assemblies and in the short-lived constituent assembly (until April 1849).Giusti's satirical poems..
Vincenzo Monti, (born Feb. 19, 1754, Alfonsine, near Ravenna [Italy]--died Oct. 13, 1828, Milan), Italian Neoclassical poet, author of many occasional works but remembered chiefly for his fine translation of the Iliad.Originally a student of law and medicine at the University of Ferrara, Monti joined the Arcadian Academy, a Neoclassical group, in 1775, and three years later he went to Rome, where as secretary to Cardinal Braschi (1781-97), the pope's nephew, he was equivalent to court poet to Pius VI.Monti adopted with enthusiasm every political change of his time. Works from his papal period..
Giuseppe Parini, (born May 22/23, 1729, Bosisio, near Milan [Italy]--died Aug. 15, 1799, Milan), Italian prose writer and poet remembered for a series of beautifully written Horatian odes and particularly for Il giorno, (4 books, 1763-1801; The Day), a satiric poem on the selfishness and superficiality of the Milanese aristocracy.Of humble origins, Parini was educated by the Barnabites in Milan. A volume of Arcadian verse, Alcune poesie di Ripano Eupilino (1752), brought him into literary circles; the following year he joined the prestigious Milanese Accademia dei Trasformati ("Academy..
Cino Da Pistoia, original name Cino Dei Sighibuldi, (born c. 1270, Pistoia, near Florence [Italy]--died 1336/37, Pistoia), Italian jurist, poet, and prose writer whose poetry, written in the dolce stil nuovo ("sweet new style"), was admired by Dante and was a great influence on Petrarch.Born into an aristocratic Pistoian family, Cino studied law at the University of Bologna. He became involved in Pistoian politics and was exiled for six years, after which he became ambassador to Florence. A supporter of Henry VII on his coming to Italy in 1310 to be crowned Holy Roman emperor, Cino returned..
Giorgio Bassani, (born March 4, 1916, Bologna, Italy--died April 13, 2000, Rome), Italian author and editor noted for his novels and stories examining individual lives played out against the background of modern history. The author's Jewish heritage and the life of the Jewish community in Ferrara, Italy, are among his recurrent themes.Bassani grew up in Ferrara. In 1938 he was studying literature in Bologna when racial laws were passed in Italy that restricted the activities of Jews, including banning them from universities. Bassani, who had to publish his early works under a pseudonym (Giacomo..
Giovanni Verga, (born Sept. 2, 1840, Catania, Sicily--died Jan. 27, 1922, Catania), novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, most important of the Italian verismo (Realist) school of novelists (see verismo). His reputation was slow to develop, but modern critics have assessed him as one of the greatest of all Italian novelists. His influence was particularly marked on the post-World War II generation of Italian authors; a landmark film of the Neorealist cinema movement, Luchino Visconti's Terra trema (1948; The Earth Trembles), was based on Verga's novel I malavoglia.Born to a family..
Italo Svevo, pseudonym of Ettore Schmitz, (born Dec. 19, 1861, Trieste, Austrian Empire [now in Italy]--died Sept. 13, 1928, Motta di Livenza, Italy), Italian novelist and short-story writer, a pioneer of the psychological novel in Italy.Svevo (whose pseudonym means "Italian Swabian") was the son of a German-Jewish glassware merchant and an Italian mother. At 12 he was sent to a boarding school near Wurzburg, Ger. He later returned to a commercial school in Trieste, but his father's business difficulties forced him to leave school and become a bank clerk. He continued to read on his own and..
Alessandro Manzoni, (born March 7, 1785, Milan--died May 22, 1873, Milan), Italian poet and novelist whose novel I promessi sposi (The Betrothed) had immense patriotic appeal for Italians of the nationalistic Risorgimento period and is generally ranked among the masterpieces of world literature.After Manzoni's parents separated in 1792, he spent much of his childhood in religious schools. In 1805 he joined his mother and her lover in Paris, where he moved in radical circles and became a convert to Voltairian skepticism. His anticlerical poem "Il trionfo della liberta" demonstrates his..
Anna Maria Ortese, Italian writer of magic-realist fiction who was considered one of the 20th century's most important female Italian authors; Il cardillo addolorato (1993; The Lament of the Linnet, 1997) spent several weeks at the top of the Italian fiction lists (b. June 13, 1914, Rome, Italy--d. March 9, 1998, Rapallo, Italy).
Antonio Fogazzaro, (born March 25, 1842, Vicenza, Republic of Venice [Italy]--died March 7, 1911, Vicenza), Italian novelist whose works reflect the conflict between reason and faith.Fogazzaro came from a wealthy family. He cultivated his interest in music and literature at his leisure and established his reputation as a novelist only late in life with Malombra (1881; The Woman), Daniele Cortis (1885; Daniele Cortis), and Il mistero del poeta (1888; The Poet's Mystery). His best-known work, Piccolo mondo antico (1896; The Little World of the Past), was highly acclaimed, even by critics..
Franco Lucentini, Italian novelist (born Dec. 24, 1920, Rome, Italy--died Aug. 5, 2002, Turin, Italy), achieved fame with Carlo Fruttero in a remarkable, if unconventional, literary partnership. After being imprisoned in 1941 for distributing anti-Fascist leaflets, Lucentini began his literary career as a news correspondent and editor. He met Fruttero in 1953 in Paris. The two worked together as translators and journalists but were best known for their mystery thrillers, which were composed in a strangely businesslike manner. After choosing a subject, they worked in ping-pong fashion,..
Luciano Bianciardi, (born Dec. 14, 1922, Grosseto, Italy--died 1971, Milan), Italian writer whose works are a skeptical examination of post-World War II Italy.After graduating from the University of Pisa, Bianciardi taught high school in Grosseto for two years and then moved to Milan and to Rapallo, where he contributed to magazines and worked as a translator and publishing consultant. His disenchantment with the economic and political climate of postwar Italy reached its zenith with the novel La vita agra (1962; It's a Hard Life), in which the protagonist gradually abandons his revolutionary..
Franco Sacchetti, (born 1330-35, Florence or Ragusa [Italy]--died August 15?, 1400, San Miniato, near Florence), Italian poet and storyteller whose work is typical of late 14th-century Florentine literature.Sacchetti was born of a noble Florentine family. Both as merchant and as public official he traveled widely. In his letters, in some of his verses, and in the Sposizioni di Vangeli ("Expositions on the Gospels") he expressed his political and moral views. Although poetry was not his main interest, some of his poems, written to be set to music, are among the best of 14th-century minor poetry...
Vincenzo Cardarelli, original name Nazareno Caldarelli, (born May 1, 1887, Tarquinia, Italy--died June 15, 1959, Rome), Italian poet, essayist, literary critic, and journalist whose traditional, lyrical verse was influenced by the poet Giacomo Leopardi.With no formal schooling beyond the fifth grade, Cardarelli was largely self-educated. He worked in Rome (from 1905) and in Florence (from 1914) as a journalist for such periodicals as Voce ("Voice"), Marzoco, Lirica ("Lyric Poetry"), and Avanti! ("Onward!"). In Rome he helped found the literary journal La ronda (1919-22; "The Rounds"),..
Matilde Serao, (born March 7, 1856, Patras [now Patrai], Greece--died July 25, 1927, Naples, Italy), Greek-born novelist and journalist who was founder and editor of the Neapolitan daily Il giorno.Born in Greece of a Neapolitan father and a Greek mother, Serao returned to Naples with her family; she studied there and worked in a telegraph office and then on the staff of Naples's Corriere del mattino. In 1882 she moved to Rome, and two years later she married Eduardo Scarfoglio, with whom she founded Corriere di Roma and two other periodicals. Returning to Naples, she separated from her husband..
Melchiorre Cesarotti, (born May 15, 1730, Padua, Republic of Venice [Italy]--died Nov. 4, 1808, Selvazzano, near Padua), Italian poet, essayist, translator, and literary critic who, by his essays and his translation of the purported poems of the legendary Gaelic bard Ossian, encouraged the development of Romanticism in Italy.Educated in Padua and a teacher of rhetoric there (1751-60), Cesarotti later was a tutor in the Venetian household of the powerful Grimani family. In 1768 he became professor of Greek and Hebrew at the University of Padua. His versified translation, from the English..
Umberto Saba, original surname Poli, (born March 9, 1883, Trieste, Austria-Hungary [now in Italy]--died Aug. 25, 1957, Gorizia, Italy), Italian poet noted for his simple, lyrical autobiographical poems.Saba was raised by his Jewish mother in the ghetto of Trieste after his Christian father deserted them when Saba was an infant. From age 17 Saba developed his interest in poetry while working as a clerk and a cabin boy and serving as a soldier in World War I. He established his reputation as a poet with the publication of Il canzoniere (1921; "The Songbook"), which was revised and enlarged in 1945,..
Giorgio Manganelli, (born Nov. 11, 1922, Milan, Italy--died May 28, 1990, Rome), Italian critical theorist and novelist, one of the leaders of the avant-garde in the 1960s.Manganelli first emerged as a literary innovator in 1964, both as the author of the experimental novel Hilarotragoedia, a phenomenological monologue, and as a member of Gruppo 63 (Group 63), a school of literature that stressed form over content. He also contributed to the avant-garde journals Grammatica ("Grammar") and Quindici ("Fifteen"). In 1967 he published La letteratura come menzogna ("Literature as a Lie"),..
Alessandro Tassoni, (born Sept. 28, 1565, Modena [Italy]--died April 25, 1635, Modena), Italian political writer, literary critic, and poet, remembered for his mock-heroic satiric poem La secchia rapita (The Rape of the Bucket), the earliest and, according to most critics, the best of many Italian works in that genre.Educated at the universities of Bologna, Pisa, and Ferrara in civil and canon law, Tassoni joined the linguistically conservative Accademia della Crusca in 1589. The greater part of his life was spent in the service of various cardinals in Rome. Among his numerous prose works,..
Giovanni Comisso, (born Oct. 3, 1895, Treviso, Italy--died Jan. 21, 1969, Treviso), Italian author of letters and of lyric and autobiographical novels.Comisso earned a law degree at the University of Siena but never worked as a lawyer. He served in World War I, then lived in Fiume, Italy (now Rijeka, Croatia), with Gabriele D'Annunzio, operated a bookstore in Milan, and was an art dealer in Paris. While working for the major Italian newspapers La gazzetta del popolo, Corriere della sera, Il messaggero, and La stampa, Comisso traveled extensively in Italy and abroad. He then collected and published..
Carlo Emilio Gadda, (born Nov. 14, 1893, Milan, Italy--died May 21, 1973, Rome), Italian essayist, short-story writer, and novelist outstanding particularly for his original and innovative style, which has been compared with that of James Joyce.Gadda was educated as an electrical engineer and volunteered in World War I. During the 1920s he worked as an engineer abroad. He began writing in the 1930s and from the first demonstrated a fascination and facility for language as well as a gift for unemotional and acute psychological and sociological analysis. His first works were collected in I..
Paolo Antonio Rolli, (born June 13, 1687, Rome, Papal States [Italy]--died March 20, 1765, Todi), librettist, poet, and translator who, as Italian master to the English royal household, helped to Italianize 18th-century English taste.The son of an architect, Rolli studied with the major Italian literary critic of the day, Gian Vincenzo Gravina. In 1715 he went to England as the protege of the 8th earl of Pembroke (or possibly the 2nd earl of Stair, or both) and became the Italian teacher in the family of the prince of Wales (later George II). He served the royal family for nearly 30 years, and during..
Guido Delle Colonne, (born c. 1215, Sicily?--died c. 1290, Sicily?), jurist, poet, and Latin prose writer whose poetry was praised by Dante and whose Latin version of the Troy legend was important in bringing the story to Italians and, through various translations, into English literature.Guido delle Colonne apparently was a learned man, a judge, and the author of several Latin chronicles and histories. He was a poet of the Sicilian school, a group of early Italian vernacular poets who were associated with the courts of the Holy Roman emperor Frederick II and his son Manfred, and was strongly..
Beppe Fenoglio, (born March 1, 1922, Alba, Italy--died Feb. 18, 1963, Turin), Italian novelist who wrote of the struggle against fascism and Nazism during World War II. Much of his best work was not published until after his death.Fenoglio spent most of his life in Alba. His studies at the University of Turin were cut short by service in the army, and after World War II he became a wine merchant.As a writer, Fenoglio was a realist with affinities in both subject matter and style to Cesare Pavese, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos. His first book, I ventitre giorni della citta di Alba (1952; "The..
Traiano Boccalini, (born 1556, Loreto, Papal States [Italy]--died Nov. 29, 1613, Venice), prose satirist and anti-Spanish political writer, influential in the Europe of his time for a widely circulated satire, Ragguagli di Parnaso (1612-13; "Reports from Parnassus").The son of an architect, Boccalini was educated for the law and spent many years in Rome in the papal service (1584-1612), becoming acquainted with many eminent men of his day. After 1612 he lived in Venice, where, in contact with the papal nuncio, he was probably occupied with diplomatic activities.Boccalini's political..
Leonardo Sciascia, (born January 8, 1921, Racalmuto, near Agrigento, Italy--died November 20, 1989, Palermo), Italian writer noted for his metaphysical examinations of political corruption and arbitrary power.Sciascia studied at the Magistrale Institute in Caltanissetta. He held either clerical or teaching positions for much of his career, retiring to write full-time in 1968. His political career began in 1976, when he was a Communist Party member in the Palermo city council. Later Sciascia served as a member of the Radical Party in the Italian Parliament; he was elected to the European..
Gesualdo Bufalino, Italian novelist (born Nov. 15, 1920, Comiso, Sicily, Italy--died June 14, 1996, Vittoria, Sicily), saw his literary career blossom after his retirement from teaching in 1976. Bufalino, a talented stylist who wrote rich, sensuous prose, created highly imaginative works that were tinged with bitter realism. He attended Catania and Palermo universities, but service during World War II took him away from Sicily in 1942. Bufalino fought with the partisans in northern Italy and was captured by the Germans. Although he managed to escape, he contracted tuberculosis while..
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, (born Dec. 23, 1896, Palermo, Sicily, Italy--died July 23, 1957, Rome), Italian author, duke of Palma, and prince of Lampedusa, internationally renowned for his only completed novel, Il gattopardo (1958; The Leopard).Born into the Sicilian aristocracy, Lampedusa served as an artillery officer during World War I. After his capture and imprisonment in Hungary, he escaped and returned to Italy on foot. After a nervous breakdown precluded the diplomatic career to which he had aspired, he devoted himself to an intensely private life of intellectual activity,..
Vasco Pratolini, (born Oct. 19, 1913, Florence, Italy--died Jan. 12, 1991, Rome), Italian short-story writer and novelist, known particularly for compassionate portraits of the Florentine poor during the Fascist era. He is considered a major figure in Italian Neorealism.Pratolini was reared in Florence, the setting of nearly all his fiction, in a poor family. He held various jobs until his health failed. His illness forced his confinement in a sanatorium from 1935 to 1937. He had no formal education but was an incessant reader, and during his confinement he began to write.Pratolini went..
Giambattista Basile, (born c. 1575, Naples--died Feb. 23, 1632, Giugliano, Campania), Neapolitan soldier, public official, poet, and short-story writer whose Lo cunto de li cunti, 50 zestful tales written in Neapolitan, was one of the earliest such collections based on folktales and served as an important source both for the later fairy-tale writers Charles Perrault in France in the 17th century and the brothers Grimm in Germany in the 19th century, and for the Italian commedia dell'arte dramatist Carlo Gozzi in the 18th century.Basile was a soldier as a young man and began a career in government..
Dino Buzzati, (born Oct. 16, 1906, Belluno, Italy--died Jan. 28, 1972, Rome), Italian journalist, dramatist, short-story writer, and novelist, internationally known for his fiction and plays.Buzzati began his career on the Milan daily Corriere della Sera in 1928. His two novels of the mountains, written in the style of traditional realism, Barnabo delle montagne (1933; "Barnabus of the Mountains") and Il segreto del bosco vecchio (1935; "The Secret of the Ancient Wood"), introduced the Kafkaesque surrealism, symbolism, and absurdity that suffused all of his writing.The novel generally..
Elsa Morante, (born Aug. 18, 1912, Rome, Italy--died Nov. 25, 1985, Rome), Italian novelist, short-story writer, and poet known for the epic and mythical quality of her works, which usually centre upon the struggles of the young in coming to terms with the world of adulthood.Morante early exhibited literary talent, and, although her formal education remained incomplete, her marriage to the novelist Alberto Moravia brought her for a time into association with the leading Italian writers of the day. However, she remained largely outside the Neorealism movement within which many of these writers..
Elio Vittorini, (born July 23, 1908, Syracuse, Sicily, Italy--died Feb. 13, 1966, Milan), novelist, translator, and literary critic, the author of outstanding novels of Italian Neorealism mirroring his country's experience of fascism and the social, political, and spiritual agonies of 20th-century man. With Cesare Pavese he was also a pioneer in the translation into Italian of English and American writers.The son of a railroad employee, Vittorini left school when he was 17, and six months later he became a road-construction worker in northern Italy. He then moved to Florence, learned..
Riccardo Bacchelli, (born April 19, 1891, Bologna, Italy--died Oct. 8, 1985, Monza), Italian poet, playwright, literary critic, and novelist who championed the literary style of Renaissance and 19th-century masters against the innovations of Italian experimental writers.Bacchelli attended the University of Bologna but left without a degree in 1912. He became a contributor to literary journals. Bacchelli published a notable volume of Poemi lirici ("Lyric Poems") in 1914, when he began service in World War I as an artillery officer. After the war, as a collaborator on the Roman literary..