Classicism and Romanticism in Italian Literature: Leopardi's - download pdf or read online

By Fabio A Camilletti

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 controversy from a brand new standpoint.

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In analysing this process, with a specific attention to the French case, Jean Starobinski speaks of a transition between what he terms la fable and proper mythology (mythologie), two terms denoting two distinct domains: l’un s’établit au niveau de tous les faits de culture (poésie, théâtre, ballets, peinture, sculpture, arts décoratifs) où les motifs mythologiques sont repérables; l’autre est constitué par l’ensemble des textes historiques, critiques, spéculatifs, qui tentent d’élaborer un savoir sur les mythes, une science des mythes (the one concerns all the cultural products (poetry, theatre, ballets, painting, sculpture, decorative arts) in which mythological motifs can be found; the other is formed of the ensemble of historical, critical and speculative texts that attempt to elaborate a knowledge of myths, a science of myths)61 The fable, in Starobinski’s terms, is the complex of notions concerning the divinities of ancient paganism and derived from ancient sources (particularly Hesiod, Ovid and Apollodorus of Athens), providing a repertory of narrative structures, allegorical connections and metaphors.

Now they would probably be the first ones to describe themselves as Classicists. )24 Pellico was right; the term could be misleading, not only because of the Milanese Romantics’ confused programme, but also because the adjective ‘Romantic’ and its derivatives, in 1816 Italy, did sound absolutely new. Only a few decades before, the German adjective romantisch had proven itself to be quite problematic for Italian translators. In Die Leiden des jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther), first published in 1774, Goethe had used it in a rather polysemous way.

This point had been raised by Londonio in his Cenni critici sulla poesia romantica, who had noted how molte e molte espressioni allegoriche o figurate, desunte dall’antica mitologia, sono talmente sanzionate dall’uso generale, che per escluderle bisognerebbe mandar sossopra il nostro vocabolario, e mettere in loro luogo delle lunghe e snervate perifrasi che non arriverebbero mai ad esprimere l’idea coll’egual forza e precisione (many, many allegorical and figurative expressions, derived from ancient mythology, have been so well established in general use that, in order to exclude them, we must turn our vocabulary upside down, and replace them with long and enervated periphrases that could never manage to express the idea with the same strength and precision)57 In 1825, the situation seems to have slightly mutated.

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

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