A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets

By John Pilling | Go to book overview
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Lucio Piccolo (1901-69)

Born in Palermo of Sicilian nobility of long-standing. A student of Latin, Greek, medieval literature, algebra, philosophy and occultism; greatly impressed by the music of Wagner as a young man and an accomplished amateur violinist. Widely read in English literature as an adolescent; corresponded with W. B. Yeats at the age of twelve. A relative and friend of Lampedusa, who was inspired to write his famous novel The Leopard by his cousin's success at the 1954 literary symposium at San Pellegrino, to which Montale had invited him. A virtual recluse before and after this success, living with his sisters in great splendour at Capo di Orlando, near Messina, where he died.

The case of Lucio Piccolo is one of the strangest in the history of modern poetry. He published only three volumes of poetry, containing thirty-seven poems in all, during his lifetime. The first was printed privately when Piccolo was fiftythree and sent, in what appears to have been his solitary gesture towards the Italian mainland and its literary establishment, to Eugenio Montale. Montale has recorded how, a little ruefully, he had to pay excess postage on the parcel in order to redeem it. It was Montale's invitation to Piccolo to attend a literary symposium, together with his subsequent recommendation of Piccolo' s volume to a publisher, which ensured the middle-aged Sicilian an audience much larger than he could ever have hoped for or even perhaps wished for. This appears to have inspired Piccolo's cousin Lampedusa to write the solitary novel for which he became post-

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A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets
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