Leopardi: A Study in Solitude

Leopardi: A Study in Solitude

Leopardi: A Study in Solitude

Leopardi: A Study in Solitude

Excerpt

The first edition of this Life of Leopardi, which I have now revised and enlarged, appeared eighteen years ago. Since then the centenary of Leopardi's death has been celebrated, with much pomp and many speeches, in both Naples and Recanati, and on the 22nd of February 1939, the little that is left of his bones was transferred from the church of S. Vitale to the slopes of the hill above Mergellina, beside 'Virgil's tomb'.

A considerable amount of new material--including four more volumes of Leopardi Epistolario and many of the papers left in Ranieri's possession--has either come to light, or has been rendered available. It is listed in the Bibliography at the end of this book. Moreover, two excellent Italian Lives of the poet--by Giovanni Ferretti and by Michele Saponaro--as well as several interesting critical studies and monographs, have appeared, and two new critical editions of Leopardi Works have been made by Francesco Flora and by Giuseppe De Robertis.

All this recent material, while it has made me aware of the deficiencies of my first effort, does not, I think, lead to any essentially different conclusions about Leopardi, either as a writer or as a man. My apology for this edition is rather the one I would give if I were asked after eighteen years to describe an old friend: in the interval I have perhaps got to know him a little better.

It is sometimes a good plan, however, to go back to one's starting- point; and while I was re-reading Leopardi's works, I thought I would also visit his birthplace again. I arrived there on a grey November evening. In the little square before Palazzo Leopardi a piercing wind was raising little eddies of dust and dead leaves, and an old woman--the only human figure in sight--was hobbling up the church steps, with a little straw chair under her arm, her black shawl . . .

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