Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic

By Benedetto Croce; Douglas Ainslie | Go to book overview

XV
FRANCESCO DE SANCTIS

ON the other hand, the autonomy of art found a strong supporter in Italy in the critical work of Francesco de Sanctis, who held private classes in literature at Naples from 1838 to 1848, taught at Turin and Zürich from 1852 to 1860 and in 1870 became professor in the University of Naples. He expressed his doctrines in critical essays, in monographs on Italian writers and in his classic History of Italian Literature. Receiving his first elements of old Italian culture in Puoti's school, his natural bent towards speculation led him to investigate grammatical and rhetorical doctrines with the view of reducing them to a system; but he soon began to criticize and to grow out of this phase. He pronounced Fortunio, Alunno, Accarisio and Corso "empirics"; he had a slightly better opinion of Bembo, Varchi, Castelvetro and Salviati, who introduced "method" into grammar, a process completed subsequently by Buonmattei, Corticelli and Bartoli; and he proclaimed Francisco Sanchez, author of the Minerva, "the Descartes of grammarians." From these his admiration spread to the French writers of the eighteenth century and the philosophical grammars of Du Marsais, Beauzée, Condillac and Gérard; following in their wake and pursuing the ideal of Leibniz, he conceived a "logical grammar"; in this effort, however, he soon began to recognize the impossibility of reducing the differences of languages to fixed logical principles. If he found the French theorists admirable in their ability to reconstitute the simple and primitive forms; from


F. de Sanctis: development of his thought.

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