Il piacere, 1889 (The Child of Pleasure, 1898)
Giovanni Episcopo, 1892 (Episcopo and Company, 1896)
L’innocente, 1892 (The Intruder, 1898)
Il trionfo della morte, 1894 (The Triumph of Death, 1896)
Le vergini della rocce, 1896 (The Maidens of the Rocks, 1898)
Il fuoco, 1900 (The Flame of Life, 1900)
Forse che si forse che no, 1910
La Leda senza cigno, 1916 (Leda Without Swan, 1988)
Terra vergine, 1882, 1884
Il libro della vergini, 1884
San Pantaleone, 1886
Le novelle della Pescara, 1902 (Tales from My Native Town, 1920)
Le faville del maglio, 1924, 1928 (2 volumes)
Primo vere, 1879, 1880
Canto novo, 1882, 1896
Intermezzo di rime, 1884, 1896
Isaotta Gùttadauro ed altre poesie, 1886, 1890
San Pantaleone, 1886
Elegie romane, 1892
Poema paradisiaco–Odi navali, 1893
Laudi del cielo del mare della terra e degli eroi, 1899
Alcyone, 1904 (English translation, 1977)
Canti della guerra latina, 1914-1918
Le laudi, 1949 (expanded version of 1899 title, also includes Maia, Elettra, Alcyone, Merope, and Asterope)
Sogno di un mattino di primavera, pr., pb. 1897 (The Dream of a Spring Morning, 1902)
Sogno di un tramonto d’autunno, pb. 1898 (The Dream of an Autumn Sunset, 1904)
La città morta, pb. 1898, pr. in French 1898, pr. in Italian 1901 (The Dead City, 1900)
La Gioconda, pr., pb. 1899 (Gioconda, 1902)
La gloria, pr., pb. 1899
Francesca da Rimini, pr. 1901 (verse play; English translation, 1902)
La figlia di Jorio, pr., pb. 1904 (The Daughter of Jorio, 1907)
La fiaccola sotto il moggio, pr., pb. 1905 (verse play)
Più che l’amore, pr. 1906
La nave, pr., pb. 1908 (verse play)
Fedra, pr., pb. 1909 (verse play)
Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, pr., pb. 1911 (music by Claude Debussy, choreography by Ida Rubinstein)
La Pisanelle: Ou, La Mort parfumée, pr. in French 1913, pb. 1913 (music by Ildebrando Rizzetti and Pietro Mascagni)
Parisina, pr., pb. 1913 (music by Mascagni)
La Chèvrefeuille, pr. 1913 (The Honeysuckle, 1915)
L’armata d’Italia, 1888
L’allegoria dell’autunno, 1895
Contemplazione della morte, 1912
Vite di uomini illustri e di uomini oscuri, 1913
La musica di Wagner e la genesi del “Parsifal,” 1914
Per la più grande Italia, 1915
La penultima ventura, 1919, 1931 (2 volumes)
Il notturno, 1921
Il libro ascetico della giovane Itali, 1926
Le cento e cento e cento pagine del libro segreto di Gabriele D’Annunzio tentato di morire, 1935
Teneo te, Africa, 1936
Solus ad solam, 1939
Opera omnia, 1927-1936
Tutte le opere, 1930-1965
Tutte le opere, 1931-1937
Opera complete, 1941-1943 (41 volumes)
Nocturne and Five Tales of Love and Death, 1988
The tumultuous life of Gabriele D’Annunzio (dahn-NOONT-syoh) elicited great fascination from his contemporaries and nourished the works of his biographers with a number of romantic anecdotes. D’Annunzio himself orchestrated and publicized his “inimitable life,” paying careful attention to the preservation of his legend. His correspondence (more than ten thousand letters) also maintained and renewed, with countless details, the interest in his life.
D’Annunzio was born in Pescara, a small and, at that time, somnolent little city on the coast of the Abruzzi region. His family belonged to the middle class and was wealthy enough to provide him with an excellent education. Apart from a deep affection for his mother, young Gabriele did not feel a great respect for his father, nor did he show a particular attachment for his other relatives. It was not the family, but rather the Abruzzi region, with its primitive society dominated by ancestral laws, that influenced him deeply. The landscape, people, and folklore of his native land were to be a recurrent motif in D’Annunzio’s works.
D’Annunzio soon left his hometown for Prato, in Tuscany, where at the renowned Liceo Cicognini he received a solid preparation in the humanities. A brilliant student and a daring young rebel, D’Annunzio excelled in all of his classes, protested against the strict discipline, and led his classmates in knavish escapades. Later, the recollection of these years would give substance to some beautiful pages of his memoir prose. D’Annunzio’s years in Prato culminated in 1879 with the publication of a collection of verses, Primo vere (early spring), which was very well received by the critics.
This first success opened the way to a brilliant literary career. In 1881 D’Annunzio was in Rome with the intention of pursuing his studies at the university, but soon he abandoned academia to embrace the elegant and worldly life of the capital. Brilliant contributor to journals and magazines, cherished guest of aristocratic and literary circles, D’Annunzio succeeded in combining an effervescent social life with unrelenting literary activity. After a romantic elopement, his marriage in 1883 to Maria Hardouin, duchess of Gallese, crowned the success of his social ambitions, and the publication of The Child of Pleasure in 1889 consolidated his literary reputation.
The marriage, which saw the birth of three children, was to last seven years. For the first four years, D’Annunzio seemed to accept an approximation of conventional domesticity, but in 1887, his encounter with Barbara, the wife of Count Leoni, precipitated the end of his already precarious union with Maria. His sensual passion for “Barbarella” inspired in part the novel The Triumph of Death and all the verses of Elegie romane.
Naples, where D’Annunzio moved in 1891, represents another step in his life and writings. There he collaborated with his friend, Eduardo Scarfoglio, the editor of Il corriere di Napoli, in which he published his novel The Intruder in installments. D’Annunzio’s first engagement in politics dated from this time, with the publication of an article, “La bestia elettiva.” In this article he attacked universal suffrage, restating Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of the inevitable supremacy of one group over another. These artisocratic ideas constantly recur in his writings, and the influence of the German philosopher is particularly evident in the works of the next decade.
While in Naples, the love affair with Barbara came to an end, and the writer became involved with Princess Maria Gravina, who left her husband to live with him. Two children were born from this union, but his love for Maria did not survive a cruise to Greece in 1904. Upon his return, he separated from her to start a new love relationship, this time with the great actress Eleonora Duse. Duse, an extremely intelligent and passionate woman, brought to D’Annunzio the most enriching and stimulating love of his life. Under her influence, he began his career as a dramatist and with her, in the splendid retreat of La Capponcina, his Tuscan villa, wrote the first three books of Le laudi, which remain the greatest accomplishment of D’Annunzio the poet. Their relationship also provided him with the narrative nucleus of the novel The Flame of Life, published in 1900, in which he did not hesitate to portray in the aging actress Foscarina the generous and loving Eleonora. This fact, added to his chronic unfaithfulness, was one of the factors that prompted their separation in 1905. During the exceptionally productive years from 1895 to 1905, D’Annunzio also published the novel The Maidens of the Rocks and actively engaged in politics. In 1897, his name appeared on the list of right-wing candidates, and he was elected as a representative to the Italian parliament.
This first contact with political life did not mark him deeply, because his attendance in parliament was sporadic and his interventions capricious. His boredom with the ruling conservative party, which he described as “a group of screaming dead men,” soon became open rejection. When, in 1900, the Pelloux government proposed its harsh reactionary laws, D’Annunzio ostentatiously moved his seat from the extreme right to the extreme left. In an article that appeared a few days later, the writer justified his abrupt conversion by explaining that what he appreciated in the Socialist Party was its destructive potential–the same thing he admired in Nietzsche’s theories.
After his separation from Eleonora Duse, D’Annunzio continued his amorous career with new conquests: first, Marquise Carlotti who, once abandoned by him, found peace in a convent; then Countess Mancini who, shattered by the impact of their turbulent and precarious relationship, collapsed into moments of despair and mental insanity. It was a sad episode, recounted by D’Annunzio in Forse che si forse che no (yes or no) and in Solus ad solam, an autobiographical writing that was published only after his death, in 1939.
Although D’Annunzio was a skillful manager of his literary success, the costly experiments with cars and planes he financed and his extravagant tastes drove him to bankruptcy. In 1909 he was obliged to sell his mansion, La Capponcina, and, being pursued by his creditors, decided to leave Italy for France. Friends and admirers welcomed the famous writer, and he remained in France until the outbreak of World War I.
During his voluntary exile, he took an active part in the social and intellectual life of Paris and published several works in French. Among them, the most prominent work is Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien, a theatrical text with music by Claude Debussy, which was presented in Paris in 1911.
The most magnificent adventure of D’Annunzio’s life began with World War I. Upon his return to Italy in 1914, he campaigned for the intervention against Germany, and as soon as Italy entered the war, he enlisted as a volunteer. He fought first on the front line and at sea. Afterward he participated in several risky actions with the first military planes, until a plane accident cost him three months of immobility and the loss of his right eye. During this period of forced inactivity, he painfully scribbled a number of notes which were to become the nucleus of Il notturno, one of his most valuable works in prose.
By the end of the war, D’Annunzio, quite naturally, assumed the role of the poet-prophet, voicing the feeling of frustration and discontent of the Italian people, confronted by an economic crisis and peace negotiations that did not favor Italian interests. Popular unrest reached its apex with the question of the annexation of Fiume, a city on the Dalmatian coast. D’Annunzio chose action; leading a group of volunteers in the famous Marci dei Ronchi, he occupied Fiume, where he established a temporary government. The Italian government, which was trying to avoid open conflict over the issue, first ordered D’Annunzio to leave the city, then sent the fleet with the order to bomb Fiume to force him to retreat.
Meanwhile, Benito Mussolini had assumed the leadership of the nationalist forces. In 1920, when D’Annunzio returned from his unsuccessful enterprise, there was no place left for him on the political scene. Abandoning any hope of playing an active role in the country, D’Annunzio retired to a large estate on Lake Garda, later named Il Vittoriale (the name means “pertaining to victory”), where, in semi-isolation, he spent the rest of his life.
D’Annunzio’s last years were devoted to the editing of his Opera omnia. He also gathered some of his previous writings, which he published in two volumes as Le faville del maglio. Memories, erotic obsessions, and feelings of disillusionment fill the pages of Le cento e cento e cento pagine del libro segreto di Gabriele D’Annunzio tentato di morire, which, apart from some privileged moments, lacks the vigor and drive of his other works. Without the fresh inspiration of a life intensly lived, literature had become for D’Annunzio an empty form. He died at Il Vittoriale in 1938 and lay in state in the uniform of an air force general.