Authors: Giosuè Carducci

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Italian poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Rime, 1857

Juvenilia, 1863

Giambi, 1867 (also known as Giambi ed epodi, 1882)

Levia gravia, 1868

Decennalia, 1871

Poesie, 1871

Nuove poesie, 1872

Odi barbare, 1877 (Barbarian Odes, 1939)

Nuove odi barbare, 1882 (New Barbarian Odes, 1939)

Ca ira, 1883

Rime nouve, 1887 (Rime nouve of Carducci, 1916; The New Lyrics, 1942)

Terze odi barbare, 1889 (Third Barbarian Odes, 1939)

Rime e ritmi, 1899 (The Lyrics and Rhythms, 1942)

A Selection of His Poems, 1913

A Selection from the Poems, 1921

The Barbarian Odes of Giosuè Carducci, 1939, 1950 (includes Barbarian Odes, New Barbarian Odes, and Third Barbarian Odes)

Edited Text:

L’arpa del populo, 1855

Miscellaneous:

Opere, 1889-1909 (includes prose and poetry)

Opere complete, 1940 (30 volumes; includes all of his prose and poetry)

Biography

Giosuè Carducci (kahr-DEWT-chee) was born in Val di Castello, Tuscany, on July 27, 1835, the son of an ardent Italian revolutionist, Michele Carducci, a physician by profession. The father had been imprisoned for taking part in the Italian revolution of 1831. In 1849, because of political activity, the father was forced to flee his native province of Tuscany to Florence.{$I[AN]9810000699}{$I[A]Carducci, Giosuè}{$I[geo]ITALY;Carducci, Giosuè}{$I[tim]1835;Carducci, Giosuè}

Giosuè Carducci

(Library of Congress)

Carducci was educated in Florence as a boy and began writing poetry while still a child. His poetry won for him a scholarship to the school connected with the University of Pisa. Following his training there he became a teacher. He applied for a post on the faculty of the municipal college at Arezzo, but his political opinions and his father’s political record as a revolutionary caused the college authorities to deny him the appointment. In 1857 a disappointed Carducci returned to Florence to become a private tutor. In November, his depression became worse when his brother Dante killed himself for unknown reasons. A year later Carducci’s father died, and Carducci became the head of his impoverished family. In 1858, he moved his mother and brother Walfredo into a very poor house in Florence, continuing his private lessons and editing the texts of the Bibliotechina Diamante of publisher Gaspare Barbèra. Together with Barbèra, he founded a short-lived periodical, Il poliziano. Despite his financial situation, Carducci married Elvira Menicucci in March, 1859. He also turned to literature, becoming one of a group of young men, the Amici Pedanti, who hoped to reform Italian poetry, to turn it from Romanticism to the classical temper. In his early writing career, Carducci sometimes used the pseudonym Enotrio Romano.

During these years, Carducci wrote the poems which were later gathered together in the volume titled Rime. These poems, like Carducci’s later poetry, reproduced classical meters. During his years in Florence, Carducci also edited a series of books, mainly pieces of Italian literature. With the union of Tuscany and Italy, Carducci’s fortunes turned for the better. First, he was offered the chair of Greek in the secondary school of Pistoia, where he remained for nearly a year; then, in 1860, the minister of education, Terenzio Mamiani, appointed him to the chair of Italian eloquence at the University of Bologna. Carducci was somewhat ambivalent toward his professorial role and its traditional philological orientation and fretted about its effect on his poetry. The position, however, allowed him to deepen his acquaintance with the classics and with the literature of other nations. He lectured at the university for more than forty years, until 1904.

Carducci was a rebel in literary matters, as his father had been in politics. Some of his earlier poems were printed in the journal of the Florentine Amici Pedanti, which was titled Il poliziano. In addition to turning to classical meters in Rime, Carducci used his poetry as criticism, seeing for the Italy of his day very harmful factors in Romantic art and in Christianity. His remedy for what he thought was weakness in Italian culture was a return to the classical in art and to the pagan spirit in religion. Temporarily, with the publication of poems such as “Canzone a Vittorio Emanuele” (1859), Carducci seemed to become a conservative, but his monarchism was short-lived. He soon returned to his role of gadfly, trying to rouse his countrymen out of spiritual, cultural, and political complacency, as in his notorious “Hymn to Satan.” Satan, in this poem, is a symbol for many things, including free thought and the whole notion of progress. The poem, although written in 1863, was not printed until two years later.

Later volumes of Carducci’s poetry included poems on contemporary political events. Levia gravia was a collected edition, including some of the poetry Carducci had written before 1857. In Decennalia Carducci published a volume of poems dealing with the contemporary Italian scene and with historical events in Italy. The poems in Barbarian Odes were based on Latin models. They were an attempt to adapt the prosody of Latin to Italian poetry, an effort earlier Italian poets had tried and in which they had largely failed. Carducci’s attempts were much more successful than those of his predecessors.

The last two decades of Carducci’s life were filled with misery. In 1885 he became ill. Five years later he was made a senator, but in 1899 a stroke paralyzed his hand and nearly deprived him of speech. He continued working, despite the setbacks, publishing his last volume of poetry in 1899 and collecting his works from 1850 to 1900. In 1904 he resigned from teaching. As a crowning honor to his life’s work, however, Carducci was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1906, a year before his death in Bologna.

BibliographyBailey, John Cann. Carducci. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1926. A brief biographical and critical study of Carducci.Brand, Peter, and Lino Pertile, eds. The Cambridge History of Italian Literature. Rev. ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Includes bibliographical references and index.Donadoni, Eugenio. A History of Italian Literature. Translated by Richard Monges. New York: New York University Press, 1969. A two-volume history of Italian literature.Scalia, S. Eugene. Carducci: His Critics and Translators in England and America, 1881-1932. New York: S. F. Vanni, 1937. A history of the critical reception of Carducci’s work in England and America. Includes bibliographic references.Williams, Orlo. Giosuè Carducci. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1914. A short biography of Carducci. Includes bibliographic references.
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