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Leopardi Paperback – May 25, 1997
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You'll not grieve, surely,Just as Hamlet leaps out of the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, Leopardi (who died in 1837) ceases to accept the consolations of the Enlightenment. Refusing to find a fixed center of the universe, he admits to the presence of the void. No poet before him so actively conveys the force of nothing: "Tomorrow the hours will be leaden / With emptiness and melancholy." Indeed, the recognition of such metaphysical boredom, which the Italians call la noia, strikes Leopardi as the very badge of humanity: "To suffer want, emptiness, and hence noia--this seems to me the chief sign of the grandeur and nobility of human nature." --Mark Rudman
For the life you've led, since even
The slightest twist of your will
Is nature's way. But to me,
If I fail to escape
Loathsome old age--
When these eyes will mean nothing
To any other heart, the world be nothing
But a blank to them,
Each day more desolate, every day
Darker than the one before--what then
Will this longing for solitude
Seem like to me? What then
Will these years, or even I myself,
Seem to have been? Alas,
I'll be sick with regret, and over and over,
But inconsolable, looking back.
"[Leopardi's] contribution to 19th-century European poetry second only to Baudelaire's . . . there's plenty to be grateful for in this lucidly translated selection. . . "--Boston Review
Top Customer Reviews
Not being able to review this edition, should I be so silly to give "stars" to Leopardi himself? In fact, it would be rather silly of me to attempt, here, in a few lines, a short literary criticism of the work of one of the greatest poets in Italian language as well as a giant of human thought. Libraries can be filled with books on this enfant prodige, who as a child would toy with greek, latin and hebrew philology, write tragedies, essays on theology, histories of astronomy - as Italo Calvino puts it, when he writes a poem on the moon, Leopardi knows precisely well what he is talking about - or could forge a Callimachus and fool the world authorities on ancient greek literature. His Zibaldone di Pensieri ("Eggnog of thoughts") anticipates contemporary philosophy from Schopenhauer to Nietzsche to Heidegger - indeed it anticipates the contemporary age; his entire work is like a big bang, and contains in nuce future existentialism, nihilism, ontology. So, I will just rant a little about what of Leopardi speaks to me personally.
Men are not created equal. I hold this truth to be self evident. So did Leopardi. He knew he was not one of the "greggia", not on of the sheep he envied. Some of us are different, as he tells us. There are people that can experience in advance what our kind will explore in the future centuries. And most of them burn, like fuses burn. We watch them fall with an admixture of admiration, horror and awe - as the tragic chorus watches Oedipus.
That is why I do not believe that "Cosmic Pessimism" is a good label for Leopardi.Read more ›