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Thoughts (Hesperus Classics) Paperback – August 1, 2002

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Reading groups would find so much to discuss, smile about and argue about. -- NewBOOK.mag

From the Publisher

Hesperus Press, as suggested by their Latin motto, Et remotissima prope, is dedicated to bringing near what is far—far both in space and time. Works by illustrious authors, often unjustly neglected or simply little known in the English–speaking world, are made accessible through a completely fresh editorial approach or new translations. Through these short classic works, which feature forewords by leading contemporary authors, the modern reader will be introduced to the greatest writers of Europe and America. An elegantly designed series of exceptional books.
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Product Details

  • Series: Hesperus Classics
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Hesperus Press; New edition edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843910128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843910121
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,941,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Leopardi's _Thoughts_ (Pensieri) combines the aphoristic style of Pascal and other French moralists with the pessimistic world-view that inspired Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and other 19th century readers of his work. Leopardi in Italy occupies a place equivalent to Emerson in the US: read by every schoolchild and understood by almost none of them, yet still taken as emblematic of the national spirit. His pessimism may be absolute but it is also intensely spirited and does point towards resignation but rather towards exhiliartion. Everyone should read this book, along with his other work of prose, the _Moral Essays_.
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I discovered this long ago -- quite by accident -- deep in my college library and have always wanted to own a copy. It's the reflections of an Italian poet who lived around the time of Byron.

The dude was bleak. You thought Marcus Aurelius was bad? These are some of the most depressing little apercus you're ever gonna read.

Here's a sample of his irremediable blackness:

"Man is condemned either to consume his youth (which is the only time to store up fruit for the years to come and make provision for himself) without a purpose, or to waste it in procuring enjoyments for that part of his life in which he will no longer be capable of enjoyment." (p. 37)

In fact, this volume, consisting mainly of one such reflection after another, is so bleak it's almost comic. But, as Housman's Mithridates discovered, it can be salubrious in small doses.

The author's oft-anthologized poem, "The Broom," brings up the rear of this slim volume.

It may interest you to know that Leopardi, at least according to his blurb in "The Norton Anthology of Western Literature," is said to have studied so assiduously that he morphed into a nearly-blind hunchback (hence his gloom), eventually dying of despair.

This has long made me wonder if it really is medically possible not merely to study so much that you become a hunchback, but to actually die of despair. Sounds like his doctors were more familiar with poetry than they were with simple physiology.
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