CHAPTER XVIII. THE EIGHTEENTH AND NINETEENTH CENTURIES: ITALY
Poets: Metastasio, Goldoni, Alfieri, Monti, Leopardi. Prose Writers: Silvio Pellico, Fogazzaro, etc.
LITERARY AWAKENING.—After a long decadence, Italy, less overwhelmed politically than previously, reawoke about 1750. Once more poets came forward: Metastasio, author of tragedies and operas; Goldoni, a very witty and gay comic poet; Alfieri who revived Italian tragedy, which had been languishing and silent since Maffei, and who, like Voltaire in France, and with greater success, established a philosophical and political tribune; Foscolo, sufficiently feeble in tragedy but very touching and eloquent in The Tombs, inspired by Young's Night Thoughts and The Letters of Jacob Ortis, an interesting novelist and eloquently impassioned patriot; Monti, versatile and master of all recantations according to his own interests, but a very pure writer and not without brilliance in his highly diversified poems.
EMINENT PROSE WRITERS.—Italy could show eminent prose writers, such as those jurisprudent philanthropists Filangieri and Beccaria; critics and literary historians like Tiraboschi.
NINETEENTH CENTURY.—In the nineteenth century may first be found among poets that great poet, the unhappy Leopardi, the bard of suffering, of sorrow, and of despair; Carducci, a brilliant orator, imbued with vigorous passions; Manzoni, lyricist, dramatist, vibrating with patriotic enthusiasm, affecting in his novel The Betrothal, which became popular in every country in Europe. In prose, Silvio Pellico equally moved Europe to tears by his book My Prisons, wherein he narrated the experiences of his nine years of captivity at the hands of Austria, and found his agreeable tragedy of Francesca da Riminiwelcomed with flattering appreciation. Philosophy was specially represented by Gioberti, author of The Treatise on the Supernatural, and journalism by Giordani, eloquent, at times with grace and ease, and at others with harshness and violence.
THE MODERNS.—As these words were written came the news of the death of the illustrious novelist Fogazzaro. Gabriel d'Annunzio, poet and ultra-romantic novelist, and Mathilde Serao, an original novelist, pursue their illustrious careers.