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Giacomo Leopardi

essayist , philologist , philosopher , poet

Giacomo Leopardi was an Italian notable poet, philosopher, scholar, essayist, philologist and moralist. His life was full of tragedies due to which his works are often imbued with pessimism. Though Leopardi did not get the recognition he deserved in his lifetime, he was later declared the greatest Italian poet of the nineteenth century.

Background

Giacomo Leopardi was born into a family of a noble aristocrat Count Monaldo Leopardi on June 29, 1798 in Recanati, a small village in Italy. Since childhood Giacomo had bed health and had to study at home. His father was interested in philosophy, politics and literature and owned a personal library with books on these subjects. He was keen on providing his son the best education. It is for this reason Giacomo had expensive private tutors and was learnt Latin, Greek, English, French, and Spanish.

Giacomo hated his home village and made several attempts to leave. He left Recanati for Rome, but as he couldn’t find job because of his physical disabilities, he had to come back home. Throughout his life, Leopardi struggled to support himself financially through writing but poverty forced him to depend on his friends. During all his life Giacomo suffered, his heart was broken, he was in depression and his health was declining. He died of a heart failure in 1837.

Career

In his early writing years, Leopardi worked as translator. He translated texts of classical works such as Horace and Moschus, and sections of the Odyssey.

He wrote his first story at the age of 14, it was called "Pompeo in Egitto" ("Pompey in Egypt").

Leopardi’s most legendary "Pensieri di varia filosofia e di bella letteratura" (Zibaldone), a notebook based on seven volumes was written during 1817 and 1830s but was published only during 1898-1900. This brilliant work represents the philosophical face of Leopardi. It also reflects his pessimistic outlook on life.

Works

  • Pompeo in Egitto (Pompey in Egypt)

  • Storia dell'Astronomia (History of Astronomy)

  • Saggio sopra gli errori popolari degli antichi (Essay on the popular errors of the ancients)

  • Orazione agli Italiani in Occasione della Liberazione del Piceno (Oration to the Italians on the liberation of Piceno)

  • All works