|Born||Giosuè Alessandro Giuseppe Carducci
27 July 1835
Valdicastello di Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy
|Died||16 February 1907
|Notable award(s)||Nobel Prize in Literature
Giosuè Alessandro Giuseppe Carducci (Italian: [dʒozuˈɛ karˈduttʃi]; 27 July 1835 – 16 February 1907) was an Italian poet and teacher. He was very influential 1 and was regarded as the official national poet of modern Italy.2 In 1906 he became the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
He was born in Valdicastello (part of Pietrasanta), a small town in the Province of Lucca in the northwest corner of the region of Tuscany. His father, a doctor, was an advocate of the unification of Italy and was involved with the Carbonari. Because of his politics, the family was forced to move several times during Carducci's childhood, eventually settling for a few years in Florence.
From the time he was in college, he was fascinated with the restrained style of Greek and Roman antiquity, and his mature work reflects a restrained classical style, often using the classical meters of such Latin poets as Horace and Virgil. He translated Book 9 of Homer's Iliad into Italian.
He graduated in 1856 from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and began teaching school. The following year, he published his first collection of poems, Rime. These were difficult years for Carducci: his father died, and his brother committed suicide.
In 1859, he married Elvira Menicucci, and they had four children. He briefly taught Greek at a high school in Pistoia, and then was appointed Italian professor at the university in Bologna. Here, one of his students was Giovanni Pascoli, who became a poet himself and later succeeded him at the university.
Carducci was a popular lecturer and a fierce critic of literature and society. He was an atheist,3 whose political views were consistently opposed to Christianity generally and the secular power of the Catholic Church in particular.
I know neither truth of God nor peace with the Vatican or any priests. They are the real and unaltering enemies of Italy.
he said in his later years.4
This anti-clerical revolutionary zeal is prominently showcased in one famous poem, the deliberately blasphemous and provocative "Inno a Satana" (or "Hymn to Satan".) The poem was composed in 1863 as a dinner party toast, published in 1865, then republished in 1869 by Bologna's radical newspaper, Il Popolo, as a provocation timed to coincide with the 20th Vatican Ecumenical Council, a time when revolutionary fervor directed against the papacy was running high as republicans pressed both politically and militarily for an end of the Vatican’s domination over the papal states.5
In 1890 he met future writer and poet Annie Vivanti, with whom he started a love affair. Carlo Emilio Gadda reported that "Carducci used to travel with a suitcase in which he kept a huge pair of Annie Vivanti's panties... every once in a while, he opened the suitcase, took out the panties, sniffed them and got intoxicated from them."67 In 2004, the uncensored letters between her and Carducci were published.68
While "Inno a Satana" had quite a revolutionary impact, Carducci's finest poetry came in later years. His collections Rime Nuove (New Rhymes) and Odi Barbare (Barbarian Odes) contain his greatest works.9
He was the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1906. He was also elected a Senator of Italy.10 Although his reputation rests primarily on his poetry, he also produced a large body of prose works.11 Indeed, his prose writings, including literary criticism, biographies, speeches and essays, fill some 20 volumes.12 Carducci was also an excellent translator and translated some of Goethe and Heine into Italian.
He died in Bologna at the age of 71.
- Baldi, Giusso, Razetti, Zaccaria, Dal testo alla storia. Dalla storia al testo, Torino, 2001, vol. 3/1B, p. 778: "Partecipò intensamente alla vita culturale del tempo e ... sostenne infinite polemiche letterarie e politiche".
- Giulio Ferroni, Profilo storico della letteratura italiana, Torino, 1992, p. 780: "Si trasforma in poeta ufficiale dell'Italia umbertina".
- Biagini, Mario, Giosuè Carducci, Mursia, 1976, p. 208.
- Carelle, A., Naturalismo Italiano, Draghi, Padova 1911, cited at http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/joseph_mccabe/dictionary.html
- Carducci, Giosuè, Selected Verse/ Giosuè Carducci: edited with a translation, introduction and commentary by David H. Higgins, (Aris & Phillips; Warminster, England), 1994. See also: Bailey, John Cann, Carducci The Taylorian Lecture (Clarendon Press, Oxford) 1926.
- Annie e l' Orco: storie d' amore e cinismo, Corriere.it, 2005 quotation:
...immagine ribadita e documentata l' anno scorso con l' uscita da Feltrinelli di Addio caro Orco : il carteggio integrale tra i due, senza tagli e censure moralistiche dell' edizione di Pietro Pancrazi ( 1951) che aveva acquistato lettere e diari dalla vedova del poeta.
- Cattaneo, Giulio (1991) Il gran lombardo p.40 quotation:
Carducci viaggiava con una valigia dove era un paio di enormi mutande di Annie Vivanti, con giri di merletti e svoli a insalata. Ogni tanto apriva la valigia, tirava fuori le mutande, le annusava e se ne inebriava. Questo è feticismo
- Addio caro Orco (2004), published by Feltrinelli
- One prominent English translation is The Barbarian Odes of Giosuè Carducci, translated from the Italian by William Fletcher Smith, (Manasha, Wisconsin: George Banta Publishing Co., 1939). The translation is reviewed in Dismukes, William Paul (March 1940). "The Barbarian Odes of Giosuè Carducci by William Fletcher Smith". Italica 17 (1): 29–30.
- Scalia, Samuel Eugene (1937). Carducci. New York: S.F. Vanni.
- Tomasin, Lorenzo (2007). "Classica e odierna". Studi sulla lingua di Carducci. Florence: Olschki.
- Selections from Carducci; Prose and Poetry with introduction, notes and vocabulary by A. Marinoni. New York: William R. Jenkins. 1913. vii–ix.
- Nobel Prize Biography page
- Carducci: all the poems
- Giosuè Carducci: 19th century poet, statesman and satanist
- Giosuè Carducci poems Original Italian text