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Leopardi

giacomo, italian, naples and poetic

LEOPARDI, Giacomo, Comm Italian scholar and poet: b. Recanati, in the marshes of Ancona, 29 June 1798; d. Naples, 15 June 1837. He devoted himself from an early age to study in the fine library of his father, and when he readied his 15th year was master of Latin and Greek, and had soon read most of the literary masterpieces of antiquity. In 1815 his translation of Porphyry's 'Life of Plotinus> was followed by his 'Saggio sopra gli Errori degli Antichi.' He was of profound poetic genius and mourned over the degraded political condition of his native land, a feeling which found utterance in his magnificent 'Ode to Italy,' a poem which proclaimed him the first of modern Italian singers. In 1822 he went to Rome and attracted the attention of Ndebuhr by his criticism of a new edition of the con of Eusebius' ; and the great historian at tempted in vain to settle him as professor in the University of Berlin. Leopardi was broken in health, as well as in spirit, and his unhappi ness was intensified byan unhappy love affair. Bunsen offered him such a professorship, and it was declined. He left Rome to travel in Italy, his tour embracing many of the great northern cities, and ending with Naples. He developed the most absolute skepticism, and the unhappiness of his lot made him a pessimist. His sight failed, and he was forbidden to take up a book, and though he was a linguist of rare accomplishments, wrote in Greek and Latin with equal ease, had mastered French, Spanish and English, he could apply his attainments to no practical end. His classic training had, how

ever, given him a power and precision in the use of his native tongue, which was unprece dented in his day. His early lyrics were written between 1816 and 1824, and are distinguished for lucidity, genuine feeling and brilliant com mand of metre and rhyme. His most famous poem, however, is 'La Ginestra' (1836), in which he gives full expression to his hopeless creed; and of his poetic productions some 39 remain to this day the .finest and most imperish able utterances of the Italian lyre. His other works include translations and critical treatises, and after his death were published his prose works, a miscellany of peculiar interest. His 'Epistolario,' a collection of his letters, records in the most intimate manner his personal life. Consult Autard, 'Essay sur les Idees philoso phiques et l'inspiration poetique de Giacomo Leopardi' (1877) ; Ranieri, anni di so dalizio con Giacomo Leopardi' (1880); Cap pelletti, (Bibliographia Leopardiana' (1882); Ceaseo, ricerche su Giacomo Leopardi' (1893), and