Selected essays [of] Eugenio Montale

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Carcanet New Press, 1978 - Literary Criticism - 216 pages
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Contents

Dante Today and Yesterday
9
BoccaccioA Preface to the Seventh Day of the Decameron OywJ
24
Italo Svevo
29
Copyright

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About the author (1978)

Born in Genoa and largely self-educated, Eugenio Montale was an infantry officer in World War I and then became a spectator, rather than an activist, during the 20 years of fascism, when he wrote some of his best poetry. He lived in Genoa for his first 30 years, where he started his career as a journalist, and then moved to Florence. There he worked first for a publishing house and then as a reference librarian. Finally, after World War II, he settled down in Milan as literary and music critic and special correspondent for Italy's leading newspaper, Il corriere della sera. Montale was much influenced by his readings in Russian, French, and Spanish, as well as by Italian authors, and more particularly by his reading and translating of English and American writers such as Shakespeare, Hopkins, Hardy, Eliot, Melville, Twain, Faulkner, and O'Neill. As a poet under the influence of Giuseppe Ungaretti, he broke with the traditional poetic style, steeped in formal eloquence, and took the advice of Salvatore Quasimodo to write poetry in a style stripped of ornaments so as to allow words to recall their "pristine, evocative meaning." His chief books of poems and essays include Cuttlefish Bones (1925), Occasions (1939), The Storm and Other Things (1956), and Diary of 1971 and 1972 (1973). When he received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1975, he was hailed as the greatest Italian poet of the twentieth century. His poetry is basically "negative" in spirit, unlike Ungaretti's, which is that of a "Christian poet of sorrow." Yet there is a musicality in the best of Montale's verse that recalls and often matches the hauntingly evocative lyricism of Leopardi. He died in Milan in 1981. In 1996, a work appeared called Posthumous Diary (Diario postumo) that purported to have been 'constructed' by Montale before his death with the help of the young poet Annalisa Cima. Critical reaction at first varied, with some believing that Cima had forged the collection outright, though now the work is generally considered authentic.

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