Imagens das páginas

notably Eliodoro Lombardi, Ragusa Moleti, and Ugo Ojetti; in a work of unusual sobriety and distinction by D'Annunzio, namely his "Elegie Romane"; and, above all, in the appearance of that remarkable book "Fatalità," by Ada Negri, with its cry of the dumb and the poor, of the inarticulate suffering of labor, of the vaguely insurgent multitude, of the angry clang (to use the poet's own words) of the enchained masses striking into the silver flutes of those in high places.


Then again the ebbing wave. monotonous months of the next year or two are relieved by only one newcomer of promise, Alfredo Baccelli, with "Vittime e Ribelli."" Even Carducci, Rapisardi, and D'Annunzio fail respectively in "Il Cadore," "Atlantide," and "Odi Navale." The subsequent period would be a blank but for the modest appearance of three young writers of promise, the Sicilian Cesareo, the Roman Diego Angeli, the Lombard Antonio della Porta. It must be admitted that the outlook to-day is not more encouraging than it was a decade ago; perhaps less so, since Carducci is now all but silent, and the mature writers of the younger group, with the exception of Giovanni Pas

coli, reveal no advance upon what they achieved before 1890. It has been pre-eminently the period of D'Annunzio and the D'Annunzieggianti," though the fame of this writer is perhaps greater throughout the continent than in the peninsula, where he is still looked upon somewhat askance, as a clever but audacious and refractory ward is looked upon by an anxious guardian. With justice, too, the Italfans resent the frequent assertion abroad that Gabriele D'Annunzio stands alone as representative of the Intellectual Italy of to-day, as with

Signor Baccelli is now Under-Secretary of State, and, in his two spheres of influence, one

justice the Belgians resent the like common assertion in connection with Maurice Maeterlinck.

Within the last three or four years there have been signs of the returning tide. The low-water mark was probably touched in 1897-8, a period barren of any signal literary achievement. True, the much discussed poetess, Ada Negri, published her fine volume of drab-colored verse, "Tempeste"-a lyrical series which reveals, however, no advance upon "Fatalità," while all that stood for weakness in that remarkable first book by an Italian woman in humble life is notably emphasized. It would be unfair to say that this slack period was absolutely barren, for both in the verse and prose which deserved critical attention were one or two instances of fine work accomplished, and at least two or three of promise. But, as an able critic, Vicenzo Morello, has said,

these fragile blossoms of song appear one day and disappear the next in that blighting wind of indifference which has so long prevailed from the Alps of the north to the slopes of Etna. ("Nell' Arte e nella Vita.”)

Nevertheless, there is evident an awakening of public interest in national literature, probably in some degree because of the "commemorations" celebrated near the close of the century, with their stirring historical reminiscences and inspiring literary associations-Amerigo Vespucci, Paolo Toscanelli, Savonarola, Leopardi, Bernini, and others. From the standpoint of letters the period is notable for the immense stride in Italian and European reputation made by one writer, Gabriele D'Annunzio. In one year, in the twelvemonth comprising the otherwise somewhat barren period 1898-9, this writer's amazing output included

of the outstanding personalities of the younger generation.

the three long dramas published in book form, "La Città Morta," "La Gioconda," and "La Gloria," and the two shorter dramas separately issued as the "Sogno d'un Mattino di Primavera" and the "Sogno d'un Tramonto d'Autunno." 998 "La Gioconda" and "La Città Morta" have been read and discussed throughout Europe; and the former has been acted in London and Paris as well as in the chief Italian cities. "La Gloria," D'Annunzio's most ambitious dramatic attempt, was unsuccessful on the stage; and, though some of the leading Italian critics spoke of this strange, not to say somewhat enigmatic play with high praise, their appreciation was never endorsed by that of the public. Already known as a poet and novelist, D'Annunzio had now challenged criticism as a dramatist. But while radical differences of opinion exist as to the significance and value of his achievement in this direction, there can surely be little question as to the wealth of imaginative energy and the continual miracle of art poured forth in these dramas, most notably perhaps in that sombre and terrible play of the buried city, which (with one or two exceptions) has been so inadequately considered by English critics; or in "La Gioconda," of which an eminent Italian critic, Guido Biagi, has aptly said, "In any case 'La Gioconda' has brought into the theatre a breath of fresh and fragrant poetry, which might have come from the blossoming gardens of the Renaissance"; or in that masterpiece of poignant beauty, the "Dream of a Spring Morning," where, in combined loveliness and terror, we find something akin to that Elizabethan magic we prize so highly

The first and third of a dramatic quartet called "I Sogni delle Stagioni" (Dreams of the Four Seasons), of which the "Sogno d'un Merigglo d'Estate" and "Sogno d'una Notte d'Inverno" are as yet unpublished.

in Webster, in Ford, in Beaumont and Fletcher.

We cannot in this article further discuss D'Annunzio's achievement in imaginative drama, nor his work in this respect as compared with that of Arrigo Boito, Felice Cavallotti, Severino Ferrari, Cossa, and above all Giuseppe Giacosa. But the drift of the most authoritative opinion, foreign and native, is that D'Annunzio has revealed no compelling genius, perhaps not even a genuine talent, for the drama, except as a form of literary expression. All the faults and shortcomings of this perplexing writer are of a nature to render nugatory his ambition to become "the Wagner of the drama." His latest effort, "Francesca da Rimini," has signally failed on the stage; but its beauty and charm, and above all its vividness, are brought out by perusal in book form. The drama, moreover, should be read as the first of the "Malatesta" trilogy. The author has practically finished the second of the series, "Parisina"; and is now at work upon the third, "Sigis. mundo Malatesta."

The close of the nineteenth and the dawn of the twentieth century were not wholly engrossed by "the Deputy for Beauty"-to adopt M. de Vogüé's phrase and the D'Annunzieggianti,“ though his fame was enhanced by the furore which followed the publication of "Il Fuoco"; by the announcement of the long-expected volume of mature verse, "Laudi del Cielo, del Mare, della Terra, e degli Eroi," and of the forthcoming "Francesca da Rimini"; by the public readings and actual publication of the first instalment of the lyrical epic, "La Canzone di Garibaldi." An important new book, besides a volume

Notably Domenico Tumiati, Antonio della Porta, Angelo Orvieto, Diego Angell, Angelo Conti.

of notable essays and addresses, by Antonio Fogazzaro; "Poemetti," a secoud collection of lovely verse by Giovanni Pascoli, whose "Myrica" contains some of the most charming of contemporary Italian poetry, and whose idyllic muse has gained him the title, "il Virgilio di nostro tempo"; Vittoria Aganoor's "Leggenda Eterna"; the exquisitely chiselled "Primavera Fiorentina" of Severino Ferrari, of some of whose earlier work Carducci wrote, "If Petrarch were among us to-day he would be proud of this"; Arrigo Boito's much discussed "Nerone"; Arturo Graf's "Morgana"; the brilliant colloquial sonnet-sequence of Cesare Pascarella; the new edition of the "Musica antica per Chitarra" of Domenico Tumiati, foremost of the "Symbolists"; the recently published "Verso l'Oriente" of Angelo Orvieto, the young author of "Sposa Mistica”— these, and others whom it would be wearisome to enumerate, suffice to show both the vitality and variety of the new "Risorgimento." Perhaps the most significant indication of the existence of an Italian public really interested in imaginative literature is the publication, in a single volume at a moderate price, of all the poetry of Carducci; and the fact that this (for an Italian publisher) daring venture bas achieved a wide success. But the true hope is here that all Young Italy reproves despondency, and looks forward with courage and determination. It believes in itself, in its national vocation, in the national destiny; it maintains the survival, within itself, of the ancient spirit of the ancient genius. "It sleeps, that antique spirit," wrote Carducci many years ago, "it sleeps, but is not dead; and as a sleeper wakes, so shall it wake, and to a new day."

When, some pages back, we spoke of the three chief deterrent influences working on the intellectual and spirit

ual life of the nation, we might have added that in yet another vital respect the writers of Italy are seriously affected. In no other European country, with the possible exception of Spain, is there so marked a divergence between the language of letters and the language of common use, between literary and colloquial speech. The "reading-public" in Italy is amazingly small in relation to the population, if we compare it with that of France, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, Great Britain. But the ordinary speech of this relatively small reading-public is quite as distinct from literary diction as is, let us say, the vernacular of London or New York from the ornate periods of Johnson, Gibbon, or Macaulay; and, moreover, it has not even the vital connection which, in English, underlies the obvious divergence. No wonder that Carducci, the most polished living master of Italian, is all but incomprehensible to many of his intelligent compatriots, who find even Antonio Fogazzaro and Emilio De Marchi, Giovanni Verga and Matilde Serao (the most vernacular of the eminent writers of the day) using a diction which in private life would seem alien, if not wholly artificial. For Italy is above all others the country of dialectical speech. That this barrier is being overcome, and that the directed efforts of the ablest writers and educationalists concur with the slow but steady improvement of the mental training of the masses (i.e. of all classes, from the professional to the poorest, even in densely ignorant Calabria and remote Sicily), affords promise that a truly great national literature will in due time arise in Italy. Fortunately there has always been the connecting bridge of "popular literature"-i.e. the colloquial and dialectical local poetry in which Italy has ever been so rich.

Like so many others of his country

men now writing circumspectly of the problems, the developments, and the collective movement of Italian literature, the late Ruggero Bonghi (whom we specify as a representative critic) did not realize that the so-called "pagan" or "barbaric" movement headed by Carducci was, and is, one of those inevitable life-seeking movements which periodically occur in every literature, when old ways have become outworn; or, again, that a regenerative movement of this kind may have to turn backward in order to rediscover the forward way. A large part, possibly the greater and the more vital part, of contemporary Italian literature turns thus upon an apparently retrograde way, turns upon what is I called the classical revival. The famous veteran at Bologna is its accepted leader. But neither Carducci nor his adherents (who now comprise nearly all the younger writers of note) attempt a revival of the kind so often imputed. It is not mere imitation of the past that is the end in view, but, by discreetly following the same avenues of art as those by which the great poets of old reached their goal, to reach in turn the same or a still higher goal. To this end it was necessary to break away from the conventions which had so hampered, not to say devitalized, modern Italian literature. It was not thought or inspiration only that had to grow new wings; not poetry only, but metre itself had to shed its old chrysalis and break into a new life.

In every new intellectual movement the feature of exaggeration is inevitable; without exaggeration no new energy is likely to force its way. It was long, and to some extent still is, the wont in Italy to impute to Carducci an almost perverse exaggeration, not only as to his intellectual standpoint (that of a modern man consistently looking backward), or as to his

lifelong effort to recreate in the Italian vernacular the dignity and beauty of the vernacular of Horace and Catullus, but as to wilful obscurity in point of metrical diction. The obscurity of Carducci is not that of congested thought and crowded images, as in Browning; nor that of the dazzle of continual byplay, as in George Meredith; nor again that of careful and calculated occultism, as in Mallarmé. It is rather the "obscurity" of extreme light, such as that which the earliest critics of Leconte de Lisle, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Baudelaire and Hérédia, found in the classically pure diction of those writers. Carducci has little in common with writers like Mallarmé, with whom he is often ignorantly compared. He is rather the Italian confrère of Leconte de Lisle, of José Maria Hérédia, but is more "human," more of his day and hour, than the supreme French classicist in verse, and has a spiritual earnestness alien to the cold beauty of M. Hérédia's "perfected ivory." At the same time it cannot be denied that, both in remote allusion and in calculated Latinity of diction, he is occasionally pedantic; and it would be easy to cull from his writings lines and even quatrains or passages which would justify the complaint frequently heard in Italy that "Carducci is difficult, often even unintelligible." Then, too, his Italian is so far from colloquial that even when clear to a compatriot it is difficult to render adequately in English, for sometimes the difference is a constitutional difference of racial genius as well as of speech, as, to choose at random an instance, the final quatrain of the lovely poem, "Su Monte Mario":

Su le rovine de la basilica
Di Zeno al sole sibili il colubro,
Ancor canterai nel deserto
I tedi insonni de l'infinito.

But these occasional defects are mere

specks on the polished mirror of Carducci's poetry, at once so beautiful, so distinguished, so antique, so modern, the only poetry of to-day which can be compared with that of Leconte de Lisle and Alfred de Vigny, with that of the poet's greater predecessors, above all with that of his chosen master, Catullus. Every great poet is in a sense a metrical inventor; and, with the exception of Mr. Swinburne, there is no living master of metre, particularly of classical metres, comparable with Giosuè Carducci. In a word, it is not by their exaggerations that we are to judge Carducci and the writers who follow his lead, or the intellectual fellowships typified by Antonio Fogazzaro, Arturo Graf, Ada Negri, Giovanni Pascoli, or Gabriele D'Annunzio and the D'Annunzieggianti. All these have to be judged by their range of thought, the object of their aim, and their actual achievement.

The student of Italian literature, therefore, will do well to put aside as irrelevant nearly all that he reads or hears as to the "pseudo-classicism" of Carducci and the rest who participate in that vital movement at the head of which he stands. For it is a movement of life, not of an artificially stimulated erudition; a movement of fresh energy, not a spurred effort. It is in truth part of a "movement," of an uplifted life that is not confined to this or that leader and his following, nor to Italy, nor even to the Latin countries, but is co-extensive with the human mind, Already, we perceive, Italy has left behind the conditions indicated by Lamartine in a once notorious passage of the "Pèlerinage d'Harold," where she is alluded to as Poussière du passé, qu'un vent stérile agite,

a phrase which, with the added "Je vais chercher ailleurs . . . des hommes et non pas de la poussière hu

maine," brought the French poet a "cartel" from an indignant Italian patriot, the once celebrated General Pepe.

In a broad classification, then, as already indicated, Antonio Fogazzarą and Arturo Graf stand for the North, Giosuè Carducci and Giovannį Pascoli for the Centre (and this not only in the geographical sense), and Gabriele D'Annunzio for the South, as well as for that neo-paganism, neoHellenism, and very modern (and, we may add, world-old) hedonism which too often is the dignified verbal raiment of a very unworthy thing, gen erally more crudely designated.

Although Fogazzaro and Graf are the most distinctive of the northerners, they differ materially. The elder and more famous is the François Millet of Italian literature, but a Millet of a far wider intellectual and æsthetic range than the great Frenchman. The pathos and dignity of suffering, of sorrow, of the heavy burden bravely borne; the nobility of faith and courage; the beauty of simplicity. in life and art; the charm of tenderness and the sustaining power of love -these are the sources of this writer's genius, both in prose and verse. But, pure as is his Italian, virile and idiomatic, the color of his mind is distinctively northern, Teutonic. So might a Scandinavian, an Englishman, a German, write, were he equally gifted, and were he an adopted Italian, settled in that northern Alpine region of the. lakes, so well loved, sung, and praised by Fogazzaro. That gentle but allpervading melancholy of his, too—so. different from the disdainful stoicism of Carducci, the baffled despair of writers such as Ada Negri, the lifeweariness of Graf, the ennui of D'Annunzio, the hard pessimism of Rapisardi and Verga-is likewise northern. But it would be a mistake to think of Fogazzaro as a sentimentalist, not

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