Literature

NAPLES AND NATIONAL LITERATURE

Among the men who cared about Italy we find Luigi Settembrini, a young man studying in the school of Basilio Puoti – founded in 1825 – as a language purist he tried to work about the Italian language, as he was convinced that having a common language could mean the construction of a common political and cultural identity.

On November 6th, 1863 he was appointed Senator. Between 1866 – 1872 three volumes of his work “Lessons about Italian Literature” were published.

After his task in writing about Italian literature, Settembrini was strongly engaged with the writing of his important work “Memories of my Life”, published after his death by Francesco De Sanctis. This work is divided in two parts: the first one reaching till 1848, and a second one collecting his notes during the years 1849-1859. His others works were published in a single volume, after his death: “Different writings about politics, literature and art”, and “The Epistolary”, respectively in 1879 and 1883, “Dialogues” and “Unpublished works” in 1909. Among some of his others works we remind “The praise of Marquis Basilio Puoti” in 1847.

Intellectuals in the “Kingdom of two Sicilies” were very influential in the national debate, and they pushed public opinion in order to overcome the image of a kingdom only characterized by natural amenities or of a paradise inhabited by devils.

Basilio Puoti was supported by Manzoni and the two men worked at the creation and distribution of the first grammars for the Italian language. Puoti reminds about two great critics: Leopoldo Rodinò and Francesco De Sanctis. In 1839 De Sanctis started giving his lessons in Vico Bisi, the actual Via Nilo, and thereafter in the Military School at Via S.Giovanni a Carbonara. In 1848 his liberal thoughts led him to be arrested and sentenced to three years in prison in the Castel dell’Ovo.

He entered the provisional Government of Garibaldi and during the post-unification period he was Minister of Public Education. He worked intensely and fought against the first injustice and corruption forms.

He died on December 29th, 1883 and his body was embalmed, but it was buried only nine years later in a Chapel in the Naples cemetery. In 1892 his grave was reconstructed with a marble bust and in the same year the Naples Municipality ordered the realization of a monument to commemorate his death. Only later many other gravestones and monuments were built all over Italy.

targa de sanctis

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LEOPARDI IN NAPLES

Giacomo Leopardi stayed in Naples from 1833 to 1837, not only because of his health needs but also because of his great friendship with Antonio Ranieri. Already in 1827-1828 in Florence Leopardi tasted the pleasure of  “Neapolitan conversation” thanks to his visiting some  Naples artists.

In Florence, Alessandro Poerio  introduced Leopardi to Antonio Ranieri. Between the two young men a great friendship developed which brought them to spend  five months together in Rome  in 1830. In 1832 Ranieri went back to Naples, his birth place, and between the two men a frequent correspondence started.

On october 2nd 1832  Leopardi reached  Ranieri in Naples hoping the mild climate in town would be positive for his health. Both lived in Via San Mattia n° 88 on the second floor  of Palace Berio near San Ferdinando Square.

During the days following his arrival, Leopardi wrote e short letter to his father:  “… I arrived here luckily, namely without damage and misfortune. My health furthermore isn’t a big deal and my eyes are always in  the same state. The climate mildness, the town amenities and the lovable,  good hearted  character of the citizens give me a pleasant feeling.” Such an enthusiasm came soon to an end because of the not quite idyllic relations with the neapolitan intellectuals, who didn’t loose any occasion to mock him and call him “o’ ranavuottolo” (a little frog) each time when they saw him sitting at the table in  coffee shop “Two Sicilies” regularly visited by Leopardi.

Two months later Leopardi and Ranieri moved to Via S. Maria Ogni Bene n°35, in  district Vomero  where the best air in Naples could be breathed. On the eve of the house moving  his “Operette morali” (Moral Works) were confiscated.

During the years spent in Naples, Leopardi busied himself with the writing of his “Pensieri” (Thoughts), but shortly  Leopardi’s  health conditions got worse  and, when in Naples  a cholera epidemic exploded, Leopardi moved with Ranieri to the Villa Ferrigni in Torre del Greco, where he stayed from  summer in that year till February 1837. During his  Vesuvian  stay Leopardi worked about his poem “The broom or desert flower”, one of his most famous  lyrics, where he expresses  his  clinging to life and and judges nature a tyrant.

In 1837 he went back to Naples with Ranieri, but his health conditions got worse and on June 14th in that year he suddenly died, after feeling sick at the end of a meal.

According to the witness of Antonio Ranieri, Leopardi died at 9 p.m. in Antonio’s  arms and his last words were: “Farewell, Totonno, I don’t see light any longer”. Thereafter Ranieri published an  add about Leopard’s death on  the newspaper  “Il Progresso”.

Leopardi died in the age of 39 years, at a time when cholera was hitting Naples downtown.

Giacomo Leopardi morente

Thanks to Ranieri who involved the Police Minister, Leopardi’s  corpse was not thrown in a common grave, as requested by the severe laws at cholera time, but buried in the hall at San Vitale Church in Fuorigrotta.

In 1939  his remains were moved to the Virgil Park in Piedigrotta – named Park of the Virgil tomb,  in the district Mergellina, and the place was declared a national monument.

Lapide sepolcrale di Giacomo Leopardi

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NAPLES – THE REVOLUTION IN 1799-1800.

The myth of Naples revolution marked a great part of the nineteenth and twentieth century culture.

Among the first papers we find “A Historical Essay about the Naples Revolution of 1799” by Vincenzo Cuoco showing a great self critical behavior. It is the first large work with historical patriotic character, a tale about passion and ideality which history didn’t prize with the deserved success.

A remarkable work is Francesco Lomanoco’s “Report to the citizen Carnot”, an essay reporting the repression started by Ferdinand IV and inviting patriots to put away the King from the political scene.

– Lomonaco took part in the Partenopean Republic, succeeding to escape from the Bourbon repression he was a refugee in France. He died suicide in 1810.

The Partenopean Revolution rumors influenced and impressed even some authors far from Naples.

Ugo Foscolo in his “Comments about Naples History” is dealing with the tragic revolution events, making the French Executive responsible for the republican defeat, being guilty for exploitation politics towards the Neapolitan people. Further Foscolo underlines the importance of Lady Hamilton on Admiral Nelson and draws the attention to the revolution martyrs’ heroic actions.

Among the revolution martyrs we find Eleonora Pimentel Fonseca and Luisa Sanfelice. Eleonora Pimentel Fonseca was the director of the newspaper “Monitore Napoletano”, her verdict of guilty was requested by Mary Caroline of Austria, Ferdinand I’s wife because of her papers against the Monarchs.

Dumas in his ” From Naples to Rome” tells about Luisa Sanfelice describing her as one of the Neapolitan revolution heroes. It’s a collection of individual biographies about men and women who gave up their lives for freedom, dealing with the key places of revolution, like Piazza Mercato which was the execution place for L. Sanfelice and E. Pimentel Fonseca in 1800.

piazza mercato

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