However, the earlier eras appeared to be significantly less melancholy in comparison. The works of Leopardi and Baudelaire show in varying degrees a certain admiration for this "golden" age of the past, where men were free from the bonds of ennui, and a vague desire to return to the simpler life of former times. It is in the slow march toward modernity that they perceive the initial development of ennui.
According to Leopardi, the first step on the path to ennui was the destruction of the old illusions of mankind. He felt that the ancients were happier than the moderns because they used their imagination to create illusions which would hide the Truth - that life is without worth or hope. This is why the peoples of former times seemed so much more noble than the moderns, z As Leopardi affirmed in his "Inno ai Patriarchi," men were more con- tent in this earlier era. Rosenthal - Leopardi and Baudelaire Di suo fato ignara e degli affanni suoi, vota d'affanno visse l'umana stirpe; alle secrete leggi del cielo e di natura indutto valse l'ameno error, le fraudi, il molle pristino velo; e di sperar contenta nostra placida nave in porto ascese, a.
Non fra sciagure e colpe, ma libera ne' boschi e pura etade natura a noi prescrisse. Opere, I, Similar ideas can be f o u n d in the fifth p o e m o f L es Fleurs du Mal. J'aime le souvenir de ces 6poques nues, Dont Phoebus se plaisait 5. Alors I'homme et la femme en leur agilit6 Jouissaient sans mensonge et sans anxi6t6, Et, le ciel amoureux leur caressant l'6chine, Exer9aient la sant6 de leur noble machine.
A la sainte jeunesse, 5- l'air simple, au doux front, A l'oeil limpide et clair ainsi qu'une eau courante, Et qui va r6pandant sur tout, insouciante Comme l'azur du ciel, les oiseaux et les fleurs, Ses parfums, ses chansons et ses douces chaleurs! Oeuvres, p. Rosenthal - Leopardi and Baudelaire. Baudelaire also lashed out at the Christian era, claiming that the pagan era was more felicitous.
In " L a Muse malade," he suggested that this difference is manifested in the poetry of each period. The modern muse is ill, unlike the robust ancient muse. Unlike this wretched figure, the ancient muse was healthier, and her poetry, more harmonious. There is a reference to Christianity in the poet's desire to see the "Christian blood" of his m o d e m muse flow more rhythmically, like the pagan blood o f the ancient muse:.
Leopardi and Baudelaire both thought that, concurrent with the rise of Christianity, the burgeoning spirit of scientific progress in the modern age contributed to the destruction of man's happiness and to the emer- gence of ennui. The experience gained by dint of human intellectual curiosity destroyed the illusions which made happiness possible.
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Leopardi explained that in particular scientific discovery traced the limits of things and thus erased forever the illusion of infinity, which was a profound delight of the imagination. There exists art astounding parallel between passages in Leopardi's poem " A d Angelo M a r ' and Baudelaire's "Le Voyage" which illustrate how discovery and experience tear away illusions nurtured by the imagination.
Leopardi exclaimed:. Ahi ahi, ma conosciuto il mondo non cresce, anzi si scema, e assai pifi vasto l'etra sonante e l'alma terra e il mare al fanciullin, che non al saggio, appare. Opere, I. Pour l'enfant, amoureux de cartes et d'estampes, L'univers est 6gal h son vaste app6tit. Aux yeux du souvenir que le monde est petit! A desire for progress and knowledge overcame these barriers; however, the discovery shattered the illusion that the world was boundless and the sea, infinite. The Truth was revealed and mankind was one step further along the road to ennui and despair:.
Nostri sogni leggiadri ove son giti dell'ignoto ricetto d'ignoti abitatori, o del diurno degli astri albergo, e del rimoto letto della giovane Aurora, e del notturno occulto sonno del maggior pianeta? Ecco svaniro a un punto, e figurato 6 il mondo in breve carta. In "Le Voyage," Baudelaire also laments that experience obliterates the illusion of infinity.
M a n has aspirations toward the infinite, which he seems to perceive on the sea. The infinite is actually a desire within mart him- self, and the voyage proves this desire to be illusory. N o t only is life made unbearable by the destruction of the old illusions, but baseness of character and action ensues. The modern age is marked by corruption, sloth, apathy, and other moral ills. Materialism runs rampant; spiritual qualities are dead. In several pieces, Leopardi depicts the melancholy results of man's slavish devotion to material things.
He portrays the deathlike torpor into which the world had sunk in the "Dialogo d'Ercole e di Atlante," where Hercules and Atlas toss the globe about but see or hear no one Opere, I, In his p o e m to Angelo Mai, he castigates his tired century, "questo secol morro, al quale incombe tanta nebbia di tedio" Opere, I, The quest for power and riches has buried all thoughts of virtue, and utilitarianism has blinded men to beauty and emptied life of substance, as he states in "I1 pensiero dominan- te":.
Di questa eth superba, che di vbte speranze si nutrica, vaga di ciance, e di virtil nemica; stolta, che l'util chiede, e inutile la vita quindi pifa sempre divenir non vede. Baudelaire matches Leopardi's condemnation of the baseness of con- temporary society in "J'aime le souvenir. O monstruosit6s pleurant leur v6tement! O ridicules troncs! O pauvres corps tordus, maigres, ventrus, ou flasques, Que le Dieu de FUtile, implacable et serein, Enfants, emmaillota dans ses langes d'airain!
Materialism, utilitarianism, and "progress" are found to be particularly detrimental to art. Leopardi states in "Ad Angelo Mai" that his con- temporaries have abandoned great art. Poets such as Tasso are forgotten because men prefer computations to poetry Opere, I, Baudelaire echoes this sentiment in his plans for a preface to the edition of Les Fleurs du Mal. Ridiculing the modern idea of progress and utility, he writes: "La France traverse une phase de vulgaritr. Paris, centre et rayonnement de batise universelle.
Leopardi and the Theory of Poetry - tyruvyvizo.cf
With un- canny perception they anticipated the era of machines and computers. In FusOes, Baudelaire predicted that in the future, existence would hardly be worthy of the name. There would be no vital energy in men, such as there was in ancient times; instead, there would exist a society of robots: "La mrcanique nous aura tellement amrricaaisrs, le progrrs aura si bien atrophi6 en nous route la partie spirituelle, que rien parmi les raveries sanguinaires, sacrileges, ou anti-naturelles des utopistes ne pourra atre compar6 h ses rrsultats positifs" Oeuvres, pp. In the "Proposta di premi fatta dall'Accademia dei sillografi," Leopardi ridiculed the con- cept of modern progress and satirically demonstrated how machines would soon replace man in a completely mechanized society.
He proclaim- ed the "age of machines," not only because men would live in a more mechanical fashion than those in the past, but also because machines would be used in so wide a variety of situations that "oramai non gli uomini m a l e macchine, si pu6 dire, trattano le cose umane e fanno le opere della vita" Opere, I, Leopardi and Baudelaire were particularly dismayed by the newspapers of their day, which were the self-proclaimed heralds of progress.
Baude- laire took particular delight in attacking Le Sikele, whose pride in its positivistic philosophy was unbounded. He maintained that while modern newspapers boast of progress, they manifest in their pages the horror and baseness of m o d e m society. The ultimate conclusion of both Leopardi and Baudelaire was that the idea of progress and perfectibility is absurd. It is in reality a phenomenon inspired by man's vanity, and it is a source of his misery. Baudelaire levied a final assault against progress in "Le Voyage.
Leopardi also scorned the vainglory of mankind in the final poem of his own collection. In " L a ginestra," the ruins of Pompeii provide an incontro- vertible refutation of the modern concept of progress. One small blow from Nature can wipe out centuries of accumulated work, as Leopardi observes while contemplating the ruins around Vesuvius:. Dipinte in queste rive son dell'umana gente le magnifiche sortie progressive. Man's quest for progress and knowledge ends in frustration and tra- gedy.
The great disillusionist
All hope of happiness is erased; and all that is left is the anguish of seeing reality as it actually is - hopeless, vain, monotonous. Both poets knew the pain o f discovering the emptiness of life. The realization that everything was meaningless, and that there was no hope for anything better, left Leopardi and Baudelaire in a desolate state. Rejecting every- thing around them, their minds turned inward; and they were engulfed by ennui, the malady which they felt to be synonymous with modernity.
The ennui of Leopardi and Baudelaire was of course not just boredom, but something much more profound. It was a deeply-rooted, paralyzing affliction permeated with the sentiment of the vanity of existence. Baude- laire gave this condition the name of spleen. And on another occasion: "Je ne travaille encore qu'avec distraction, et je m'enrmie mortellement. Leopardi experienced many of the symptoms which Baudelaire identi- fied with spleen, and he went even further than Baudelaire in theorizing about his ennui, or noia. Like his French counterpart, he expressed his disenchantment with everything and his dejection at discovering the emptiness of existence.
Le n6ant des choses dtait p o u r moi la seule chose qui existait. Cette pens6e m ' o c c u p a i t tellement, que je croyais presque en perdre m a raison. Here, ennui has become the moral illness referred to by Baudelaire as spleen. Evident are the torpor, inaction, paralysis o f the will, discouragement, numbness, and desperation that tortured the French poet. Ennui is so intense that it resembles a gnawing pain:. Sono cosi stordito del niente che mi circonda, che non so come abbia la forza di prendere la penna per rispondere alia tua del primo.
Questa la prima volta chela noia non solamente mi opprime e stanca, ma mi affanna e lacera come un dolor gravissimo, e sono cosi spaventato della vanith di tutte le cose, e della condizione degli uomini, morte tutte le passioni, come sono spente nell'anima mia, che nevo fuori di me, considerando ch'6 un niente anche la mia disperazione. Epistolario, 1, Leopardi theorized that ennui actually fills the void between pain and pleasure; that is, when we are neither h a p p y n o r suffering, we are prone to ennui. W h e n he himself is at rest, he is overwhelmed by ennui, even t h o u g h he is not particularly sad n o r in pain Opere, I, In fact, Leopardi felt that suffering was better t h a n ennui.
He considered noia an illness which was far worse than any bodily disease, as he wrote in a letter destined for his father: "Voglio piuttosto essere infelice che piccolo, e soffrire piuttosto che annoiarmi, tanto pig c h e l a noia, madre per me di mortifere malinconie, mi nuoce assai pifi che ogni disagio del corpo Epistolario, I, Analogous thoughts were expressed by Baudelaire. Leopardi suggests the barrenness of his soul by the same image of desolate land in "I1 risorgimento. Piansi spogliata, esanime fatta per me la vita; la terra inaridita, chiusa in eterno gel; deserto il di.
Another aspect of ennui is the subsequent result of this tedium - the inaction and paralysis of the will which locked the poets in a state of im- mobility 9 Both depict this by images of stone, which suggest heaviness and rigidity. In one of the "Spleen" poems, Baudelaire pictures his spirit as a pyramid, and then as a cemetery with its gravestones , to illustrate poetically the deadly paralysis instilled in his soul by ennui:. C'est une pyramide, un immense caveau, Qui contient plus de morts que la fosse commune.
Later in the same poem, he pictures himself as a granite sphinx, petrified in the desert of life. There is neither will nor energy left in him, as he is permanently and irrevocably trapped in ennui9 In his poem to Pepoli, Leopardi also suggests the paralyzing heaviness of ennui and its immova- ble, permanent presence within his soul by employing an image of stone.
Ahi, ma nel petto nell'imo petto, grave, salda, immota come colonna adamantina, siede noia immortale. A n d in " L a vita solitaria," he claims that his heart is like stone. A l t h o u g h at times it m a y appear to beat again, it soon returns to a state o f torpor. This stupor is so persistent that Leopardi calls it iron-like:. A palpitar si move questo mio cor di sasso: ahi, ma ritorna tosto al ferreo sopor; ch'6 fatto estrano ogni moto soave al petto mio. W i t h the victim locked in a state o f inertia, unable to react to things a r o u n d him, all feeling drains away.
Leopardi and Baudelaire b o t h use images o f darkness to depict the morose insensitivity o f the soul. In "I1 risorgimento," Leopardi compares the state o f his spirit to a dark, star- less night:. La tacita nolte pifl sola e bruna; spenta per me la luna, spente le stelle in ciel. Again, in "Aspasia," he proclaims that life to him is a cold winter night, without stars.
He is in the blackest o f moods, emptied o f any feeling:. Che se d'affetti orba la vita, e di gentili errori, notte senza stelle a mezzo il verno. Baudelaire presents similar images in " L ' I r r 6 p a r a b l e. Peut-on illuminer un ciel bourbeux et noir? A n d in " D e profundis clamavi," his weary heart has fallen into a dark abyss.
Images o f ice and snow are also used to suggest the numbness felt while under the cruel reign o f ennui. Quante querele e lacrime sparsi nel novo stato quando al mio cor gelato prima il dolor manc6! Mancftr gli usati palpiti, l'amor mi venne meno, e irrigidito il seno di sospirar cess6! Baudelaire employs identical imagery to represent his b e n u m b e d soul. I n " D e profundis clamavi," he evokes the frigid wastes o f the polar region. Just as Leopardi proclaimed that his heart, once so warm, had become cold, Baudelaire suggests the same idea with the image o f a sun that gives off no w a r m t h :.
Un soleil sans chaleur plane au-dessus six mois, Et les six autres mois la nuit couvre la terre; C'est un pays plus nu que la terre polaire. Again, in " C h a n t d ' a u t o m n e , " we see the polar sun, which corresponds to his frozen heart:. Tout l'hiver va rentrer dans mon 6tre: coler6, Haine, frissons, horreur, labeur dur et forc6, Et, comme le soleil dans son enfer polaire, Mon coeur ne sera plus qu'un bloc rouge et glac6.
Under the black influence o f ennui both poets sink to the depths o f despair. All desire is gone, and the apparent uselessness o f everything is before their eyes. The next step in this spiritual descent is the renunciation o f life itself, which is stated in two poems o f an analogous nature - " L e Gofit du n6ant" and " A se stesso. H o p e has disappeared; and numb, weary hearts lapse into somnolence.
Life no longer tempts the poets, as they withdraw into the g l o o m y recesses o f their own souls. Baudelaire addresses his listless spirit:. Morne esprit, autrefois amoureux de la lutte, L'Espoir, dont l'6peron attisait ton ardeur, Ne veut plus t'enfourcher! Rdsigne-toi, mon coeur; dors ton sommeil de brute!
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I n m u c h the same way Leopardi tells his heart that it can sleep, because there is nothing left to hope for. Or poserai per sempre, stanco mio cor. Peri l'inganno estremo, ch'eterno io mi credei. Ben sento, in noi di carl inganni, non chela speme, il desiderio 6 spento.
Posa per sempre. Assai palpitasti. Finally, having renounced the daily pursuits of life which sometimes diverted their attention from the pure tediousness of existence, Leopardi and Baudelaire now face the cruelest form of ennui. Because they must live each day with nothing to hope for or look forward to, they become acutely aware of the slow movement of time.
Each succeeding moment adds to their torture, and ennui seems eternal. In the poem " A un vincitore nel pallone," Leopardi alludes to the "putrid and slow hours" of life. And in his poem to Pepoli, he claims that animals are not burdened by the slowness of the hours; only men suffer as they inch their way through existence:. For his part, Baudelaire stresses in one of the "Spleen" poems the endless length of each dark day. He is crushed under the weight of the slowly- moving hours, and ennui takes on the proportions of immortality:. Rien n'6gale en longueur les boiteuses j ourn6es, Quand sous les lourds flocons des neigeuses ann6es L'ennui, fruit de la morne incuriosit6, Prend les proportions de l'immortalit6.
And in "De profundis clamavi," we find a parallel with Leopardi's poem to Pepoli. Just as Leopardi affirmed that animals did not suffer from the tedious passing of the hours, Baudelaire claims that he envies the beasts, who do not notice the slow unwinding of time:. Je jalouse le sort des plus vils animaux Qui peuvent se plonger dans un sommeil stupide, Tant l'6cheveau du temps lentement se d6vide. Thus, the torture of ennui for Leopardi and Baudelaire was heightened immeasurably by the endless length of time.
Before their eyes the vacuous minutes, hours, and days stretched slowly out to infinity. Ultimately, this seemingly hopeless situation generated desperate efforts on the part of both Leopardi and Baudelaire to escape the iron-like hold of ennui, all of them more or less inefficacious, until they contemplated the final evasion in death.
Although they are perhaps the foremost portrayers of ennui in West- ern literature, Leopardi and Baudelaire did not consider their own cases unusual; as has been noted, they regarded this malady as a generalized ill of the modern age. Yet it struck a personal and responsive chord within them. So thoroughly was this obsession implanted in their souls that they felt its deadly poison to the very core of their beings.
One might wonder why these two men in particular had such similar conceptions of ennui, felt it so profoundly, and expressed it so often and in much the same terms in their works. The answer, I believe, lies in their character and sensibility. They approached life with many of the same attitudes and hopes, and consequently experienced similar disillusionment. Ever in search of the ideal, their extraordinary sensitivity revealed to them the vanity and triviality of everything in their path.
The destruction of the aspirations they cherished hurled them into a state of spleen from which they struggled to extricate themselves. Leopardi himself noted that the sensitive and imaginative individual - such as each of our poets - is per- haps the most likely to fall victim to ennui and hence to indifference and insensibility.
The reason for this is that he consumes life voraciously, exhausts it quickly, and soon finds that there is nothing of inteiest or worth to experience. As the Italian wrote: "Egli resta vuoto, disingannato profondamente e stabilmente, perch6 ha tutto profondamente e vivamen- te provato: non si 6 fermato alle superficie, non siva affondando a poco a poco; 6 andato subito al fondo, ha tutto abbracciato, e tutto rigettato come affettivamente indegno e frivolo: non gli resta altro a vedere, a sperimentare, a sperare" Zib, I, This plunge to the depths of existence and the resultant rejection of everything in life as being without value was also characteristic of Baudelaire.
Having begun with similar illusions, Leopardi and Baudelaire tested life and found it wanting. After shattering disappointments, they dis- covered a void in the world around them which matched the void inside their own souls. Actually, this golden age alluded to by both poets is not always the era of classical antiquity, in a more general sense, it can be called the pre-Christian period.
Leopardi, for instance, noted two ages before the advent of Christianity: the primitive state and antiquity. Except for his correspondence, all citations from Baudelaire's works are to this edition. It is noteworthy that this particular contrast of ancient and modern poetry can be traced back to the origins of German romanticism, especially to Schiller, who developed the theory in his essay, Ober naive und sentimentalisehe Diehtung.
Several scholars have noted this parallel. The first to do so was probably Vittorio A. Jacques Cr6pet, ed. In his plan for a rebuttal to an article by Jules Janin, Baudelaire praised the great foreign poets of recent years and said that France had nothing to compare to them. Among these poets, listed by Baudelaire, were "Byron.
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Search inside document. Rosenthal - Leopardi and Baudelaire brought them hope: Di suo fato ignara e degli affanni suoi, vota d'affanno visse l'umana stirpe; alle secrete leggi del cielo e di natura indutto valse l'ameno error, le fraudi, il molle pristino velo; e di sperar contenta nostra placida nave in porto ascese, a Life in t h a t distant time was a b o v e all simpler a n d p u r e r because m a n lived a c c o r d i n g to N a t u r e ' s laws, as n o t e d in the following verses f r o m "Bruto minore": Non fra sciagure e colpe, ma libera ne' boschi e pura etade natura a noi prescrisse.
L i k e L e o p a r d i , he stresses the p u r i t y o f a more natural and healthy era: J'aime le souvenir de ces 6poques nues, Dont Phoebus se plaisait 5. H e renders h o m a g e to t h a t t i m e w h e n the w o r l d was y o u n g : A la sainte jeunesse, 5- l'air simple, au doux front, A l'oeil limpide et clair ainsi qu'une eau courante, Et qui va r6pandant sur tout, insouciante Comme l'azur du ciel, les oiseaux et les fleurs, Ses parfums, ses chansons et ses douces chaleurs! Rosenthal - Leopardi and Baudelaire him into a woeful state Zib, I, Leopardi exclaimed: Ahi ahi, ma conosciuto il mondo non cresce, anzi si scema, e assai pifi vasto l'etra sonante e l'alma terra e il mare al fanciullin, che non al saggio, appare.
Rosenthal - Leopardi and Baudelaire ered a whole new world, despite Nature's obstacles. It was the only major work of prose that Leopardi published in his lifetime. Although Alessandro Manzioni, another great poet of the time, gave it a favorable notice, it was largely ignored by readers. In Leopardi left his home in Recanti.
Again he fell hopelessly in love — this time with Fanny, the wife of professor Targioni-Tozzeti. He also began to work on his Pensieri Thoughts , patterned after the Maximes of the French writer La Rochefoucauld His sarcasm on the fashionable progressive ideas of his fellow writers Leopardi poured into Palinodia. In they moved into the villa Ferrigni on the slopes of Vesuvius, about fifteen miles from Naples. Leopardi died of edema on June 14, , in Naples, at the age of thirty-nine.
Ranieri said of his friend: "His whole life was not a career like that of most men; it was truly a precipitate course towards death. Many of the representatives of romanticism — Leopardi, Byron, Shelley, Lermontov and so forth — were members of aristocratic families and manifested aristocratic views to some extent, and also were inspired by ideas of freedom. But while Byron had an active public role, Leopardi lived an interior life, and though he expressed feelings of loss and nostalgia for the past, he took in his essay 'Discorso di un italiano intorno alla poesia romantica' a critical stand to Romanticism.
Moreover, Byron was adored by women but Leopardi's romantic dreams never had fulfillment.
He was convinced that ladies laughed at him. Byron created from his feelings of homelessness and loneliness a romantic hero, a mysterious man with a secret in his past. Leopardi could never escape the curse of his own ill health, and later the growing blindness. In Melville's poem Clarel Leopardi appeared briefly as a sceptic "stoned by Grief". During the reign of Mussolini, a new interest arose in Leopardi's work. His relative Count Ettore Leopardi argued that if he was "the Poet of great human suffering, he was also, powerfully, the Singer of the Fatherland.
Conte Giacomo Leopardi Nature has no more care Or praise for human souls Than for the ants: and as she slaughters men Less terribly than them, This is no great wonder, For man's fecundity and ants' are worlds asunder. Between the years and he wrote for Fortunato Stella publishers Leopardi's writings from the s include Versi and Operette morali , a disillusioned collection of dialogues after the manner of the Greek satirist Lucian.
Gentile ; L'elaborazione della lirica leopardiana by P. Bigongiari : La filologia di Giacomo Leopardi by S. Bosco ; Linguaggio del vero in Leopardi by C. Galimberti ; La nuova poetica leopardiana by W. Binni ; Leopardi and the Theory of Poetry by G. Singh ; Storia del riso leopardiano by G. Marzot ; Saggi leopardiani by G. Getto ; Frammenti critici leopardiani by A. Francis Wrangham, ; Frederick Townsend, ; etc. Patrick Creagh, editor: Crestomazia italiana: prosa, poesia, 2 vols. Canti, rev.