Italy Literature – Developments of the Early Romanticism Part 1
Freed from any ambition or need for classicism as an imitation of forms, but provided with that viaticum of classicism which is pure sense of form and which about six centuries of life have inherited it forever, Italian literature enters the conversation through the work of romanticism worldwide literary, and more or less intense, more or less continuous, its effectiveness suffers, both in a generic reflection of forms, tendencies, attitudes, and in particular imitations of works or manners.
According to Thembaprograms, Manzoni’s novel, in which there are also some traces, without importance for art, of Scott’s novels, and the great European vogue of Walter Scott’s short stories, promoted in Italy a large flowering of historical novels, which while satisfying the then dominant taste of history as a contemplation of the past relived in its concrete picturesque reality, they could also exercise a practical action in the ever more lively and active ferment of national aspirations. Much more Scottian than Manzonian are the historical novels by Giambattista Bazzoni and Carlo Varese; Manzoni in situations, but for the nature of the subject and for certain technical qualities Scott is the lucky Marco Visconti by Tommaso Grossi, also author of romantic short stories in verse and of a heroic poem, which tastes like a tale and owes much to Scott. The inspiration of a patriotic ideality is evident in the two novels Ettore Fieramosca and Niccolò de ‘Lapi by Massimo d’Azeglio, a simple, casual and at times lively narrator, who knows how to build his novels firmly and effectively represent the picturesque of the story, but is weak and superficial in the intimate figuration of his characters. The violent passion that inflamed the political life of Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi also burns in his novels, in which classical rhetoric mixes with convulsions and puffiness of style and the emphatic sentimentality of a certain foreign romanticism with Byronic foscaggini. Yet Guerrazzi knows how to be simple and natural in the graceful allegory of the Serpicina and in the novel of modern costumes Il buco nel muro, where a vein of humor gives the life of a well-differentiated individuality as a writer to the straightforward Tuscan language. Antiromantic in the doctrine and puristic purposes of collector and consumer of linguistic delicacies, but in the practice of romantic art like any other writer of the early nineteenth century, it was Antonio Bresciani, who compares to the liberal Guerrazzi as the fruitful and angry novelist of the reaction following the revolutions of the forty-eight; author of prose pages worthy of living in Italian literary history, only for the work of costumes of the island of Sardinia .
Parallel to the vogue of the historical novel proceeds the copious flowering of historical drama, fueled by the intentions of imitating the great English and German models and at the time also by the Manzoni tragedy. Edoardo Fabbri and Francesco Benedetti, tenacious classicists in theory and in the first experiments of art, romanticized in their plays later on for the choice of medieval subjects, for the extension of actions beyond the limits of units, for a certain historical study of characters , for the picturesque theatricality of some scenes. The subjects are medieval, the development of the cases and characters is broad and complex, the form free in the tragedies of Carlo Tedaldi Fores and Carlo Marenco. Silvio Pellico draws his inspiration from medieval and biblical history, from Francesca da Rimini to Herodias, without departing much from the classical Alfieri forms, but nourishing his poor art with Shakespearean and Schillerian reminiscences and weakening it with the sentimentality dear to his time. From the classical tragedy, with which he made his debut, Giambattista Niccolini gradually passed, following the foreign and Manzoni examples, to the romantic drama, not without pauses or returns or without some persistence of classical spirits, also proposing political intentions to his art, which s ‘add up and culminate in Arnaldo da Brescia , judged to be his masterpiece. And indeed certain qualities of structure and historical color are not lacking; but also in Arnaldo the characters are figures of pure exteriority, grandiloquent orators with an intimate dramatic life. Medieval arguments Leopoldo Marenco, son of Carlo, also dealt in dramatic form; more modern historical arguments Giuseppe Revere, the one and the other artificially, the one for sentimental affectation, this for literate pedantry. The plays of Pietro Cossa are also conducted in the free forms of romantic art, the last offshoots of the dramatic stream that has descended from the beginning of the century. There Roman subjects, Nero , Messalina, etc. (and less happily others, medieval and modern) are drawn to live a life of varied and full humanity according to the eternal laws of nature, in a representation that passes from epic solemnity to lyrical excitement and the simple and flat pace of bourgeois comedy.