My Sixth Form history teacher at Rangitoto College in 1978 was called Mr. Dalton. He was an excellent teacher, I think, relaxed and approachable, and treating our overall theme - European history in the 19th century - with gusto and enthusiasm.
The topic that interested me most that year was the Unification of Italy - aka 'il Risorgimento' [the Resurgence / the Uprising]. I knew nothing whatever about it (though I already had some grasp of the main events of the Napoleonic wars through assiduous reading of C. S. Forester's Hornblower books). Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi - I might have heard their names, but I had no idea who they actually were.
I had, of course, encountered the last of them in that celebrated passage in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows (1908) where Mole's tastes in ornamental statuary are itemised:
... Garibaldi, and the infant Samuel, and Queen Victoria, and other heroes of modern Italy.
Chris Dunn: Carol-singing mice
Presumably those 'other heroes' would have included Cavour and Mazzini, and possibly even King Vittorio Emanuele himself. If you look at the picture at the top of this page, you can see an idealised version of the famous meeting between the King and Garibaldi at which the latter handed over to the former dominion over the whole of Southern Italy.
Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909)
G. M. Trevelyn. Garibaldi and the Thousand (May 1860). 1909. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1948.
I think, at the time, I already owned a copy of G. M. Trevelyan's Garibaldi and the Thousand (1909), his classic account of the liberation of Sicily during a single month of that year of destiny, 1860.
I owned it but I hadn't read it. In fact I didn't finally read it till last week, more than forty years after buying it for a buck or so from a pile of other remaindered stock at Allphee books in Auckland. It wasn't so much laziness as the fact that I knew that it was the middle part of a trilogy, and - being of a somewhat obsessive temperament where such things are concerned - I had to get the other two parts before I could finally open its pages.
G. M. Trevelyan. Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic, 1848-9. 1907. A Phoenix Press Paperback. London: The Orion Publishing Group Ltd., 2001.
I found volume one, Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic, in Albany in 2011. I'm not quite sure when I acquired volume three, Garibaldi and the Making of Italy, but it's an ex-library book, so it was probably in Palmerston North in the 1990s.
G. M. Trevelyan. Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (June-November 1860). 1911. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1948.
I guess the point I'm making is that it was quite a protracted process.
In many ways I'm glad that I waited so long, though. I think I'm in a better position now to appreciate it without being put off by the almost hysterical tone of adulation that pervades its pages.
William Hope: George Macaulay Trevelyan (1876-1962)
The young Trevelyan, great-nephew of the classic Whig historian Thomas Babington Macaulay and son of his biographer George Otto Trevelyan, was in his late twenties when he began his researches, and had only reached his mid-thirties when he completed the last volume. Perhaps as a result of youthful enthusiasm, he seems to have found it nearly impossible to maintain any distance from his subject.
The mere fact that he'd found time to tramp over every obscure goat track frequented by the great one gives testimony to that. He was even able to talk to many of Garibaldi's principal lieutenants (and accomplices) before time overtook them.
All of this gives his trilogy an atmosphere of intimate absorption in the career of a larger-than-life hero. Nor does he apologise for this in any of the prefaces to its many reprints. There is, he admits, room for alternative approaches - but this is his, and it does have the effect of making it feel more like an elaborately researched work of creative non-fiction than your more typical dry-as-dust history.
The Unification of Italy (1858-1870)
I suppose, in retrospect, that sixth-form history course might have had something to do with my decision to take Italian as one of the majoring subjects in my BA. I've certainly never regretted that choice. It's true that we spent more time studying the literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries than that of the nineteenth - in fact, so much Ariosto, Dante, Poliziano and Tasso did we read that our young Neapolitan Italian conversation teacher, Francesca, accused us of speaking "una specie d'italiano Dantesco": a distinctly Dante-esque Italian - but at the time that suited my medievalist inclinations very well.
But the theme of the unification of Italy dominates not just the writers of its own era, the mid to late nineteenth century, but also many of their precursors. Reading Trevelyan, with his copious quotations from contemporary English and Italian poets, got me to thinking about the literature of the Risorgimento: those books which can give us some sense of what it felt like to be alive in those times.
Trevelyan puts it best in the preface to a 1920 popular edition of Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic:
The events of the Risorgimento, a large portion of which are covered in this Garibaldian trilogy, are ... to the Italian of to-day more than any single epoch of English history can be to us. They are to him all that the story of Washington and Lincoln together are to the American. To be friends with Italy, we must begin by understanding and sympathising with the movement that gave her birth. Any attempt to chronicle the history of English culture in the nineteenth century has to run up continually against Italy: the Romantic poets were obsessed with its language and literature; Keats and Shelley both died there, and Byron spent many years there before his final Greek adventure. Matthew Arnold, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Ruskin, all travelled there, and all had a singular relationship with it.
I've tried to confine myself to those writers who had a direct connection with the actual events of the Risorgimento or who significantly influenced it. If you look at the list of books below, though, you'll see that that still amounts to quite a few names:
Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803)
- Alfieri, Vittorio. Vita Scritta da Esso. 1804. Ed. Luigi Galeazzo Tenconi. Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 1563-1566. Milano: Rizzoli Editore, 1960.
- Mazzini, Joseph. The Duty of Man and Other Essays. 1907. Everyman’s Library, 224. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. / New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1924.
Vittorio Alfieri: Vita Scritta da Esso (1804)
Count Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803)
Vittorio Alfieri's posthumously published autobiography gives a good account of the life of this turbulent, quarrelsome poet and tragedian. His liberal inclinations, expressed in his various political writings ("Against Tyranny" and "The Prince and Literature"), had a considerable influence on the beginnings of the movement for Italian freedom.
Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872)
Giuseppe Mazzini was the heart and soul of the ideological struggle for a unified Italy. While his own desires for a republic rather than a monarchy were not fulfilled, his lifelong devotion to the cause inspired Garibaldi and the other architects of the eventual, compromised Kingdom of Italy. His brief stint as one of the three triumvirs at the head of the Roman Republic was a failure in practical terms, but a symbolic triumph, which helped establish the idea of Rome as the capital of the new nation.
Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827)
- Carducci, Giosuè. Selected Verse. Ed. & trans. David H. Higgins. Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1994.
- Foscolo, Ugo. Tutte le Poesie. Ed. Ludovico Magugliani. Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 411-413. Milano: Rizzoli Editore, 1952.
- Foscolo, Ugo. Liriche Scelte: I Sepolcri e Le Grazie. Commento di Severino Ferrari. Ed. Oreste Antognoni & Sergio Romagnoli. Biblioteca Carducciana, 5. Firenze: Sansoni, 1964.
- Foscolo, Ugo. Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis. Ed. Ludovico Magugliani. Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 12-13. Milano: Rizzoli Editore, 1949.
- Leopardi, Giacomo. Canti. Ed. Franco Brioschi. 1974. Superbur Classici. Milan: BUR, 1999.
- Leopardi, Giacomo. Canti. Ed. John Humphreys Whitfield. 1967. Italian Texts. Ed. Kathleen Speight. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1978.
- Leopardi, Giacomo. Canti. Trans. Jonathan Galassi. 2010. Penguin Classics. London: Penguin, 2010.
- Leopardi, Giacomo. Operette Morali. 1827. Ed. Saverio Orlando. Classici Italiani. Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli. 1976. Milano: Rizzoli Editore, 1982.
- Flora Francesco, ed. Tutte le Opere di Giacomo Leopardi: Le Poesie e le Prose. 1940. vols 1 & 2 of 5. I Classici Mondadori. Milano: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1962.
- Leopardi, Giacomo. Poesie e Prose. Volume primo: Poesie. Ed. Mario Andrea Rigoni. Essay by Cesare Galimberti. 1987. Le Opere di Giacomo Leopardi. 4 vols. I Meridiani. Milano: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1998.
- Kay, George R., ed. The Penguin Book of Italian Verse: With Plain Prose Translations of Each Poem. 1958. The Penguin Poets. Ed. J. M. Cohen. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1960.
- Sanguinetti, Edoardo, ed. Poesia Italiana del Novecento. Gli Struzzi, 3. 2 vols. Torino: Einaudi, 1969.
Giosuè Carducci (1963)
Giosuè Alessandro Michele Carducci (1835–1907)
Giosuè Carducci, the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize for literature, has come to be seen as a kind of embodiment of intellectual liberty, both in his life and his works. His most famous poem, the "Hymn to Satan" (1863) was considered "by Italian leftists of the time as a metaphor of the rebellious and freethinking spirit." It was first published in a newspaper shortly before the 1870 march on Rome which finally reunited the country. Somewhat appropriately, the Museum of the Risorgimento (Bologna) is located in the house he died in, the Casa Carducci.
Ugo Foscolo: Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis (1802)
Niccolò [Ugo] Foscolo (1778-1827)
Ugo Foscolo's famous novel The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis (1798) depicts the state of mind of an Italian patriot forced to endure the destruction of the Venetian Republic by Napoleon's invading armies in 1797. His most famous poem, "Dei Sepolcri" [From the graves] (1807) suggests summoning up the spirits of the dead to help in the struggle from freedom in his country. He died in exile in London, like so many other Italian writers and thinkers. Long after his death he became a potent symbol of resistance for the new nation of Italy.
Giacomo Leopardi: All'Italia (1819)
Giacomo Taldegardo Francesco di Sales Saverio Pietro Leopardi (1798–1837)
Giacomo Leopardi was unquestionably the greatest Italian poet of the nineteenth century. While he was not directly involved in the revolutionary movements which led eventually to the reunification, the strongly idealistic and even (at times) nationalistic tone of much of his poetic work had a huge influence on the generation which attempted to enact these abstractions in reality. Poems such as "Orazione agli Italiani in Occasione della Liberazione del Piceno" [Oration to the Italians on the liberation of Piceno] (1815) were read as more directly prophetic of Mazzini and Garibaldi's aspirations than they were probably meant to be by the poet himself.
Baldassare Verazzi: Un épisode des cinq journées de Milan en 1848
Anthologies & Secondary Literature
Either of these anthologies can serve as a useful sampler from the immense body of patriotic Italian verse produced during the nineteenth century (alongside the usual reams of love poetry).
Ippolito Nievo (1831-1861)
- Eco, Umberto. The Prague Cemetery. 2010. Trans. Richard Dixon. Harvill Secker. London: Random House, 2011.
- Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi di. Il Gattopardo: Edizione conforme al manoscritto del 1957. 1958. Universale Economica Feltrinelli. Milano: Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, 1981.
- Lampedusa, Giuseppe di. The Leopard. 1958. Trans. Archibald Colquhoun. 1960. Fontana Modern Novels. London: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1969.
- Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi di. I Racconti. 1961. Ed. Nicoletta Polo. Prefazione di Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi. 1988. Universale Economica Feltrinelli. Milano: Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore, 1993.
- Lampedusa, Giuseppe di. Two Stories and a Memory. 1961. Trans. Archibald Colquhoun. 1962. Introduction by E. M. Forster. The Universal Library. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1968.
- Lampedusa, Giuseppe Tomasi di. The Siren & Selected Writings. 1961 & 1990-91. Trans. Archibald Colquhoun, David Gilmour, & Guido Waldman. 1962 & 1993. Introductions by David Gilmour. London: The Harvill Press, 1995.
- Gilmour, David. The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. 1988. The Harvill Press. London: Random House, 2003.
- Manzoni, Alessandro. I Promessi sposi: Edizione Integrale Commentata. 1825-27. Ed. Lanfranco Caretti. Grande Universale Mursia testi, Nuova serie, 16. 1966. Milano: U. Mursia & C., 1972.
- Manzoni, Alessandro. The Betrothed: ‘I Promessi sposi.’ A Tale of XVII Century Milan. 1827. Trans. Archibald Colquhoun. 1951. London: The Reprint Society Ltd., 1952.
- Nievo, Ippolito. The Castle of Fratta. Trans. Lovett F. Edwards. Illustrated by Eric Fraser. London: The Folio Society, 1954.
Umberto Eco: The Prague Cemetery (2010)
Umberto Eco (1932-2016)
Umberto Eco's penultimate novel is set against the backdrop of the Italian Risorgimento. The main character, a cynical reactionary called Simone Simonini, encounters the patriotic Italian novelist Ippolito Nievo in Sicily, during Garibaldi's 1860 campaign to liberate of the island:Simonini is ordered to destroy some heavily guarded documents in Nievo's possession. He befriends Nievo to gain his confidence - but the papers are too closely guarded. The only way Simonini can think of is to blow up the ship on which Nievo is sailing - sending the papers, Nievo himself and dozens of others to the deeps. Simonini develops an elaborate scheme to smuggle aboard a deranged malcontent with a box of explosives, and bribes a sailor to take part in the scheme, knowing that they would both be killed along with everybody else on the boat. Simonini then stabs to death an accomplice on land who had provided the explosive, to silence him.Simonini goes on to engineer the forgery of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Giuseppe de Lampedusa: The Leopard, with a Memory and Two Stories (1958 & 1961)
Giuseppe Tomasi, 11th Prince of Lampedusa (1896-1957)
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa is really known only for the one novel he wrote, Il Gattopardo [The Leopard] (1958), set in his native Sicily during Garibaldi's invasion of the island, and not published till after the author's death. Acclaimed as a masterpiece, the book was subsequently filmed by Luchino Visconti. Starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale, The Leopard won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1963.
Alessandro Manzoni: The Betrothed (1827)
Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Manzoni (1785-1873)
While Alessandro Manzoni's famous novel I promessi sposi [The Betrothed] (1827) is set in the seventeenth century:The novel is also a symbol of the Italian Risorgimento, both for its patriotic message and because it was a fundamental milestone in the development of the modern, unified Italian language.Having published it, first, in his native Lombardy in the 1820s, he painstakingly rewrote it in Tuscan dialect - identified by him as the proper model for a modern literary Italian - for republication in 1842. His stanzas on the death of Napoleon, Il Cinque maggio [The Fifth of May] (1821), have become one of the most popular lyrics in the Italian language.
Ippolito Nievo: The Castle of Fratta (1954)
Ippolito Nievo (1831-1861)
Ippolito Nievo, who died young in the shipwreck described in Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery (mentioned above), shortly after taking part in the liberation of Sicily as one of Garibaldi's famous "thousand", is best known for his novel Le Confessioni d'un italiano [Confessions of an Italian], a portion of which was translated into English as The Castle of Fratta in 1954. A complete translation came out from Penguin Classics in 2014. It is widely considered the most important Italian novel of the Risorgimento era.
Carlo Pellegrini: Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909)
- Browning, Elizabeth Barrett. The Poetical Works. Introduction by Alice Meynell. London: Ward, Lock & Co., Limited, n.d.
- Kelley, Philip, & Ronald Hudson, ed. Diary by E. B. B.: The Unpublished Diary of Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, 1831-1832. Including Psychoanalytical Observations by Robert Coles, M. D. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1969.
- The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1845-46. With Portraits and Facsimiles. 2 vols. 1898. New York & London: Harper & Brothers., Publishers, 1926.
- Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. 2 vols in 1. Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1872.
- Browning, Robert. The Poetical Works, with Portraits. Ed. Augustine Birrell. 2 vols. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1900.
- Browning, Robert. Poetical Works, 1833-1864. Ed. Ian Jack. 1970. Oxford Standard Authors. London: Oxford University Press, 1975.
- Browning, Robert. The Poems. Ed. John Pettigrew & Thomas J. Collins. Penguin English Poets. 2 vols. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.
- Browning, Robert. The Ring and The Book. Ed. Richard D. Altick. 1971. Penguin English Poets. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.
- Hodell, Charles W., trans & ed. The Old Yellow Book: Source Book of Browning’s “The Ring and the Book”. 1911. Everyman’s Library, 503. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. / New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1927.
- Browning, Robert. Browning to His American Friends: Letters between the Brownings, the Storys and James Russell Lowell, 1841-1890. Ed. Gertrude Reese Hudson. 1970. London: Bowes and Bowes, 1965.
- Byron, Lord. The Complete Poetical Works. Volume 1. Ed. Jerome J. McGann. Oxford English Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980.
- Byron, Lord. The Poetical Works. Ed. Frederick Page. 1904. Rev. ed. 1945. Oxford Standard Authors. London: Oxford University Press, 1959.
- Byron, Lord. Don Juan. Ed. T. G. Steffan, E. Steffan, & W. W. Pratt. Penguin English Poets. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996.
- Byron, George Gordon Noel, Lord. Selected Letters and Journals. Ed. Leslie A. Marchand. 1982. London: Picador Classics, 1988.
- Byron, George Gordon, Lord. Byron's Letters and Journals: The Complete and Unexpurgated Text of All the Letters Available in Manuscript and the Full Printed Version of All Others. 12 vols. Ed. Leslie A. Marchand. London: John Murray, 1973-82.
- Longford, Elizabeth. Byron. 1976. London: Arrow Books Limited, 1978.
- Origo, Iris. The Last Attachment: the Story of Byron and Teresa Guiccioli, as Told in Their Unpublished Letters and Other Family Papers. 1949. The Fontana Library. London: Collins Clear-Type Press, 1962.
- Clough, Arthur Hugh. Poems. 1891. London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1903.
- Clough, Arthur Hugh. The Poems. Ed. A. L. P. Norrington. Oxford Standard Authors. 1967. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.
- Thorpe, Michael, ed. A Choice of Clough’s Verse. Faber Paper Covered Editions. London: Faber, 1969.
- Collected Travel Writings. The Continent: A Little Tour in France; Italian Hours; Other Travels. Ed. Richard Howard. The Library of America, 65. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1993.
- Kaplan, Fred, ed. Travelling in Italy with Henry James: Essays. A John Curtis Book. London: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., 1994.
- William Wetmore Story and His Friends: From Letters, Diaries, and Recollections. In Two Volumes (Combined). 1903. London: Thames & Hudson, n.d.
- Edel, Leon. Henry James. 5 vols. 1953-72. New York: Avon Books, 1978.
- The Untried Years: 1843-1870 (1953)
- The Conquest of London: 1870-1881 (1962)
- The Middle Years: 1882-1895 (1962)
- The Treacherous Years: 1895-1901 (1969)
- The Master: 1901-1916 (1972)
- Edel, Leon. The Life of Henry James. Vol. 1: 1843-89. 1953, 1962, 1963. Peregrine Books. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977.
- Edel, Leon. The Life of Henry James. Vol. 2. 1963, 1969, 1972. Peregrine Books. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977.
- Edel, Leon. Henry James: A Life. 1953, 1962, 1963, 1969, 1972 & 1977. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1985.
- Lewis, R. W. B. The Jameses: A Family Narrative. 1991. An Anchor Book. New York: Doubleday, 1993.
- Meredith, George. The Poetical Works. With Some Notes by G. M. Trevelyan. London: Constable and Company Ltd., 1912.
- Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. Collected Works. Volume I: Poems, Prose-Tales and Literary Papers. Ed. William M. Rossetti. 2 vols. London: Ellis & Elvey, 1888.
- Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. Collected Works. Volume II: Translations, Prose-Notices of Fine Art. Ed. William M. Rossetti. 2 vols. London: Ellis & Elvey, 1888.
- Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. Poems and Translations: 1850-1870. Together with the Prose Story ‘Hand and Soul.’ Oxford Standard Authors. London: Humphrey Milford / Oxford University Press, 1913.
- Doughty, Oswald, ed. Rossetti’s Poems. 1961. Everyman’s Library, 627. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. / New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1968.
- Swinburne, Algernon Charles. Collected Poetical Works. 2 vols. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1924.
- Swinburne, Algernon Charles. Poems. Ed. Bonamy Dobrée. The Penguin Poets. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961.
- Swinburne, Algernon Charles. Poems and Ballads / Atalanta in Calydon. 1866 & 1865. Ed. Morse Peckham. Indianapolis & New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970.
- Swinburne, Algernon Charles. A Choice of Swinburne’s Verse. Ed. Robert Nye. London: Faber, 1973.
- Thomas, Donald. Swinburne: The Poet in His World. 1979. London: Allison & Busby, 1999.
- Tennyson, Alfred. Poems. London: Edward Moxon, 1853.
- Tennyson, Lord Alfred. The Works. 1884. London: Macmillan and Co., 1893.
- Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. Poems of Tennyson, 1830-1868: Including 'The Princess,' 'In Memoriam,' 'Maud,' Four 'Idylls of the King,' 'Enoch Arden' etc. Introduction by Sir Herbert Warren. Oxford Edition. London: Humphrey Milford / Oxford University Press, 1923.
- Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. Poetical Works, Including the Plays. 1953. Oxford Standard Authors. London: Oxford University Press, 1963.
- Ricks, Christopher, ed. The Poems of Tennyson. Longmans Annotated English Poets. London & Harlow: Longman, Green and Co, Ltd.. 1969.
- Tennyson, Alfred. Tennyson: A Selected Edition. Longmans Annotated English Poets. Ed. Christopher Ricks. 1969. Revised ed. 3 vols. 1987. Selected Edition. 1989. Pearson Longman. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Limited, 2007.
- Tennyson, Alfred. Tennyson’s Poetry: Authoritative Texts; Juvenilia and Early Responses; Criticism. Ed. Robert W. Hill, Jr. A Norton Critical edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 1971.
- Lang, Cecil Y., & Edgar F. Shannon, ed. The Letters of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Volume 1: 1821-1850. 1981. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.
- Hallam, Lord Tennyson. Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir, by His Son. 1897. 2 vols in 1. London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1899.
- Trease, Geoffrey. Follow My Black Plume. Illustrated by Brian Wildsmith. 1963. Puffin Books. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972.
- Trease, Geoffrey. A Thousand for Sicily. Illustrated by Brian Wildsmith. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1964.
- Baker, Carlos. Emerson among the Eccentrics: A Group Portrait. Ed. Elizabeth B. Carter. Introduction & Epilogue by James R. Mellow. New York: Viking Penguin, 1996.
- Morley, John. The Life of William Ewart Gladstone. 1903. Lloyd's Popular Edition. 2 vols. London: Edward Lloyd, Limited, 1908.
E. B. Browning: Casa Guidi Windows (1851)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning moved to Italy with her husband in 1846, and died in Florence in 1861. She took a passionate interest in the movement for Italian freedom, and wrote an account of her personal experience of the events of 1848-49 in her 1851 poem "Casa Guidi Windows." Shortly before her death she issued:a small volume of political poems titled Poems before Congress (1860) "most of which were written to express her sympathy with the Italian cause after the outbreak of fighting in 1859". They caused a furore in England, and the conservative magazines Blackwood's and the Saturday Review labelled her a fanatic.
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
Robert Browning was perhaps the most 'Italianised' English poet of the nineteenth century. From his first travels there in 1838, looking for material for his book-length poem Sordello to his epic poem The Ring and the Book (1868-69), it stood at the centre of his preoccupations. His poem "The Italian in England" (1845) shows an interestingly detached view of revolutionary politics, but there's no doubt that he sympathised greatly with the movement for Italian independence.
George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron (1788-1824)
George Gordon, Lord Byron lived in Italy for seven years after the breakup of his marriage in 1816. He moved between the cities of Venice, Ravenna, and Pisa, where he maintained extensive contacts with radicals and revolutionaries from a number of nations, and participated in a lot of vague plotting before settling on the struggle for Greek Independence as his principal cause. This period is chronicled in Peter Quennell's Byron in Italy (1941), as well as the book by Iris Origo listed above. More of a precursor than a participant in the struggle for freedom in Italy. one can't underrate the lasting influence of Byron's example on future poets and writers devoted to the cause.
A. H. Clough: Amours de Voyage (1858)
Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)
Arthur Hugh Clough's most famous poem Amours de Voyage was written in Rome in 1849, though it wasn't published until 1858. Clough provides us with a surprisingly modern set of reactions to the revolutionary turmoil taking place around him, rather in the manner of Stendhal's account of the Battle of Waterloo in La Chartreuse de Parme (1839).
Henry James: William Wetmore Story and His Friends (1903)
Henry James (1843-1916)
Henry James's devotion to Italy was profound and life-long, though largely apolitical. His travel book Italian Hours (1909) chronicles forty years of impressions of the country. His contribution to the literature of the Risorgimento comes more from the one biography he wrote, William Wetmore Story and His Friends (1903), an account of the American sculptor's long stay in Rome from the late 1840s onward. There Story made friends with the Brownings, Walter Savage Landor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Russell Lowell, and a host of other travellers and exiles.
George Meredith: Vittoria (1867)
George Meredith (1828-1909)
George Meredith spent three months in Italy in 1866, which assisted him in composing Vittoria (a sequel to Emilia in England (1864) - later retitled Sandra Belloni). While not perhaps among his finest works, these two novels - along with many of his poems - show his lifelong love and devotion to Italy.
Monument to Gabriele Rossetti (1783-1854)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Gabriele Rossetti, an Italian patriot and poet in exile, married Frances, the daughter of another prominent political exile, Gaetano Polidori, one of whose other sons, Dr John Polidori, was Byron's physician and companion during the famous 'haunted summer' of 1816. They had four children, including the painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the critic and editor William Michael Rossetti, and the poet Christina Rossetti, all important figures in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and vital to nineteenth century English literary and artistic culture in general.
A. C. Swinburne: Songs Before Sunrise (1871)
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
The dissolute English poet Algernon Swinburne's most famous contribution to the struggle to free Italy was his poetry collection Songs Before Sunrise (1871), which continued the themes of his earlier "A Song of Italy". It was partly inspired by his meeting with Mazzini in 1867.
Illustrated London News: Tennyson meets Garibaldi (1864)
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (1809-1892)
Alfred Tennyson's 1851 poem "The Daisy" gives a vivid account of his honeymoon in Italy. Though far less of an "Inglese Italianato" (è un diavolo incarnato) [An Italianised Englishman is a devil incarnate], as the proverb puts it, than many of his contemporaries, he did have a widely publicised meeting with Garibaldi on the Isle of Wight in 1864, and the latter planted a tree to commemorate the event.
Geoffrey Trease: Follow My Black Plume (1963)
Geoffrey Trease (1909-1998)
Geoffrey Trease's pair of historical novels give a lively and nuanced account of the dramatic events of 1849 and 1860 - meant for children, but based firmly on a reading of Trevelyan's trilogy among other works.
Godefroy Durand: Mr Gladstone in Italy, the Neapolitan Prisons (1850-51)
Anthologies & Secondary Literature
The first of these books gives a lively account of Emerson's friend Margaret Fuller's involvement with Italian revolutionary politics over the 1848-49 period. She was a close friend of Mazzini, and had a child with Italian patriot Giovanni Ossoli. All three of them were drowned in a shipwreck in 1850.
The second gives full details of the circumstances surrounding the composition of Gladstone's Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen (1851), a denunciation of the Bourbon regime in Naples based on a visit to some of the political prisoners in their jails. Gladstone famously described what he saw there as "the negation of God erected into a system of government." This had an immense effect on public opinion throughout Europe.
The Departure for Sicily (1860)
G. M. Trevelyan with his Father and Son (1910)
George Macaulay Trevelyan
- England in the Age of Wycliffe, 1368–1520 (1899)
- England Under the Stuarts (1904)
- The Poetry and Philosophy of George Meredith (1906)
- The Garibaldi Trilogy. 3 vols (1907-1909)
- Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic, 1848-9. 1907. A Phoenix Press Paperback. London: The Orion Publishing Group Ltd., 2001.
- Garibaldi and the Thousand (May 1860). 1909. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1948.
- Garibaldi and the Making of Italy (June-November 1860). 1911. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1948.
- [Ed.] The Poetical Works of George Meredith (1912)
- The Life of John Bright (1913)
- Clio, A Muse and Other Essays (1913)
- Scenes From Italy's War (1919)
- The Recreations of an Historian (1919)
- Lord Grey of the Reform Bill (1920)
- British History in the Nineteenth Century, 1782–1901 (1922)
- Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848 (1923)
- History of England (1926)
- [Ed.] Select Documents for Queen Anne's Reign, Down to the Union with Scotland 1702-7 (1929)
- England Under Queen Anne. 3 vols (1930-34):
- Blenheim. 1930. The Fontana Library. London: Collins, 1965.
- Ramillies and the Union with Scotland. 1932. The Fontana Library. London: Collins, 1965.
- The Peace and the Protestant Succession. 1934. The Fontana Library. London: Collins, 1965.
- Sir George Otto Trevelyan: A Memoir (1932)
- Grey of Fallodon (1937)
- The English Revolution, 1688–1698 (1938)
- A Shortened History of England. 1942. A Pelican Book. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1964.
- Illustrated English Social History. 1942. 4 vols. Volume One: Chaucer’s England & The Early Tudors. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1949.
- English Social History. 1942. Illustrated Edition, ed. Ruth C. Wright. 4 vols. 1949-1952. Harmondsworth Penguin, 1964.
- Volume One: Chaucer’s England & The Early Tudors
- Volume Two: The Age of Shakespeare and the Stuart Period
- Volume Three: The Eighteenth Century
- Volume Four: The Nineteenth Century
- Trinity College: An Historical Sketch (1943)
- History and the Reader (1945)
- An Autobiography and Other Essays (1949)
- [Ed.] Carlyle: An Anthology (1953)
- A Layman's Love of Letters (1954)
A lot of connections to Italy and the Risorgimento. My main claim is to have read 'The Leopard'. That novel I liked a lot. I just read through a summary of events in it. I had forgotten a lot. It came back. Browning spent a lot of time in Italy. I gave up on Sordello. But have read 'The Englishman in Italy.' I read a book about Swinburne but somehow couldn't read much of him. I must have missed the part where he went to Italy. I read a poem of his the other day, quite impressed. (I took some words he used in a poem and put them in a line in my 'Chains' poem, then found that Ashbery had done the same in a poem but had put them at the end of the lines, I put mine 'in line' so to speak. I knew of Byron's connection. I have read almost nothing by Byron. Just 'The Assyrian came down...'. I agree re wanting all of the books in a series. I'm obsessive (a bit) about that. I like the way Trevelyan writes in the book I ma reading 'English Social History' (from Chaucer's time to when he was writing, 1940). I saw that huge book of Leopardi's, Zibaldone, in a library. I thought of buying it online, but I bought 'Canti' (Galassi).
When I saw the (huge) Zibaldone I assumed the writer had lived to a great age. Alas he had a terrible spinal disease it seems, and died quite young.
I have read some Petrarch (obviously he much predates your writers, but he was one of the influences), in translation, so I have been inspired, time permitting, to look into some of these writers and to have a closer look at the Risorgimento.
Yes, you're quite right about Petrarch. All of those earlier poets who wrote in Italian vernacular were called into service as precursors of the Risorgimento.
I too was a bit daunted by the sheer bulk of the Zibaldone. I saw a copy for sale on one occasion, but it seemed a bit over my head, to be honest - he was dazzlingly erudite, and it's full of quotations in Greek and Latin, and speculations on obscure points of philology and literary history.
Yes, I realise now the enormous debt we owe to so many "traditions" of writing, and not just European but we have to tackle Italy, France, Germany, Russia and others before we even get to the Chinese or the Persian (others).
The Zibaldone* was so large, but it would be great to own! One would also be diving into Latin, and Greek stuff, that's o.k., even necessary, but then Cicero, then some philosophers, and more ... Plotinus etc. It looks as though he was attracted to a more 'materialist' position, a kind of counter to Dante? Of course Dante is earlier.
I also like completing things. Or sometimes just having something I know I will never or unlikely read, ridiculous. But that is how we are. Reading for me is a way of travelling. Or it is a cheaper way!!
But you have almost a pantheon of people influenced by things Italian and the Unification.
Did you ever read Dante in Italian? It seems so dark for a classic (he has Ugolino and he puts Muhammed in Hell as a schismatic, better keep it under our hats! Vic asked or thought that fact showed Dante's satirical side, or his sense of humour!! Was that? I cant see it for the time. Maybe there is something to that -- it is called a comedy...It is good, but I can only read it in English. I believe Eliot started reading it as he had an English-Italian text and he almost memorised the Italian and the English before he had studied Italian! But as you once said his French was or must have been very good.
*It says Schopenhauer liked it and Beckett quoted it in his thesis on Proust...
Yes, I do regret not having bought the Zibaldone. To be honest, I couldn't really work out exactly what it was. So I bought his collected poetry and prose and left this bulky pair of tome to one side (they weren't cheap).
If I saw it again, I think I would buy it.
And, yes, I have read Dante in Italian. At university we went through the Inferno canto by canto, discussing and translating each one. After that I went through the other parts myself, with the best Italian edition I could find at the time.
I also own that Temple Classics edition Eliot used. The text is a bit dodgy in parts, but it's a very useful crib. There are some more up-to-date ones now (Charles Singleton did an excellent one), but they're far more bulky and can't be put in your pocket.
'Comedy' is more in the sense of Shakespeare's comedy - a work which culminates happily rather than in despair. Since Dante's journey ends in Paradise, it is by definition not tragic in nature, despite all the gruesomeness of the opening section. As for Mohammed, it was standard medieval doctrine to treat him as a Christian heretic rather than tbe originator of a new religion (new religion = false religion to any doctrinaire Christian, in any case).
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