Other Literary Forms
Giovanni Verga is best known as a novelist and a short-story writer and is generally considered Italy’s greatest novelist, after Alessandro Manzoni, and the father of the contemporary Italian novel, especially that of the neorealist school. His name is closely associated with the term Verismo, which was the Italian manifestation of French naturalism. Verismo, or Verism , as explicated by Verga’s close friend Luigi Capuana , like naturalism, rejected the current artistic trends that preferred historical and Romantic subjects, extraordinary events, aristocratic characters, sentimentality, and elegant and sophisticated language, in favor of contemporary subjects dealing with contemporary individuals and social problems of middle-class and working-class people, in a rational and straightforward style. Yet while naturalism primarily considered the problems of an urban and industrial society, related by narrators equipped with positivistic explanations, Verismo concentrated on the problems of rural and small-town life in the provinces, particularly of southern Italy, and emphasized the practice of the “impersonality of the author”—that is, that the characters should speak for themselves.
Verga’s youthful works were still very much in the Romantic tradition. His first published work, I carbonari della montagna (1861-1862; the mountain Carbonari), is a historical novel based on the Italian Risorgimento. He...
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