Giuseppe Giacosa can best be understood as man and as writer when placed in the natural setting that gives significance to his life and to his work: the breathtaking beauty of the Alps which surround Colleretto Parella, the Piemontese village where he was born on October 21, 1847, and where he died on September 1, 1906. The rugged life of the mountaineers and their courageous struggle against enormous odds transformed Giacosa’s admiration into a mythic celebration of their will to survive, lyrically expressed in his collection of short stories Novelle e paesi valdostani. The mountaineers’ brave acceptance of a cruel fate convinced Giacosa that a person at his or her best is “l’eroe del bisogno,” the hero of need, and that moral strength generates from a realistic appraisal of life. This view shapes the tragic flaw of several of his protagonists, who lack the ability to face financial ruin simply because they lack the moral strength to recognize the role of the will in overcoming misfortune.
Although Giacosa revealed his penchant for literary studies early in life, his father, a successful lawyer, convinced him to get a degree in law at the University of Turin. Giacosa complied, but without enthusiasm, and his first appearance in court was a disaster. Fortunately, his literary tendencies came to his rescue and enabled him to leave the bench forever. In March, 1872, Nuova Antologia published his dramatic legend The...
(The entire section is 463 words.)