Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry)
Giuseppe Ungaretti was born on February 8, 1888, to Italian parents, Antonio and Maria Ungaretti, in Alexandria, Egypt. Ungaretti’s parents had emigrated from an area near Lucca, Italy, to Egypt, where his father, who was employed for a short time at the Suez Canal site, contracted an illness that was to lead to his death in 1890. The Ungarettis had opened a bakery in the Arab quarter of the city, however, and Maria Ungaretti, after her husband’s death, continued this business quite successfully.
Ungaretti’s education was French, but he was familiar with the Italian intellectual scene in Alexandria. He knew the Italian writer Enrico Pea and frequented Pea’s house, called the baracca rossa, a gathering place for anarchists. At this time, the period between 1906 and 1912, Ungaretti’s interests included politics, for he wrote and published some political essays. More important, however, Ungaretti came to know several writers both from Alexandria and abroad. He corresponded with Giuseppe Prezzolini, editor of the important literary magazine La voce. It was through Prezzolini, in part, that Ungaretti met many of the most notable writers and artists of his day when he finally left Alexandria in 1912, at the age of twenty-four, to travel to Italy and then to Paris.
Paris was the place of Ungaretti’s first self-awakening. There, he met with men such as artists Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Leger, Giorgio Di...
(The entire section is 861 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Giuseppe Ungaretti (ewng-gah-REHT-tee) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, and spent his first twenty-four years there. In 1912 he moved to Paris, where, while attending the Sorbonne, he met many gifted artists, including the poets Paul Valéry and Guillaume Apollinaire and the painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Ungaretti joined the Italian army when World War I broke out, and during the war he continued to write and to develop his skill as a poet. Like many writers of his generation, Ungaretti was strongly influenced by various aspects of modernism, with its rejection of many traditional views of the nature and function of art.
According to the modernist perspective, advances in physical science had proved traditional views of religion, ethics, and the human psyche to be superstitious nonsense, and, consequently, such views were regarded as reactionary and irrelevant. One seemingly insoluble implication of this new worldview was that it left the individual isolated in a universe whose only reality was that of physics and chemistry, and, despite the many conveniences afforded by new technology, few found great comfort in that version of reality. The destruction wrought in Europe by new technology and old politics during World War I certainly forced writers and other artists to recognize that the new era had brought its own horrors. Like the...
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Giuseppe Ungaretti was born February 10, 1888, in Alexandria, Egypt. His parents were Italian immigrants who moved to Egypt when his father accepted a job as a laborer on the construction of the Suez Canal. When Ungaretti was two years old, his father died, and his mother supported the family with earnings from a job at a bakery in an Italian section of Alexandria. Ungaretti attended schools in Egypt until 1912, when he left for Paris to study at the Sorbonne. During his university years Ungaretti became acquainted with various artists and poets, including Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, and his own poems were first published in 1915 in a French journal.
At the beginning of World War I, Ungaretti was sent to fight in Carso in northern Italy, the scene of some of the war’s bloodiest battles. His horrific experiences there became the subject of much of his early poetry, and he later admitted that the brief, sparse style of writing he developed was inspired by the fact that life was minute-to-minute in the trenches. Every soldier had to live as though his next breath was his last. His writing career was established in 1916 with the publication of Il porto sepolto (The Buried Harbor). This work, based on his experiences as a soldier, introduced him as a young, new force in twentieth-century poetry and marked the beginning of a great revival in Italian literature.
After the war Ungaretti married Jeanne Dupoix in 1919. Two years...
(The entire section is 452 words.)