The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis is an epistolary novel written by Ugo Foscolo, a Venetian writer and poet. Foscolo was also a revolutionary, and the work was inspired by political events occurring in Northern Italy during the Napoleonic era. The signing of the Treaty of Campo Formio forced Foscolo into exile in Milan and there are autobiographical events within the novel, so its political nature, specifically in dealing with the idea of Italian national identity, is prominent.
The Treaty of Campo Formio gave control of Venice to Austria and signified an end to the idea that Napoleon may be partial to the Italian nationalist cause. As such, Foscolo lost his homeland. Similarly, Jacopo is forced from his homeland, so the novel explores the idea of love of nation. This is not an abstraction of love but rather a love based in personal identity and culture. Without this connection to homeland, life becomes unlivable, and Jacopo responds to this despair by committing suicide.
This idea of love is further explored through the lens of personal relationships. Jacopo loves Theresa and wants to marry her. However, her father instead promotes an arranged marriage to benefit the family politically, socially, and economically. This arranged marriage mirrors the reasons for why the independence of Venice was not restored and serves to further reinforce the importance of connection with one’s homeland.