Gabriele D'Annunzio Biography


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)
ph_0111207626-Dannunzio.jpg Gabriele D’Annunzio Published by Salem Press, Inc.

D’Annunzio published his first collection of poetry in 1879, and he served as a deputy in Italy’s Parliament from 1884 to 1904. In politics, he gained attention because of the literary quality of his fluent rhetoric, but he behaved unpredictably, creating scandals with his many love affairs, and he was forced into bankruptcy in 1910 because of his extravagant spending. A fervent Italian nationalist, he was a daring member of the national air force during World War I, and he was outraged when Italy did not receive its territorial claims after helping to win the war. In 1919, he led three hundred soldiers who captured the port city of Fiume (now Rijeka, Yugoslavia), and held it by force for a year.

D’Annunzio was an early advocate of many fascist ideas, and his own troops introduced the black shirt which became a symbol of the Fascist Party. Always maintaining close ties with the Fascist regime that came into power in 1922, he gave every appearance of supporting Benito Mussolini’s authoritarian policies—including tight regimentation of the press. In 1926, Mussolini arranged for a government-sponsored edition of D’Annunzio’s complete works, even though most of them were then on the Index. In 1937, Mussolini appointed D’Annunzio president of the Royal Italian Academy.

A versatile writer, D’Annunzio was praised for his imaginative and melodious style, but most critics considered the content of his many novels and plays...

(The entire section is 475 words.)

Gabriele D'Annunzio Biography

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Gabriele D’Annunzio was born on the Adriatic coast in the main town of the Abruzzi region, Pescara, to Francesco Paolo D’Annunzio and Luisa De Benedictis of the “pure Sabellian race.” His mother is reported to have said, “My son, you are born on a Friday and in March. Who knows what great things you will do in the world!” The prediction was borne out as he manifested his literary talent at an early age. A brilliant, precocious student at one of the best schools in Italy, the Liceo Cicognini in Prato, he published his first poem, “Ode a Re Umberto” (ode to King Umberto), in 1879. His first book of poems, Primo vere, followed that year. These works exhibited the influence of poet Giosuè Carducci’s Odi barbare (1877; Barbarian Odes, 1939); Carducci had attempted to bring Italian poetry from Romanticism back to its classical roots by experimenting with the rhythmic structure of Greek and Latin verse forms, while intensifying certain Romantic elements.

When he moved to Rome in 1881 to attend the university, D’Annunzio was already well known, having been praised by Giuseppe Chiarini in an enthusiastic article in Fanfulla della Domenica. D’Annunzio further increased his nascent fame by spreading a rumor of his death, showing the flamboyance that would mark his entire life. He became part of the literary and intellectual life of Rome and contributed to newspapers and reviews such as La cronaca bizantina, Il capitan Fracassa, and La tribuna. His second book of poetry, Canto novo, was praised; his third, however, Intermezzo di rime, aroused a fire storm of controversy, the first of many in his life. Considered too sensual, the book provoked a debate on decorum in literature and even drew sharp criticism from Chiarini, who believed that D’Annunzio had betrayed his promise with an immoral work. All this criticism merely made D’Annunzio more famous.

In 1884, his Il libro della vergini aroused another controversy, not only because of its contents but also because of a disagreement between author and publisher concerning the cover design. In 1885, D’Annunzio was wounded in the head in his second duel but went on with his writing, a year later publishing San Pantaleone, a collection of naturalistic sketches and stories influenced by Verga and de Maupassant. It, too, provoked the predictable culture shock, by now a trademark of D’Annunzio’s career. As if literary disputes were not enough, he became involved in politics, publishing L’armata d’Italia (1888; the Italian fleet), calling for Italy to build up its naval power.

His first novel, The Child of Pleasure, remains his most...

(The entire section is 1122 words.)

Gabriele D'Annunzio Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Gabriele D’Annunzio’s tumultuous life elicited great fascination from his contemporaries and nourished the works of his biographers with a number of romantic anecdotes. D’Annunzio himself orchestrated and publicized his “inimitable life,” paying careful attention to the preservation of his legend. His correspondence (more than ten thousand letters) also maintained and renewed, with countless details, the interest in his life.

This romantic aspect of D’Annunzio’s biography appears today outdated and even laughable; nevertheless, beyond the ostentatious facade there are elements of durable truth that bring into proper perspective the man and his work. D’Annunzio’s thirst for new experiences corresponds in fact to his indefatigable search for new literary solutions, and his existential adventures represent the prime source of his inspiration.

D’Annunzio was born in Pescara, a small and, at that time, somnolent little city on the coast of the Abruzzi region. His family belonged to the middle class and was wealthy enough to provide him with an excellent education. Young Gabriele did not feel a great respect for his father, nor did he show a particular attachment for his relatives, apart from a deep affection for his mother. It was not the family, but rather the Abruzzi region, with its primitive society dominated by ancestral laws, that influenced him deeply. The landscape, people, and folklore of his native land were to be a recurrent motif in D’Annunzio’s works.

D’Annunzio soon left his hometown for Prato, in Tuscany, where at the renowned Liceo Cicognini he received a solid preparation in the humanities. A brilliant student and a daring young rebel, D’Annunzio excelled in all his classes, protested against the strict discipline, and led his classmates in knavish escapades. Later, the recollection of these years would give substance to some beautiful pages of his memoir prose. D’Annunzio’s years in Prato culminated in 1879 with the publication of a collection of verses, Primo vere (early spring), which was very well received by the critics.

This first success opened the way to a brilliant literary career. In 1881, D’Annunzio was in Rome with the intention of pursuing his studies at the university, but soon he abandoned academia to embrace the elegant and worldly life of the capital. Brilliant contributor to journals and magazines, cherished guest of aristocratic and literary circles, D’Annunzio succeeded in combining an effervescent social life with unrelenting literary activity. After a romantic elopement, his marriage in 1883 to Maria Hardouin, duchess of Gallese, crowned the success of his social ambitions, and the publication of The Child of Pleasure (in Italian in 1889) consolidated his literary reputation. The marriage, which saw the birth of three children, was to last seven years. For the first four years, D’Annunzio seemed to accept an approximation of conventional domesticity, but in 1887, the encounter with Barbara, the wife of Count Leoni, precipitated the end of his already precarious union with Maria. His sensual passion for “Barbarella” inspired in part the novel The Triumph of Death and all the verses of Elegie romane (1892).

Naples, where D’Annunzio moved in 1891, represents another step in his life and writings. There he collaborated with his friend, Eduardo Scarfoglio, the editor of Il corriere di Napoli, in which he published his novel The Intruder in installments. D’Annunzio’s first engagement in politics dated from this time, with the publication of an article, “La bestia elettiva.” In this article he attacked universal suffrage, restating Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of the inevitable supremacy of one group over another. These aristocratic ideas constantly recur in his writings, and the influence of the German philosopher is particularly evident in the works of the next decade.

While in Naples, the love affair with Barbara came to an end, and the writer became involved with Princess Maria Gravina, who left her husband to live with him more uxorio. Two children were born from this union, but his love...

(The entire section is 1718 words.)

Gabriele D'Annunzio Biography

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Gabriele D’Annunzio was born in Pescara, a small port city in the Abruzzi region, on March 12, 1863, to a well-to-do family. He received a solid classical education at the Liceo Cicognini, in Prato, and when he was only sixteen years old, he published his first collection of verses, Primo vere (early spring).

In 1881, D’Annunzio moved to Rome, where he registered at the university in the department of Italian literature, but he never completed his university studies. He chose instead to pursue a writer’s career, consolidating his fame as a young poetic genius in the literary and aristocratic circles of the capital. During that time, he contributed verses, short stories, and articles to several...

(The entire section is 1068 words.)