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...
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