Other Literary Forms
Giovanni Pascoli dabbled in Dante criticism, and between 1898 and 1902 he wrote Minerva oscura (1898; dark Minerva), Sotto il velame (1900; under the veil), and La mirabile visione (1902; the marvelous vision). His assertion that La divina commedia (c. 1320; The Divine Comedy) “is not a strong and living poetic organism, a harmonious whole . . . but a great ocean, in which the poetic moments are the pearls” was not well received, although he did influence the views of the scholar Luigi Pietrobono. Pascoli’s critical essays are more revealing of Pascoli himself than they are of the works that he attempts to interpret. In defense of Italian colonial activity in Africa, Pascoli wrote the essay “La grande proletaria s’e mossa” (the great proletariat has moved) in 1911.
In his famous essay “Il fanciullino” (the little boy), written in 1897, Pascoli explains his theory of poetry, derived from the story of the child who led the blind poet Homer by the hand. A true poet, says Pascoli, listens to the child within him, to what the child sees and perceives. The blind man’s fanciullino strives not to become famous but only to be understood. In his endeavor to present as many objects as a child sees in a world that is always new and beautiful, Pascoli found fault with literary Italian, cramped by classical tradition and condemned to an extremely restricting “poetic” vocabulary, and he invented...
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