Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Giuseppe Ungaretti published literary and critical essays as well as poetry. Perhaps as a consequence of the negative criticism his work drew at first, Ungaretti was concerned to show his connection with the greatest voices of the Italian literary tradition. In discussing the importance of Giacomo Leopardi, Petrarch, or the poets of the Baroque period, Ungaretti provided a framework that assists in the interpretation of his own work. These essays also contain autobiographical information and descriptions of travel and foreign places.

Ungaretti translated poetry by such diverse figures as William Shakespeare, William Blake, Luis de Góngora y Argote, Sergei Esenin, Jean Paulhan, Saint-John Perse, and Jean Racine. Notable for the English reader is Ungaretti’s essay on Shakespeare’s sonnets, “Significato dei sonetti di Shakespeare,” in Vita d’un uomo: Saggi e interventi (1974; life of a man: essays and interventions), and an essay accompanying his translations of Blake.