Critical Evaluation

(Essentials of European Literature)

Antonio Fogazzaro, one of the great authors of the period of Italian history known as the risorgimento, was a native of Vicenza, Italy. Like his contemporary Giovanni Verga, he successfully combined reminiscences of his homeland with modern realism, and themes of local culture with universal themes, thus creating a new type of literature popular in Italy around the turn of this century. Fiction of this type is still read and studied in Italy, but unfortunately it has never been as popular elsewhere because of its strong regionalistic flavor and concern with highly specific national issues.

THE SAINT was the third novel in the trilogy in which Fogazzaro expressed his deepest intellectual and religious concerns; it followed PICCOLO MONDO ANTICO (1896, THE PATRIOT), perhaps the author’s finest novel, and PICCOLO MONDO MODERNO (1900, THE MAN OF THE WORLD), sometimes translated as THE SINNER. The main character of THE SAINT, the pious monk Benedetto, preaches for the reformation of the Church and is in turn forced to leave his monastery because members of the local clergy do not want their corruption revealed to the people. The monk devotes all of his energies to the poor, until a vision compels him to seek an audience with the pope and warn him of the four great sins of the modern-day Church which must be overcome if it is to survive. (It is interesting to note that Fogazzaro himself requested...

(The entire section is 579 words.)