Other Literary Forms
Vittorio Alfieri’s love of liberty and hate of tyranny resulted in several poetic works. In L’America libera (1784; Alfieri’s Ode to America’s Independence, 1976), the poet exalts the Americans who rebelled against English tyranny. He wrote the first four odes in 1781 and added one more in 1783. The first describes the reasons for the American War of Independence, the second enumerates the participants, the third speaks about the Marquis de Lafayette, the fourth praises George Washington, and the fifth is dedicated to the peace of 1783 and ends with a pessimistic note: What is there to rejoice about? asks the author—only force reigns. Alfieri also glorified the fall of the Bastille in the ode Parigi sbastigliata (1789; Paris without the Bastille).
Alfieri expressed the same sentiments about freedom in his political prose, but more coherently and systematically. The treatise Della tirannide (1789; Of Tyranny, 1961), written in 1777, condemns even the most reformed monarchs as wanting only obedient subjects: From the highest nobleman to the poorest peasant, all must follow orders; the king’s subjects are mere victims. Alfieri concludes that it is better not to marry, in order not to create new victims. Del principe e delle lettere (1789; The Prince and Letters, 1972) expounds the same theme with equal passion. It deals with the relationship between a prince and men of letters. A...
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