The Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
In the second half of the 19th cent. Francesco De Sanctis, literary critic and historian, laid the theoretical and aesthetic foundations of modern Italian criticism, later elaborated by the philosopher Benedetto Croce. Giosuè Carducci brought to poetry a virility and classicism long absent. But Pascoli and D'Annunzio had a more lasting influence. Gabriele D'Annunzio, poet, novelist, and dramatist, employed sensuous, musical, and precious language. Giovanni Pascoli is Italy's great symbolist poet of the subconscious. The naturalistic, the irrational, and the decadent are also revealed in the work of the playwright and novelist Luigi Pirandello. Pirandello's prose roots are in Sicilian verismo, the impersonal, objective regionalism of Fiovanni Verga's works.
Major 20th-century novelists of note include Italo Svevo, Alberto Moravia, Giuseppe di Lampedusa, Elio Vittorini, Cesare Pavese, Italo Calvino, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Carlo Gadda, Leonardo Sciascia, and Natalia Ginzburg. Their work is variously marked by psychological analysis, social consciousness, and formal and linguistic experimentation. The outstanding poets are Giuseppe Ungaretti, Eugenio Montale, Umberto Saba, and Salvatore Quasimodo.
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