Italian Literature Through the Ages

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What was the Sicilian School known for?

Who is regarded as the standard bearer of the influence of Florence on the Renaissance in the Italian states?

Who wrote La Divina Commedia?

What is the Dolce Stil Novo?

Which Italian writer is known for being one of the most controversial authors in the history of Italy?

What is the Decameron?

Who is credited with inventing the sonnet?

What was the Reali di Francia by Andrea da Barberino known for?

What was the focus of the Italian Renaissance?


Italian National and Regional Literature

  • Italian literature is written in the Italian language and may also refer to literature written by Italians or in other languages spoken in Italy.

  • Italian literature begins in the 12th century with the Italian vernacular starting to be used in a literary manner.

  • The Sicilian School became notable for being the first style in standard Italian in 1230.

  • Renaissance humanism developed during the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries, with early Italian humanists like Francesco Petrarca and Marsilio Ficino.

  • The Italian nobleman, statesman, and mecenate Lorenzo de Medici is regarded as the standard bearer of the influence of Florence on the Renaissance in the Italian states.

  • The development of the drama in the 15th century was significant.

  • In the 18th century, the political condition of the Italian states began to improve, and philosophers disseminated their writings and ideas throughout Europe during the Age of Enlightenment.

  • The Romantic movement had as its organ the Conciliatore, established in 1818 at Milan.

  • Giovanni Pascoli, Italo Svevo, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Umberto Saba, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Eugenio Montale, and Luigi Pirandello are some important early 20th-century Italian writers.

  • Pier Paolo Pasolini became notable for being one of the most controversial authors in the history of Italy.

  • Umberto Eco became internationally successful with the Medieval detective story Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose, 1980).

  • The earliest vernacular literary tradition in Italy was in Occitan, a language spoken in parts of northwest Italy, with troubadours (trovatori in Italian) practicing in Italy from the end of the 12th century.Emergence of Italian Vernacular Literature in the 13th Century

  • French and Occitan languages gave way to native Italian in the 13th century.

  • Italian vernacular literature existed before the 13th century, but it lacked uniform stylistic or linguistic traits.

  • The earliest Italian literature was religious and intended to be recited to the people, written in a dialect of Lombard and Venetian.

  • The Sicilian School emerged in 1230, marking the beginning of a literature showing more uniform traits and creating the first standard Italian.

  • The French influence of love poetry in Sicilian School resulted in less erotic, more platonic treatment of women, and the creation of new Italian vocabulary.

  • The Sicilian School poets included Giacomo da Lentini, credited with inventing the sonnet, and others like Enzio, king of Sardinia, and Pietro della Vigna.

  • The censorship imposed by Frederick II meant no political matter entered literary debate, which was later introduced in Dante's Commedia.

  • Religious literature in the 13th century saw a rise in the Dominican and Franciscan Orders, and the earliest preserved sermons in Italian are from Jordan of Pisa, a Dominican.

  • Jacopone da Todi, a satirist, mocked the corruption and hypocrisy of the Church, and wrote poetry that showed St. Francis's mysticism.

  • Tuscany, which spoke a dialect resembling Latin, became the center of Italian literature, with popular love poetry, humorous and satirical poetry, and philosophical poetry.

  • Guittone d'Arezzo attempted political poetry, while Guido Guinizelli's poetry refuted the traditional credo of courtly love and marked a great development in Italian art.

  • Major allegorical poems like Tesoretto by Brunetto Latini and Francesco da Barberino's works also emerged in the 13th century.Italian Literature: A Historical Overview

  • Italian prose of the 13th century was abundant and varied, with no sign of literary prose in Italian, though there was in French.

  • The 13th century was rich in tales, with a collection called the Cento Novelle antiche containing stories drawn from many sources.

  • Dolce Stil Novo was a school of poetry consisting of Lapo Gianni, Guido Cavalcanti, Cino da Pistoia, and Dante Alighieri.

  • Dante Alighieri wrote La Vita Nuova in 1293, which idealizes love and is a collection of poems to which Dante added narration and explication.

  • La Divina Commedia, written by Dante, is an allegorical epic poem where Dante travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

  • Petrarch was the first humanist and the first modern lyric poet, who loved Laura and celebrated her in poems full of studied elegance.

  • Petrarch's Canzoniere is divided into three parts: the first containing the poems written during Laura's lifetime, the second the poems written after her death, the third the Trionfi.

  • Giovanni Boccaccio had the same enthusiastic love of antiquity and the same worship for the new Italian literature as Petrarch.

  • Boccaccio was the first historian of women in his De mulieribus claris, and the first to tell the story of the great women of history.

  • The Decameron, written by Boccaccio, is a collection of novellas that takes place during the Black Death and has ten characters telling stories to pass the time.

  • The Renaissance was a period of great cultural change and achievement that began in Italy in the 14th century.

  • The Italian Renaissance saw a revival of interest in classical learning, literature, and art, with an emphasis on humanism, individualism, and secularism.Italian Literature in the 14th and 15th Centuries

  • Boccaccio was a major writer of the 14th century, known for his works in various genres, including poetry, prose, and geography.

  • His most famous work is the Decamerone, a collection of 100 novels written during the plague of 1348.

  • Other notable writers of the time include Petrarch, who was friends with Boccaccio but had a different temperament, and Ser Giovanni Fiorentino, who wrote a collection of tales called Pecorone.

  • Religious literature was also important during this time, with Catherine of Siena and Giovanni Colombini preaching reform and Bianco da Siena writing religious poetry.

  • The 15th century saw the rise of humanism, with scholars emphasizing practical, pre-professional, and -scientific studies and a focus on the humanities.

  • Early humanists like Petrarch were great collectors of antique manuscripts, and the educational program won rapid acceptance among the upper classes in Italy.

  • Literature during this time was heavily influenced by the Medici family, particularly Cosimo and Lorenzo de Medici.

  • Notable writers during this time included Leone Battista Alberti, Vespasiano da Bisticci, Andrea da Barberino, and Girolamo Benivieni.

  • The Reali di Francia by Andrea da Barberino was particularly noteworthy for its beautiful prose and chivalrous romances.

  • Lorenzo de Medici was particularly influenced by the ancients, attending the class of the Greek scholar John Argyropoulos.

  • The Medici family also supported the arts, with Lorenzo de Medici himself writing poetry and supporting artists like Botticelli and Michelangelo.


Test your knowledge on Italian National and Regional Literature with this informative quiz! From the emergence of Italian vernacular literature in the 13th century to the great cultural achievements of the Renaissance, explore the works of famous Italian writers like Boccaccio, Dante, Petrarch, and more. Discover the evolution of Italian literature and its impact on the development of the Italian language. This quiz is perfect for literature enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone interested in the rich cultural heritage of Italy.

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