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His writing, which repudiates existence, enriches our own; his diary in English represents an almost embarrassing increase in our accounts. The book of twenty million pages is life, and is also the Zibaldone , inexhaustible and worthy of endless meditation.

Zibaldone: The Notebooks of Leopardi

This complete Zibaldone gives us. Perhaps this book is most significant as a vast objective correlative—bringing us as close as we can come, or want to come, to the brilliant bleakness of his inner life. Yet unlike the majority of his predecessors or successors, the Romantic poet Giacomo Leopardi compiled his Zibaldone — Italian for mishmash — during his twenties and thirties, not that this was unusual considering his precocious education.

Lo Zibaldone

He spent most of his adolescence ensconced in his father's impressive library, from which he emerged crippled by scoliosis, his health wrecked for life. Beginning his Zibaldone at 19, Leopardi had produced roughly 3, of its 4, pages by 26 — and when he put the finishing touches on it in , five years prior to his death, the book stood at just under a million words. Coincidentally, Leopardi put the Zibaldone aside just as Goethe finished the second part of his Faust, and the two share a fascination with the notion that humanity had sold its soul to the devil for progress, thereby losing the very instincts that made us human in the first place.

As Leopardi puts it: "As man moves away from nature and toward society, the methods that nature hasprovided for attaining those ends are changed or replaced by other methods… as man loses his natural happiness… so, too, he loses his actual power of instinct, and those inborn methods for achieving this happiness.

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He was among the first to contest the concept of eternal space and eternal time: "Nothing in nature actually announces infinity, the existence of anything infinite. Infinity is a product of our imagination, and at the same time of our smallness and our pride. Special and signed editions.

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Canti Giacomo Leopardi. Dialogue between Fashion and Death Giacomo Leopardi. About the Author.

Giacomo Leopardi Giacomo Leopardi , Italy's first and greatest modern poet, was also a critic, philosopher and philologist. Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more. Please enter an email.


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Has Leopardi got us wrong? Author of over 20 books, her Translation Studies, 3rd ed. Her recent publications in the field include: The Translator as Writer, ed. He has published on a wide range of Italian literature, particularly medieval and modern poetry, and co-edited with David Robey the Oxford Companion to Italian Literature