The art of the written word is very much alive in Italy. The country is home to some of the best writers and novelists in the world. Inspired perhaps by the beauty of the surroundings, with magnificent architecture and sandy beaches, and by the rich cultural heritage, these Italian authors have penned a number of exemplary works of literature.
Here are three of the best Italian authors and a list of their works, which I’m sure you will enjoy.
Some of the best Italian authors
Umberto Eco’s surname is an acronym meaning ex caelis oblatus, translated “a gift from the heavens”. He was born in Piedmont, in the city of Alessandria. His parents were Giulio and Giovanna. During World War II, his father was called to serve the war, forcing him and his mother to move to the village in the Piedmontese mountainside. Eco had a Salesian education, which he often referred to in his works.
Eco was the creator of an unusual program entitles Anthropology of the West, which ironically, was told from the perspective of people who DO NOT come from the west, such as Africans and Chinese, and defined using their own criteria. This was done at the University of Bologna in 1988 and led to a conference in China entitled “Frontiers of knowledge” in 1991. It developed into a unique trans-cultural network that gave birth to a series of seminars. One of the seminars is the “Misunderstandings in the Quest for the Universal”, a Euro-Chinese seminar along the silk trade route, which was from Guangzhou to Beijing. This was later turned into a book with the title “The Unicorn and the Dragon”, about the creation of knowledge in the countries in Europe and in China and the many questions about it. Contributors to this book includes Chinese and European Scholars like Tang Yijie, Yue Daiyun, Wang Bin, Antoine Danchin, Jacques Le Goff, Paolo Fabbri and Alain Rey
Style of Writing
Eco writes fictions, novels that are peppered with subtle references to history. Highly influenced by James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges, Eco’s masterpieces displays the concept of intertextuality, meaning the stories in his works are “inter-connected”.
- The Name of the Rose
One of Umberto Eco’s most noteworthy novels is this first one published in 1980, The Name of the Rose. It is a historical mystery about the murders inside a 14th century monastery. You will find it difficult to put it down as its main character, friar William of Baskerville and his assistant Adso play detective to solve the murders. As in true Eco fashion, there are many allusions to other sources, in effect, making it meta-textual.
Luigi Pirandello is an Italian novelist, poet and dramatist. He became popular because of his plays, earning him the Nobel Prize in Literature, for his extraordinary ability to translate psychological analysis into theatre. He wrote numerous short stories, novels and plays, mostly written in Sicilian.
Pirandello was born to Stefano and Caterina Ricci Gramitto, both coming from wealthy families, both vehemently anti-Bourbon. They both advocated democracy and unification. They both actively participated in efforts to achieve their advocacies, with Stefano joining the Expedition of the Thousand, and Caterina accompanying her father in his exile to Malta. Their idealist fervor, however, were transformed into resentment, most especially in Caterina, due to their disappointment of the new reality caused by the unification.
This situation can be traced in Pirandello’s poems and novels. They are somehow indicative of the young Luigi’s early exposure to the glaring disproportion between ideals, and reality.
- One, No One and One Hundred Thousand
Pirandello’s novel is entitled One, No One and One Hundred Thousand, took a long time to finish, from its conception in 1909 to its completion in 1926. He described this novel as the most bitter of all, with profound nuggets of wisdom delivered through humour.
Readers of the book will be engaged by its well-thought of plot about false projection imposed by social standards. The main character is Vitangelo, who discovers that the image he created about himself and what he believes himself to be, is different from the image that others have of it. This is a good read because the plot remains relevant even to this day. This is indeed one of my favourite books too.
Italo Calvino was born in the suburbs, in Santiago de las Vegas in Havana, Cuba in 1923. He was born to Mario, a botanist and an agriculture and horticulture teacher, an Eva, also a botanist and a professor. His father worked at the Ministry of Agriculture, a job that led to go to Mexico. It was his mother who gave him his name to always remind him of his Italian heritage. As fate would have it, Italo did not have the chance to forget his heritage since he actually wound up growing in Italy! Theirs is a middle-class family who remained conflict-free despite the differences in the personality of his parents.
- The Crow Comes Last (Ultimo viene il corvo)
The Crow Comes Last was critically acclaimed in 1949. It is a collection of stories about Calvino’s experiences during the war. The accolade that this book received made Calvino wary that he might not be able to repeat the feat.
There are a lot of good reads from these authors, namely:
- Foucault’s Pendulum (1988), about three men who pretended to invent a conspiracy theory of taking over the world.
- The Island of the Day Before (1994), about a man who got trapped in a boat because of his inability to swim to the nearby island.
- Baudolino (2000) is about the rescue of the historian Niketas Choniates during the Fourth Crusade.
- Il visconte dimezzato (1952; The Cloven Viscount), a book about the war, indicative of Italo Calvino’s apprehension of the Cold War.
- Fiabe Italiane (1956; Italian Folktales), commissioned by Giulio Einaudi
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about Italian literature. Do you know any other author?