A review from Open Letters Monthly
Hard to imagine a bleaker prospect for the future: you are a writer of genius, but you are trapped in a small village in the retrograde 19th century Papal States. You are unable to leave the household that is run by a cold, fanatically religious mother and a father who, having been through the turbulence of the Napoleonic period, is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. As the son of a nobleman, it was not proper for you to attend public schools, so priests privately tutored you until you knew more than they did. You then read systematically through your father’s library, learning several classical and modern languages, and ruining both your eyesight and your already fragile health in the process. You are a hunchback, suffered from many real and imaginary maladies, were derided for your scholarly pretensions, and your hope of finding a soul of the opposite sex who would reciprocate your love was virtually nonexistent.
You were cut off by distance from the centers of European intellectual life, such as Paris and Weimar, your only means of communications was letters, and yet and yet…despite all odds, you became one of greatest Italian poets and philosophers, a living link between Rousseau and Nietzsche. [Read More]
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