Newly awakened interest in Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), arguably the greatest Italian poet since the Renaissance, has resulted in this project to translate a major portion of his works. This volume is the first of four which will encompass the great Canti (in bilingual text), selections from the poet's correspondence, a substantial portion of his enormous intellectual journal, the Zibaldone, and the focus of the present volume, the Operette morali.
Originally planned as a set of dialogues in the manner of Lucian, the Operette is a compilation of brief, interrelated works on questions of moral philosphy. By means of numerous characters, and by means of a range of styles, Leopardi grapples with a theory of pleasure, the concepts of fame, the infinite, human happiness, the function of poetry, and other topics. In the poet's own opinion, the Operette represented his major philosophical speculation and ranked just below his Canti.
Leopardi is one of the greatest of poets and prose writers, and like Kleist and Baudelaire, a truly original, devastating sensibility. Nothing is more overdue than a proper edition of Leopardi in English. -- Susan Sontag