The historical novel, which from the civil end had derived the reasons and elements of his life, lost vogue after the middle of the century and was transformed, also by the action of the French novels by Stendhal, Balzac and Giorgio Sand, in a novel of contemporary customs and private facts. Vast, but inorganic representation of the Italian world from the Peace of Aachen to the Cinque Giornate are The Hundred Years of Giuseppe Rovani, which can be compared for the breadth of the canvas The Confessions of an Italian of Ippolito Nievo; but they far surpass them for the value of art, a stupendous painter of environments and characters, and by now resolutely intended to draw from the historical novel the psychological novel, which had forms of life, figures of a morality derived from experiences personal, also by Tommaseo and Giovanni Ruffini. But the psychological novel disputed in the last twenty years of the century. The naturalist novel, which was partly autonomous and partly conducted in the footsteps of Flaubert, Zola, Maupassant, to the academy and mannerism of decadent romantics, with a great claim to objectivity, with a ostentation of scientific theories, with a meticulous care in the descriptions of the external world. Interpreter in his critical writings and happy creator of the doctrine in his novels (Giacinta , The Marquis of Roccaverdina ) was Luigi Capuana; but the great artist of that literary movement was Giovanni Verga, who from the psychologism of the manner of his first novels, rose with the wing of genius to the frank, austere, profound representation of the life of the middle class and of the humble classes especially of his Sicily, infusing you with the sense of a painful tragic fatality and of a human religiosity in which the primitive roughness of the souls on stage is ennobled ( I Malavoglia , Mastro Don Gesualdo , Novelle rusticane , etc.).
Artistic realism, while part of the broad European positivist movement, corresponded to the need, badly satisfied by early Romanticism, to get Italian literature out of the abstraction of the old classical tradition, guardian of a dignity foolishly enemy of the concrete. Hence, alongside the great Sicilian novelist, there were others representing regional realism, each with its own characteristics, such as Matilde Serao, bold evocative of Neapolitan bourgeois life, the remembered Renato Fucini and, younger, Grazia Deledda , which portrays the primitive and melancholy austerity of his Sardinia, and Ferdinando Paolieri, a descriptor of the landscapes and life of the Maremma with touches and attitudes that make him a participant in other recent trends in narrative art.
According to Itypetravel, the realism that deepens in the analysis and representation of souls and historical periods is that of Federico De Roberto, who with The Illusion , of Flaubertian inspiration, and I Vicerè , gave literature works of non-transitory originality. Certainly Emilio De Marchi and Alfredo Oriani were also influenced by realism; but their most marked tendencies are indeed towards a psychologism which implies greater intimacy of representations; free and happy continuer of Manzoni, the first, in novels ( The priest’s hat , Demetrio Pianelli , Giacomo the idealist, etc.), which bear the imprint of a heartfelt and indulgent contemplation of the sadness of life and of a good-natured Ambrosian wit; acrid and tenacious investigator of the life of the spirit, the second, who in the novels of maturity ( The defeat , The vortex , The holocaust , etc.) represented it with sincerity of conviction, with vivid luxuriance of images, with that breath of high poetry that also breathes on his historical works ( Up to Dogali , The political struggle , etc.).
As a narrator, D’Annunzio first followed the suggestion of the Italian and French realists ( Terra vergine , Novelle della Pescara ); but then the psychologism of the Russian and again French novel attracted him, and he scrutinized and described the complex refinements of human sensuality in the early novels from Pleasure to the Innocent , and represented the Nietzschean type of superman posited, for his qualities as ruler, of beyond good and evil, in the novels that followed, from the Triumph of death to Perhaps that yes perhaps that no, always showing off his magnificent gifts as a stylist and creator of human and landscape images, admirable in terms of evidence and representative vigor; qualities that later in works of autobiographical contemplation and meditation are manifested in tritumes rather than in organic style groups, perhaps due to the action of the new literary directions.
The same age as that of D’Annunzio is the artistic maturity of Antonio Fogazzaro, who in his novels ( Malombra , Piccolo Mondo Antico , Piccolo Mondo Moderna , Daniele Cortis , The mystery of the poet, etc.) embodied his very noble moral and religious world, portraying souls and this representation of spiritual intimacy with finesse of analysis, harmonizing, in its best things, in homogeneous unity with the representation of the external world. As in most of his contemporaries, also in Fogazzaro are traces of Russian and French psychologism; he often animates his story with a breath of wit, which we will not do him the wrong of saying Manzoni, because it is all of him; he draws and colors ambient pictures full of character and, especially among the secondary characters, figures alive with palpitating truth; but unfortunately the moral or religious or civil thesis often harms the art of Fogazzaro, who in his last novels has an all too evident intention of propaganda.
Among the writers who, more or less at the same time as the last named, dealt with the intent of pure art or education, narrative or descriptive matter, we should still remember Vittorio Bersezio, a fruitful author of short stories and novels not marked by a vigorous personal press; Anton Giulio Barrili, who perhaps wasted his not vulgar qualities of versatility, psychological penetration, human sympathy due to the haste of composing; Alberto Cantoni, singular for his qualities of critical humor; Salvatore Farina, straightforward good-natured plan; Alberto Pisani Dossi (Carlo Dossi) who expressed his world of aristocratic and shy wit in an energetic and precious prose; Carlo Lorenzini (Collodi), dear for his Adventures of Pinocchio to many generations of children, and most fortunate of all, Edmondo De Amicis, author of travel books, narrator of short stories and historical episodes, acute observer and descriptor of social psychology, agile spirit, to whom the compassionate sense of human pain tempered in the mature age the languid optimism of early writings. More by example than by the insultingly witty precepts of the Gentile Idiom , he was also an effective apostle of that kind of quick and careless prose. that even for the work of the best journalists has driven the artificial classicism of the sixteenth century out of the seat with its true intimate classicism.
Younger among the narrators, Alfredo Panzini, whose intellectual formation falls in the last decades of the nineteenth century, and the best flower of his art in the years of the new century before the war. Between the vulgarities, the falsehoods and the fatuities of modern social life, Panzini caresses his nostalgic love for the old provincial world, quiet, serene, homely. There is in him the sense of poetry that comes from sweet dreams, from tender affections, from an honest conscience; and from the disagreement between the ideal and reality, a state of mind is born that is formed in ironies, in bitter jokes, in melancholy smiles, in humorous attitudes: in the beautiful prose of the best writings of Panzini ( Le fiabe della Virtue ; La lantern of Diogenes ; Santippe ; The madonna di mama ; The journey of a poor man of letters , etc.); a prose of classical temper for its limpid and melodious simplicity, for the primeval ingenuity of its structures, for the aura of humanity that breathes from it. It is a pity that the critical awareness of his being makes Panzini’s art degenerate in a way, and that he believes it to be a possible form not only of fantastic conceptions, but of historical writings, which are unable to live the life of his thought. .