Puggioni, Salvatore (2008) Ippolito Pindemonte, Epistole e Sermoni: edizione commentata. [Tesi di dottorato]
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The figure of Ippolito Pindemonte, recalled mainly for his distinguished activity as translator and for his production of rural poetry, takes his place in a significant historical-cultural conjuncture where, at European level, typical late eighteenth-century tendencies and sensitiveness intertwine, often with results that have not been thoroughly examined and defined.
The notoriety gained throughout the Veronese poet's life - it suffices to think, incidentally, of the relationships he had with renowned figures of the time, such as, Parini, Cesarotti, Alfieri and Foscolo, - gradually declined during the nineteenth century, despite the author's unquestionable literary qualities. Only during more recent years, has the attention of the critics, also and mainly due to a more historicizing rereading, tried - and is still trying today - to revalue Pindemonte's works particularly by concentrating on the study of the points of contact between biographical events and poetical results. The aim is to understand more accurately the poet's standing which is continually balanced between the cult of classicism and already romantic elements and which is rethought and remodulated, as stated by the poet himself with lucid awareness in one of his sermons, in a melancholy vein.
A detailed and updated study which is functional to the spanning of the thought and aesthetic tendencies with which the author represented a period of history featuring changes of fundamental importance, is certainly lacking. From this perspective, the revisitation of the epistolary corpus and of the later collection of satirical compositions - texts that were excluded from critic's interest also due to the prevailing literary fortune of the famous translation of the Homeric poem and of the overall volume of Prose e poesie campestri - may enable us to focus on aspects in Pindemonte that have not yet been addressed with sufficient attention by the exiguous tradition of studies.
Consequently, this study intends reproposing, with sufficient comments, a substantial series of works in unrhymed hendecasyllables, conceived and delivered for printing over a broad period of time, largely between 1778 and 1819. More precisely, these works consist in the epistles written during different periods of time and included in the collection entitled Versi di Polidete Melpomenio, published in Bassano by Remondini, in 1784, and edited by Aurelio De' Giorgi Bertola; in Epistole, published in Verona by Gambaretti, in 1805, and subsequently in Florence by Molini; in Sermoni, which was published in Verona by Società Tipografica, in 1819, after being opposed at length by the censorship office in Venice. Two further epistles written in hendecasyllables may be added to the above list of works, Ad Omero and A Virgilio, printed for the first time in the small volume that includes the Traduzione de' due primi canti dell' «Odissea» e di alcune parti delle «Georgiche», published in Verona by Gambaretti, in 1809. With reference to the latter epistles, in this edition, the version reviewed by the author and published in 1825-26 in an anthology of Versi attached to the edition of Elogi di letterati (Verona, Tipografia Libanti) is referred to.
The absence of a systematic critical-historiographical tradition has therefore called for a general overall rereading, from which the advantages and at the same time the difficulty of certain possible new lines of research have emerged; currently, these are not easily practicable owing to the publishing status of Pindemonte's opera omnia, which is still provisional. The epistles written in youth, although evidently of an occasional nature and showing different degrees of stylistic maturity, clearly reveal the author's adherence to neoclassical aesthetics, which is embraced and re-elaborated also according to the renowned Winkelmannian values and is included in an Enlightened view of the world: from this standpoint, therefore, the troubled aspiration to perfectible beauty, intended as the result of a constant dialogue with the classical model, turns into the search for greatness and, concurrently, perhaps also owing to the heritage of Masonic experience, revocatio ad virtutem. This is, indeed, the same underlying tension that also drives the condemnation of the horrors of the war in the following Epistole, and the stigmatization of man's vices in the later Sermoni.
The rereading of the two antiquis illustrioribus cantos is also of extreme interest for a specific evaluation of Pindemonte's poetry: his Homeric and Virgilian experiences undeniably cross the border of purely learned and scholarly activities, and become the primary source of the Veronese poet's artistic vocation. Thus, the author develops a conception of poetry that is primarily founded, according to the teachings of Horatio's lessons, on the meeting point between ars and ingenium. The constant exercise of translation from classical languages also appears to be a knowledgeable attempt to perform a literary mediation between Ancient and Modern. In conclusion, the profile of a poet emerges from the revisitation of the considerable corpus of the Epistole and the Sermoni who embodies the complex tension between continuity and discontinuity in modern traditions, and who, owing to this ferment, difficultly falls within strict historiographical patterns.
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