17th Century (Seicento)

Italian literature, the independence of Italian compared to Latin, has been palpable at least since the 10th century, yet an independent Italian literature did not emerge until two centuries later. For more articles about Italy and Europe, please follow Ehistorylib.


Parallel to the political, economic and social upheavals in Italy towards the end of the 16th century, Italian literature lost its exemplary role in Europe. A changed attitude towards life and changed taste heralded themselves in the work of T. Tassos , v. a. but G. Marinos on. If the latter opened up new, fantastic content for poetry, which went hand in hand with an “astonishing” transformation of language (epic “Adone”, 1623; Marinismus), the following authors limited themselves to pale imitations dominated by the fashion of the concetti (e.g. G. Chiabrera).

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Important works of Italian literature (selection)



  • Dante: “Divina Commedia” (probably created 1305-21; German “The Divine Comedy”)
  • L. Ariosto: “Orlando furioso” (complete 1532; German “Der rasende Roland”)
  • T. Tasso: “La Gerusalemme liberata” (1581; German “The liberated Jerusalem”)


  1. G. Boccaccio: »Il Decamerone« (created 1348–53; German »Das Dekameron«)


  • A. Manzoni: “I promessi sposi” (1st version 1827; German “Die Verlobten”)
  • G. Verga: »I Malavoglia« (1881; German »The Malavoglias«)
  • G. D’Annunzio: “Il piacere” (1889; German “Lust”)
  • I. Svevo: “La coscienza di Zeno” (1923; German “Zeno’s conscience”)
  • A. Moravia: »Gli indifferenti« (1929; German »The indifferent«)
  • P. Levi: “Se questo è un uomo” (1947; German “Is that a person? Memories of Auschwitz”)
  • G. Tomasi di Lampedusa: “Il gattopardo” (1958; German “The Leopard”)
  • I. Calvino: “Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore” (1979; German “When a traveler on a winter night”)
  • U. Eco: “Il nome della rosa” (1980; German “The name of the rose”)


  • F. Petrarca: »Il canzoniere« (created 1336–69; German »Canzoniere«)
  • Vittoria Colonna: »Rime« (1558; German »Sonnets«)
  • G. Marino: »La lira« (1614; German »Sonnets and Madrigals«)
  • G. Leopardi: “Canti” (1831, later expanded; German “Gesänge”)
  • G. Carducci: »Odi barbare« (1877–89; German selection)
  • G. Pascoli: »Myricae« (1892; German selection)
  • G. D’Annunzio: “Laudi del cielo, del mare, della terra e degli eroi” (1903–33)
  • G. Ungaretti: »Allegria di naufragi« (1919; German »Die Heiterkeit«)
  • E. Montale: »Finisterre« (1943; German »Nach Finisterre«)
  • S. Quasimodo: “Giorno dopo giorno” (1947; German “day by day”)
  • E. Sanguineti: »Segnalibro. Poetry 1951–1981 «(1982; German selection)


  • A. Poliziano: “Favola di Orfeo” (1494; German “Die Tragödie des Orpheus”)
  • N. Machiavelli: »Mandragola« (1524; German)
  • GB Guarini: »Il pastor fido« (1590; German »The loyal shepherd«)
  • P. Metastasio: “Didone abbandonata” (1724)
  • C. Goldoni: “Il servitore di due padroni” (1753; German “The servant of two masters”)
  • L. Pirandello: “Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore” (1921; German “Six people are looking for an author”)
  • D. Fo: »Mistero buffo« (1969; German)

Essay writing and literary criticism

  • N. Machiavelli: “Il principe” (1532; German “Der Fürst”)
  • F. De Sanctis: “Storia della letteratura italiana” (1870/71; German “History of Italian Literature”)
  • B. Croce: “Estetica come scienza dell’espressione e linguistica generale” (1902; German among other things as “Aesthetics as a science of expression and general linguistics”)
  • FT Marinetti: “Manifesto del futurismo” (1909; German “Manifesto of Futurism”)

Dialect poetry – this also includes G. Basile’s collection of Neapolitan folk tales “Lo cunto de li cunti” (published 1634–36, since 1674 under the title “Pentamerone”) – on the one hand and heroic-comic epic – such as B. A. Tassoni’s epic “La secchia rapita” (1622) – on the other hand, testify to the literary ways out. In 1633, the genre of literary travesty was founded across Europe by Giovanbattista Lalli ‘s »Eneide travestita«, a retelling in the lowly comical style of the epic fable of Virgil’s»Aeneid«. G. Lallis Due to its blatant criticism of the authority of ancient authors, which was still respected in humanism, the work can claim an important position in the “Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes” and was imitated in France by P. Scarron (“Le Virgile Travesty”, 1648–52). G. Galilei broke the primacy of Latin in scientific literature in his writings. Philosophers of rank were v. a. G. Bruno and T. Campanella.

17th Century (Seicento)