17. Giovanni Carmelo Verga (1840 – 1922)

Italian realist (Verismo) writer, best known for his depictions of life in Sicily, the short story (and later play) Cavalleria Rusticana, and the novel I Malavoglia (The House by the Medlar Tree).

Born in Catania, Verga was of wealthy family. He began writing in his teens, producing the largely unpublished historical novel Amore e Patria (Love and Country). Although nominally studying law at the University of Catania, he later used money his father had given him to publish his I Carbonari della Montagna (The Carbonari of the Mountain) in 1861 and 1862. This was followed by Sulle lagune (On the Lagoons) in 1863.

In 1872, after spending some time in Florence, Verga moved to Milan. There he developed his new approach, characterized by the use of dialogue to develop character, which resulted in his most significant works. In 1880 he published his story collection Vita dei campi (Life in the Fields), including “Fantasticheria” (“Daydreaming”), “La Lupa” (“The She-wolf”), and “Pentolaccia” (“The Plaything”), most of which were about rural Sicily. The collection of works also included “Cavalleria Rusticana” (“Rustic Chivalry”), which he adapted for the theatre and later formed the basis for several opera librettos including Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Gastaldon’s Mala Pasqua!. Verga’s short story, “Malaria”, was one of the first literary depictions of the disease malaria. He then embarked on a projected series of five novels, but only completed two, I Malavoglia and Mastro-don Gesualdo (1889).

In 1894 Verga moved back to Catania, to the house in which he had lived as a child and in 1920 he was appointed Senator of the Kingdom (Senatore del Regno) for life (ad vitam). He died of a cerebral thrombosis in 1922.

Read More:
1. Wikipedia
2. Encyclopedia Britannica

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