D'Annunzio, Gabriele (gäbrēĕˈlā dän-nōnˈtsyō) [key] 1863–1938, Italian poet, novelist, dramatist and soldier, b. Pescara. He went to Rome in 1881 and there began his literary career. The richly sensuous imagery of even his early poetry— Le primavere della mala pianta [the springtime of the evil plant] (1880) and Canto nuovo [new song] (1882)—displayed his unrivaled literary craftsmanship. His novels— Il piacere (1889, tr. The Child of Pleasure, 1898), L'innocente (1892, tr. The Intruder, 1898, and The Victim, 1914), Giovanni Episcopo (1892, tr. Episcopo & Company, 1896), and Il trionfo della morte (1894, tr. The Triumph of Death, 1896)—show the same creative handling of the Italian language, but the works are shallow and theatrical. The outbreak of World War I found him in France, where he had lived since 1910. He returned to Italy, where his oratory had much to do with persuading Italy to join the Allies, and fought with spectacular daring in the air force. In Sept., 1919, he led an expedition (known as the march on Ronchi) against Fiume, where he established a rule opposed by both the Italian government and the rest of Europe, which lasted until Jan., 1921. His troops in the Fiume raid introduced the black shirt that was to be the uniform of the fascists. D'Annunzio, one of the few writers to be courted by Mussolini, was an early exponent of Fascism. His book Notturrno (1921) is a moving analysis of sensations and memories during weeks of blindness from which he partially recovered. He added little in later life to the long list of his works. His plays include Il sogno d'un mattino di primavera (1897, tr. The Dream of a Spring Morning, 1902), Il sogno d'un tramonto d'autunno (1898, tr. The Dream of an Autumn Sunset, 1904), La città morta (1898, tr. The Dead City, 1902), and Francesca (1902, tr. Francesca da Rimini, 1902). Most of these were written during the time of his love affair with Eleonora Duse, which he described with cruel candor in the novel Il fuoco (1900; tr. The Flame of Life, 1900). Mussolini appointed him (1937) president of the Royal Italian Academy, but he died before taking office.
See biography by G. Griffin (1935, repr. 1970) and C. Klopp (1988); studies by A. Rhodes (1960), G. Gullace (1966), and R. Forcella (4 vol., 1926–37, repr. 1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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