De Sanctis, Francesco (fränchāsˈkō dā sängkˈtēs) [key], 1817–83, Italian historian and literary critic. He was one of the founders of modern Italian literary criticism. He suffered imprisonment for his political views and was exiled to Malta. He was one of the first in the world to hold a position as professor of comparative literature with his appointment at Naples (1871–77). He supported Cavour, who appointed him minister of education. Important works are his Saggi critici [critical essays] (1866) and his History of Italian Literature (1871, tr. 1931), a history of Italian national feeling as traced through literature. He also wrote studies of Petrarch (2d ed. 1883) and Leopardi (1885).
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