The outbreak of World War I found him in France, where he had lived since 1910. He returned to Italy, where his extreme nationalist oratory had much to do with persuading Italy to join the Allies, and he 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. D'Annunzio, one of the few writers to be courted by Mussolini, was an early exponent of fascism, and his troops in the Fiume raid introduced the black shirt that became the uniform of the fascists.
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 biographies by G. Griffin (1935, repr. 1970), C. Klopp (1988), J. Woodhouse (2001), and L. Hughes-Hallett (2013); studies by A. Rhodes (1960), G. Gullace (1966), R. Forcella (4 vol., 1926–37, repr. 1973), and M. Ledeen (1977) and (2001).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Italian Literature: Biographies