Giovanni Verga, 1840-1922

Portrait

Biographical note

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

Verga was born in Catania, Sicily, in 1840, and died in the same city, at the age of eighty-two, in January, 1922. As a young man he left Sicily to work at literature and mingle with society in Florence and Milan, and these two cities, especially the latter, claim a large share of his mature years. He came back, however, to his beloved Sicily, to Catania, the seaport under Etna, to be once more Sicilian of the Sicilians and spend his long declining years in his own place.

The first period of his literary activity was taken up with “Society” and elegant love. In this phase he wrote the novels Eros, Eva, Tigre Reale, Il Marito di Elena, real Italian novels of love, intrigue and “elegance”: a little tiresome, but with their own depth. His fame, however, rests on his Sicilian works, the two novels: I Malavoglia and Mastro–Don Gesualdo, and the various volumes of short sketches, Vita dei Campi (Cavalleria Rusticana), Novelle Rusticane, and Vagabondaggio, and then the earlier work Storia di Una Capinera, a slight volume of letters between two school-girls, somewhat sentimental and once very popular.

The libretto of Cavalleria Rusticana, the well-known opera, was drawn from the first of the sketches in the volume Vita dei Campi.

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