Index

Pensieri di varia filosofia e di bella letteratura

Witticism. 1 
General tendencies in literature. 1 
Tendencies in Italian literature compared through its various centuries. 1-2 
Not the beautiful absolutely, but the true, i.e. any kind of imitation of nature, is the proper object of the fine arts. 2-3  3 
Not the useful but pleasure is the end of poetry and the fine arts. 3 
General tendencies in literature, with specific application to or examples from Italian literature. 3-4 
On the literary vices of scholars from the good classical centuries before they became common vices in the corrupt centuries. 5 
Difficulty of avoiding affectation and the vices of writing nowadays, compared to that of the ancients and the classics. 5 
Witticism. 6 
Theoretical system of the fine arts. 6-7 
Difficulty of performing artificially and willfully the natural and ordinary functions of life; applied to the excessive art found presently in literature. 8 
Difficulty of achieving true imitation in general. 8 
Whether the prototype of the beautiful is to be found in nature. 8-9 
Exaggerations in sentences or expressions familiar and proper to the French language, style or its writers; given as a proof of the affectation dominant in that nation. 9 
Too much consideration of danger and the effort of avoiding it brings it upon, or else nothing is done; how this applies to modern literature in comparison with the ancient. 9-10 
Comic force and character of Plautus. 10-11 
Ovid's art of imagery. 12 
In French pronunciation the imitative sound of many written words has been lost. 12 
How should we interpret in translations certain words that are either deliberately coined by the author or distorted from their original meaning. 12 
Poetic sublimity of the Bible compared to that of the profane classical poets. 13 
The effectiveness of expressions is often nothing more than their novelty. 13 
On the style, poetry, and merits of Monti's writing. 13-14 
Parallel between reason and nature. 14-15 
On Lodovico di Breme's articles on romanticism. 15-20 
The most difficult art is hiding art and achieving naturalness; applied to the discourse on romanticism. 20-21 
You do not imitate nature unless you imitate it with naturalness; observation applied to romanticism. 21 
Parallel of the descriptive mode used by Ovid and by modern descriptive poets with the one used by Dante. 21 
Poetic image. 21 
Useful and pleasurable. 21 
On Longinus' opinion on the defect of greatness in the spirit and writing of his time. Its cause is established to be the progress of reason and knowledge. This progress and the exile of the illusions produce barbarity. On the feelings and behavior of Cicero, and the events in Rome following Ceasar's death. 21-23 
Reason's divisive effect on society. 23 
The love of wonder goes back to the same source as the hatred of boredom. 23 
Poetic image. 23 
The most ancient and obscure centuries are considered the most heroic with reason and not by whim. 23 
Eloquence in lyric recognized in Petrarch, who is favored in this respect over Horace and all others. The copiousness, simplicity, familiarity, and generally the nature of Petrarch's style. 23 
Critique of Testi's poetry. 23-24 
Affectionate style in Petrarch. 24 
Critique of Filicaia's poetry. 24 
Critique of Chiabrera's poetry. 24-25 
Images and accidental effects which sometimes are born from the expressions of poets and other writers, without being sought by them, like that of the sponge Protogenes threw on his Ialysos. 25-26 
The prophetic in Filicaia's style. 26-27 
Chiabrera's best songs are nothing more than beautiful sketches. 26 
Critique of Guidi's poetry. 27-28 
Zappi is the only one comparable to Anacreon in Italy and abroad. 28 
Critique of Manfredi's poetry. 28 
Comparative critique of Italian poets. 28 
Every being is content with itself, except for man. 29 
Popular songs in Recanati between 1818-20. 29 
On Paciaudi's opinion that prose is the mother of verse. 29 
The effect of love on a shy girl. 29 
About a peasant who was crying watching his ox being slaughtered. 29 
The most eloquent Italian pieces are certain Petrarchan canzoni and various writings by Tasso. The eloquence of speaking about oneself. 29-30 
The flexibility of the French language serves to express things, not to sculpt them, as the effectiveness of the Italian language does. 30 
Whether the name of the letters should be "be" "ce", etc. or "bi, ci", as pronounced in Tuscany. 30 
A simile to appropriately express the effect of Anacreon's poetry. 30-31 
The present taste for philosophy is not a chance, nor a passing thing, as it was in other times. 31 
Beautiful prose needs to have something poetic. Technicalities of modern prose. 31 
Laziness of the tortoise in proportion to the length of its life. 64  32 
"Testa" for head, as it should be said. 32 
The means of imitation proper to any art should not be naturally discordant among themselves, nor poorly combined; otherwise art is barbarous in itself. Opera in music. Tragedy in verse. 32 
Italianisms of Celso. 32-34 
Critique of the book de Arte dicendi attributed to Celso. 34-36 
Poetic image. Remembrances of my childhood. 36 
Monti: a poet by style, imaginative, unhappy in feeling, translator and copyist in almost all of his original poems. His "Musogonia". 36-37 
Enmity of nature and reason brought to concord by Religion. 37 
A case in which it is barbarous to follow reason and unreasonable to follow nature; religion in that case is on the side of nature. 37 
Reimbursing a great gift or benefit with a small one by ignorance or awkwardness; how detestable this is to the benefactor and how much better it would have been to not remunerate in any way. 38 
Singular ancient and modern men. How little it takes today to consider someone extraordinary. 38-39 
A saying by Bacon that all faculties reduced to art become sterile; its application to poetry. Originality of the ancients; inevitable servility of modern poets. 39-40  41 
Immortality of man inferred from his inevitable unhappiness in present life, and from suicide. 40 
A quip or play on words. 41 
Difference between attic and ancient wit and the French and the modern; what it consists of. 41-42 
On vernacular Latin. Very ancient Latin words unused by the golden writers and used by those of the low period and by the vulgar moderns. 42 
A quip. 43 
The more we calculate time the less it seems we have; the more we neglect it, the more it seems that we have left. 43 
The beginning of a letter of thanks to a person who had praised me in print. 43 
Attic grace. The grace of a language is something different from its other qualities. It can only be derived from a language actually used in speaking. 43 
Greek term used in common Italian. 43 
Why those who are afraid tend to sing. The false courage of many consists in dissimulating or diminishing suffering in their imagination. The eὐφημία of the Greeks, the Latins and the Italians. 43-44 
The Greeks did not study Latin. 44 
Italian words modified by Latin pronunciation have lost their imitative sound. 44 
Our immortality deduced from our present unhappiness. 44 
Parallel between the Greeks at the Thermopylae and our sufferings, especially recently. Spartan mothers similar to the Christian. The heroism of patriotism similar to the religious one. Religion resurrects extinguished heroism. 44-45 
The bad treatment by certain priests of their novices. The envy I felt towards those who seemed to have easily attained what I did after many efforts. 45 
Habit seems nature, and so the bad taste in literary matters and the poor manner of writing seem natural because of habituation. Way of convincing oneself of the contrary. Difficulty nowadays of following nature, which is no longer our habit; the ease of following habit in every thing. 46 
Grace is not proper to the French language, but the French boast about it on every line. 46-47 
A romantic image. 47 
Opposition is often reason for wanting and doing more than you would have done if there had been no opposition. A concrete example. 47 
It is reasonable to allow Italians to derive words and moods from Latin, while denying them to do that from other sister languages. Barbarity of Greek words in modern languages. The French language considered in this context. Republican words. 47-48 
The fable of the peacock ashamed of its feet is contrary to nature. The variety of the beautiful. There is no absolute ugliness, nor a species of animals that seems ugly to itself, or disgusting and the like. 49 
An excuse for the above-mentioned fable. 49 
On deriving new words from the already known native ones. On deriving them from Greek. 50 
Inaffectation and similar qualities can also become affected. 50 
A poetic image. Remembrances from my childhood. 50-51 
The illusions are the most real pleasure. 51 
The illusions, being natural, are in some way real things. 51 
Variety is such enemy of boredom, while uniformity its friend. 51 
Definition of proper man. 51 
Future life deduced from the unhappiness of the present. 51 
The alphabet generally considered is much richer in elementary sounds than it is believed. 51-52 
Personification of echo; example of the amiability of Greek mythology. 52 
Which objectives and intentions should the poet or writer hide in order to escape affectation; definition of the latter. 52-53 
The artifice of many modern writers in hiding the true reasons for many moral effects noted by them. Reducing things to their principles. Simplicity and a small number of elementary things both in the moral and in the physical worlds. Proposal for a system where all moral effects are referred to their original causes. 53 
The imitation of the Greeks hurt the originality of Latin literature and poetry no less than the Italian was hurt by the imitation of the Latins and the Greeks. The great field of originality that the Romans had. Qualities added or substituted in the Greek style by the Latins. 54 
Elementary sounds of speech are missing in our and in other alphabets. On the Galic "u". A hypothesis on how it became adopted by the French. 54-55 
Few care to gain love at the price of hatred for another. To what extent and why is hatred more effective than love. 55 
Poetic or extravagant images. 55-56 
Witticism. 55 
Perhaps man would be happy living naturally. Proofs. But today man is incapable of this happiness. Man is not deprived of instinct by nature but loses it because of art. The difference between his life and that of the other animals is the result of circumstances, not of nature. 56 
The ancient poets leave a lot to the reader, how and why. They describe and narrate naturally. 57 
Our true idylls are the so-called rustic poems. 57 
Children's imagination compared to the poetry of the ancients. 57 
Self-love directed towards oneself is the origin of vices, when directed towards others - of virtues. 57 
We don't read of any prince to have committed suicide because of desperation with life, whereas it would befit princes to do so more than others. 57-58 
A quip. 58 
Teachers, even of math, should have a poetic mind. 58 
Everything has been perfected since Homer except for poetry. 58 
Attic or ancient wit and French or modern. 58 
On Sannazzaro's saying that man is as miserable as he considers himself to be. 58-59 
The effects of love. This more than any other passion abstracts the soul from any other object. 59 
Disgust felt at the nonsense or baseness of others when being truly in love. 59 
Love increases the feeling of life and is the vivifying principle of nature, as opposed to hatred. 59 
Dante and Petrarch are much less superfluous and a lot more spontaneous with rhymes than all of the authors from the 16th century. 59-60 
Two similes uncommon among poets. 60 
Sweet illusions that are born from the knowledge and solemnity of anniversaries. 60 
Eloquence in talking about onself. On the "Apologia" by Lorenzino de' Medici. 60-61 
Daring in poetry and in eloquence often consists in the vagueness of an expression or an image. 61 
Habit of the Latins to take words and phrases from Greek, and of the Italians from French. 62 
On the simplicity of Xenophon's writing. 62 
In the battle of Isso, Dario placed the mercenaries in the front, Alexander in the back. Both were Greeks. Reflections about this incident. 62-63 
On the ridiculous consisting of things and on that consisting of words. 63 
The true and perhaps the only hopeful utility of comedy should be to instruct the young, the inexperienced and the unreflective on the nature of social life and of men. 63 
The sweetness of imagining everything like the ancients did. 63-64 
A poetic simile. 63 
On an effect that the reading of novels produced in me. 64 
How the Greeks and the Romans used to call a proper man, considered to be telling of the opinions, state and character of those nations. 64-65 
Pain from misfortunes or the loss of goods is lightened by the thought of necessity. The example of a child. 65 
Hatred of life conjoined at the same time with the fear of losing it and with the care to conserve it. My own example. That becoming aware of the unhappiness of being is something against nature. 66 
Observation from which could be gathered that fear is more fecund with illusions than hope is. 66 
Quips. 66-67 
Pignotti's fables decline from the goal and nature of Aesop's, and are rather little moral satires, as are many of Lucian's dialogues and inventions. 67 
Female birds are less pretty than the male. Also among humans the male sex is actually more beautiful than the fair sex. 67 
Love of glory, of freedom, and other such sentiments are usually confused with the love of fatherland. 67-68 
An observation showing that speaking is never divorced from some bodily movement made solely because of speaking. 68 
Exquisite judgment of the Greeks shown by the old age attributed to Charon. 68 
Being born is a mortal and great danger for man but not for the other animals. A sign of our corruption. 68-69 
On the verse invenies alium si te hic fastidit Alexis. 69 
Infinite vainness of truth. 69 
Hatred is sweeter than indifference. The latter is extremely rare in the natural state, but most common and almost constant in the civil. 69 
On the names of the letters of the alphabet. 69 
Poetic thought in verse. 69 
Joy tends to expand, sadness to restrain and contract, both morally and physically. 69-70 
Difference between Petrarch's simplicity and that of the Greeks. The familiarity of Petrarch's style. 70 
Self-contempt is a great stimulus to suicide. The love of life is nothing but the love of one's own good. 70-71 
Quip. 71 
I don't like to speak to the people I esteem in the presence of others, and why. 71 
Perhaps the number of individuals in the animal species is, naturally and generally speaking, in inverse proportion to their greatness. 71-72 
Crime is sometimes heroism; sometimes it promises well of the person committing it. Also, the sacrifice of virtue by someone who values it is a kind of heroism and greatness of spirit. 72 
The pain that is born of boredom is more tolerable than boredom itself. 72 
Revenge is so appreciated that often we want to be insulted in order to take revenge. The same can be said of hatred, even without revenge. 72 
Everything is nothingness, even the desperation that is born from knowing and feeling this truth, even pain. 72 
A kind of envy I have felt. 73 
Why an unexpected boon is dearer than one hoped for. 73 
A thought by Madame de Staël who condemns the abuse by the romantics of the terrible and of the extraordinary, which are not in harmony with the habits and nature of almost any reader. 73-74 
An aspect of nature in autumn. 74 
Variety and contrast of the qualities of each individual of the Southern nations, and the reason for this variety. 74-75 
Pleasure of the vague is of such nature that it cannot be satisfied, yet it is much greater than any defined pleasure: anyhow these are far from being able to satisfy and fulfill. 75[e di nuovo ivi.] [and there again.]  
The happiness available to man consists in a tranquil life animated by a certain and quiet hope for future well-being and engaged in a serene manner. 76 
Civilization introduced labors that are harmful and discontinued those useful to the health of the body and of the human faculties. 76 
Ancient pain. Its great difference from the modern. Whether poets and artists should or can fittingly treat ancient subject matters where there is emphasis on the passions. Sensitivity was not proper to the ancients; it is a natural effect of our modern circumstances, but it is not innate in us: it is a remedy prepared by compassionate nature for our present, although not natural, unhappiness. How unreasonable it is to accuse ancient poets and writers of lacking feeling and to devalue the ancients because they lacked it. They did not, however, lack other noble and sweet passions, nor other great delights of the spirit which we lack. The consolation of the ancients was not in misfortune itself, as it is in some way for us. 76-79 
Music imitates feeling in person; compared to poetry and to architecture. A passage by Staël on the subject. 79-80 
Poetic thoughts in verse. 80 
Christianity has made men worse when, without extinguishing the passions, it placed them in too much opposition with the principles. The nature of wickedness in the middle ages differs from the ancient and from that in recent times. This difference is partially attributed to Christianity. 80-81 
On an artifice that gives effectiveness to style; exemplified by a passage in the Roman Nights. 82 
Danger reconciles us with life. My own example. The jump of Leucas. 82 
The trivialities and weaknesses of genius. Book XIV of Corinne. 83 
Ignorant and cold men usually do not feel envy towards genius ones, because they do not esteem them nor believe them superior to themselves, bur rather inferior. They will envy them only when they see them esteemed, which cannot happen in small and ignorant places. The kind of passions that men of genius awaken in others in such places. Refer to the cited book in Corinne. 83-84 
Influence and relations of the physical and the metaphysical systems and doctrines. The example of the Copernican system. 84 
Bored and discouraged with life I did not have the force to cry and to suffer, except when I was more cheerful than usual. 84 
Iambic Latin satyrical verse on the name of Pius taken from some princes. 85 
Feelings I've experienced while considering the universal nothingness. 85 
Hope is no longer capable of making us happy after we have experienced and lost happiness. 85 
Poetic simile. 85 
Superficial or weak sensations of enthusiasm are willingly communicated with the hope to increase them; communicating profound ones is avoided, nor is it possible. 85-86 
A passage in Corinne condemns the ignoble poetizing of the romantics and the excessive truthfulness and minuteness of their imitation. 86-87 
Progress of the effects of misfortune in the individual. The self-hatred to which they lead. Evil joy and smiling about one's own evils and about death itself; final result of desperation. 87 
Pain and desperation in misfortune among the ancients, children, the ignorant. 88 
Painful or terrible or unpleasant thoughts and sensations: why they are often sought and accepted voluntarily. A passage from Corinne. 88-90 
The idea and horror that the ancients had of destiny; where it comes from. It explains the same effect in the magnanimous and imaginative men of modernity. 90-92 
The epigrammatic of French spirit and conversation is necessarily communicated to all their writings, whose character it forms. French style is not capable of any other naturalness than that of their conversation, which is not among the most natural. The praised naturalness and grace of La Fontaine. French language is exalted as very simple, but it is incapable of translating Xenophon and some of the most simple and plain classical authors. Translations by Amyot. Perhaps more easiy to understand for an Italian than for an uneducated Frenchman. 92-94 
Knowledge of several languages helps the facility, clarity and precision of thinking, of conceiving, of fixating and determining one's ideas to oneself. 94-95 
Expressive sound of some words is sometimes achieved by chance. 95 
Our word "troia" hypothesized to be an ancient vernacular Latin word. 95-96 
Joy, feelings and enthusiasm are the proper effects of passing vigor. The ancients' bodily strength must have given rise to many spiritual pleasures and feelings of enthusiasm, especially in the educated. 96-97 
Unpleasantness of not being able to participate in conversations that interest us or are about things that we know as much or better than those speaking in our presence. 97 
It is false that the moment when others rejoice is not suited for obtaining anything except for favors that can be done instantly or granted. It is rather most inopportune for everything else, and the reason why. Neither the times of joy nor of pain predispose us to compassion or to interest in someone else, but rather the times of indifference, and even more so those of enthusiasm without a definite objective or of joy without a specific cause. 97-99 
Making someone interested in our misfortune, who is in a similar state, is not just not easy, but impossible. Perhaps it is easier to make interested someone who has experienced it in the past. 99 
The only real thing are the illusions, and the only substance are the ghosts. 99 
Property of ancient poets to leave a lot to the reader, which is, among other things, reason for the great beauty of their poetry, descriptions, images and ideas, i.e. the beauty of the indefinite and the vague. The opposite effect is created by the modern and romantic exactitude in making descriptions. 100