Gabriele DAnnunzio: Defiant Archangel

Paperback | February 15, 2001

byJohn Woodhouse

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Gabriele D'Annunzio, 'Gabriel of the Annunciation', shocked and dazzled early twentieth-century Europe with his sexual exploits, military feats, and political escapades. In a blaze of self-publicity those activities provided material for his fiery journalism and the stunning literary creationswhich have influenced each succeeding generation of Italian writers. French translations of his scandalous novels first exposed Europe to his genius, but his roots lay deep in his native soil. A pivotal presence in the evolution of Italian literature, politics, society, and taste, he rarely allowedhis name to fall from the public gaze during forty critical years, and more than any other Italian since the unification of his country, he casts a shadow forwards to the present day.D'Annunzio's sexual promiscuity was legendary, yet he was a somewhat unconventional Casanova: something under five foot six, prematurely balding, blinded in one eye during the war, and blessed with what his secretary-factotum called unfortunate teeth, he was the caricaturist's dream. At the age ofsixteen he pawned his grandfather's watch for the money to visit a brothel. And though he was married for 55 years to Maris, Duchess of Gallese, his adult years witnessed a trail of discarded lovers, who were severally driven to drugs, suicide attempts, alcoholism, and madness. His countlessliaisons involved a number of women cast as muses in his writings, including artistes such as Eleonora Duse, Ida Rubinstein, and Isadora Duncan. From his earliest years D'Annunzio set out to create a unique personality for himself, aided by friends who invented myths about his life and early writings. In adolescence he circulated rumours of his own death to the Italian newspapers, helping to stir up interest in the imminent publication ofhis latest work. That slim volume, mentioned in most of the ensuing obituaries, sold well and found sympathetic reviewers. As time passed, other stories accumulated and attached themselves to his public persona, until truth and fiction became indistinguishable. Had he been born during a storm at seaon the deck of the sailing-ship Irene? Was he involved in the celebrated theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911? Had he experimented with cannibalism during a journey through Libya? Was he, in the end, assassinated by a Nazi spy for his opposition in 1937 to the alliance between Mussolini and Hitler? Thepresent biography is the first fully-documented appraisal of this extraordinary man's career, making use of previously unpublished manuscripts and new source material, and attempting to maintain a degree of objectivity never previously seen in Dannunzian scholarship.

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Gabriele D'Annunzio, 'Gabriel of the Annunciation', shocked and dazzled early twentieth-century Europe with his sexual exploits, military feats, and political escapades. In a blaze of self-publicity those activities provided material for his fiery journalism and the stunning literary creationswhich have influenced each succeeding gener...

John Woodhouse is at Magdalen College, Oxford.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:424 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.94 inPublished:February 15, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198187637

ISBN - 13:9780198187639

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations1. Early Life and Experience2. The Conquest of Rome3. Life into Art4. Naples and Beyond5. The Poet as Playwright: On Stage with Eleonora Duse6. The Poet as Politician7. The Tuscan Idyll8. From Dalliance to Exile9. D'Annunzio in France10. Return from Exile: Intervention and War11. The Invasion of Fiume12. The Vittoriale: Theatre of MemoryBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`This sober biography of an improbable figure is scholarly, respectful and balanced, rescuing him from vilification as a proto-fascist and resisting any temptation to camp him up'Culture, The Sunday Times