Giovanni Papini

Giovanni Papini

Infobox Writer
name = Giovanni Papini

imagesize =
caption =
pseudonym =
birthdate = birth date|1881|1|9|mf=y
birthplace = Florence
deathdate = death date and age|1956|7|8|1881|1|9|mf=y
deathplace = Florence
occupation = essayist, journalist, literary critic, poet, novelist
nationality = Italian
period = 1903–1956
genre = prose poetry, fantasy, autobiography, travel literature, satire
subject = political philosophy, history of religion
movement = Futurism
influences = Enrico Corradini
influenced = Mircea Eliade, Mina Loy

website =

Giovanni Papini (January 9, 1881 - July 8, 1956) was an Italian journalist, essayist, literary critic, poet, and novelist.

Early life

Born in Florence as the son of a modest furniture retailer (and former member of Giuseppe Garibaldi's Redshirts) from Borgo degli Albizi, Papini was baptized secretly to avoid the aggressive atheism of his father, and he lived a rustic, lonesome, and precociously introspective childhood. From that time onwards he felt a strong aversion to all beliefs, to all churches, as well as to any form of servitude (which he saw as connected to religion); he also became enchanted with the impossible idea of writing an encyclopedia wherein all cultures would be summarized.

Trained as a schoolteacher, he taught for a few years after 1899, then became a librarian. The literary life attracted Papini, who founded the magazine "Il Leonardo", together with Giuseppe Prezzolini, in 1903, then joined Enrico Corradini's group as co-editor of "Il Regno". He started publishing short-stories and essays: in 1903, "Il tragico quotidiano" ("The Tragic Everyday"), in 1907 "Il pilota cieco" ("The Blind Pilot") and "Il crepuscolo dei filosofi" ("The Twilight of the Philosophers"). The latter constituted a polemic with established and diverse intellectual figures, such as Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche - Papini proclaimed to the death of philosophers and the demolition of thinking itself. He briefly flirted with Futurism and other violent and liberating forms of Modernism (Papini is the character in several poems of the period written by Mina Loy).

Before and during World War I

After leaving "Il Leonardo" in 1907, Giovanni Papini founded "Anima" together with Giovanni Amendola. His "Parole e sangue" ("Words and Blood") essay of the period showed his unequivocal atheism, summoned in his advice::"Humans: become atheists each and all!... God will nevertheless welcome you with all [H] is heart!

Furthermore, Papini sought to create scandal by speculating that Jesus and John the Apostle had a homosexual relationship.

He broke off with Prezzolini, co-editor of "Anima", and the paper ceased to appear. Papini founded "Lacerba", published between 1913 and 1915 (right before Italy's entry into World War I). In 1912, he published his best-known work, the autobiography "Un uomo finito" (tr.: "The Failure").

His 1915 collection of prose poetry "Cento pagine di poesia", followed by "Buffonate" and "Maschilità", and the 1916 "Stroncature" - Papini faced Giovanni Boccaccio, William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but also contemporaries such as Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile, and less prominent disciples of Gabriele D'Annunzio. He published verse in 1917, grouped under the title "Opera prima". In 1921, Papini announced his newly-found Roman Catholicism, publishing the international bestseller essay "Storia di Cristo" ("Life of Christ").

Fascism and later years

After further verse works, he published the satire "Gog" (1931) and the essay "Dante vivo" (tr. "If Dante Were Alive"; 1933).

He moved towards Fascism, and his beliefs earned him a teaching position at the University of Bologna in 1935 (although his studies only qualified him for primary school teaching); the Fascist authorities confirmed Papini's "impeccable reputation" through the appointment. In 1937, Papini published the first and only volume of his "History of Italian Literature", which he dedicated to Benito Mussolini: "to Il Duce, friend of poetry and of the poets", being awarded top positions in academia, especially in the study of Italian Renaissance. An Antisemite, he believed in an international plot of Jews, applauding the racial discrimination laws enforced by Mussolini in 1938.Fact|date=February 2007 When the Fascist regime crumbled (1943), Papini entered the Franciscan convent in Verna.

Largely discredited at the end of World War II, he was defended by the Catholic political right. His work concentrated on different subjects, including a biography of Michelangelo, while he continued to publish dark and tragic essays. He collaborated with "Corriere della Sera", contributing articles that were published as a volume after his death.


* Biography partially taken from the introduction to "Gog" by Ettore Allodoli

External links

* [ Article on Papini at "Books and Writers"]
* [ Article on Papini at "Britannica Online"]
* [ A website about Giovanni Papini in Italian]
* [ A list of Papini's books translated in English]
* [ "Un uomo finito": website for the theater play about Giovanni Papini and John Henry Newman (in italian)]

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