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Edmondo De Amicis

Edmondo De Amicis Edmondo De Amicis[2†]

Edmondo De Amicis (October 21, 1846 – March 11, 1908) was an Italian novelist, journalist, poet, and short-story writer, best known for his children’s novel “Cuore” (Heart)[1†][2†]. Born in Oneglia, Kingdom of Sardinia, De Amicis was educated at the military academy at Modena and commissioned in the artillery[1†]. His writings spanned various genres, including poems, travelogues, and essays[1†].

Early Years and Education

Edmondo De Amicis was born on October 21, 1846, in Oneglia, a small town on the sea coast southeast of Genoa, in the Kingdom of Sardinia[1†][2†]. He was the son of a wealthy merchant[1†][3†]. His early education took place in Cuneo and Turin[1†][4†][5†]. These formative years in the culturally rich environment of Turin might have played a significant role in shaping his literary sensibilities.

At the age of 16, De Amicis entered the Military Academy of Modena[1†][5†]. His time at the academy was not just about military training; it also provided him with a unique perspective on life and society, which later became evident in his writings[1†][2†]. In 1865, he graduated from the academy and was appointed Second Lieutenant of the Third Regiment of the Line[1†][4†].

His early experiences, both in his hometown and at the military academy, laid the foundation for his future career as a writer. His exposure to diverse environments and experiences enriched his understanding of human nature and society, which is reflected in his works[1†][2†].

Career Development and Achievements

After graduating from the Military Academy of Modena, De Amicis was commissioned in the artillery[1†]. He fought in the Battle of Custoza during the Third Independence War, a confrontation between the forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the Austrian Empire[1†][2†]. The experience left him disillusioned with military life, leading to his decision to leave the army[1†][2†].

De Amicis began his writing career by contributing sketches of military life to the army journal L’Italia Militare, eventually becoming its editor in 1867[1†][2†]. His stories were collected in “La vita militare” (“Military Life”), published in 1868[1†][2†]. This work, along with “Novelle” (“Short Stories”), published in 1872, is considered by some critics to be his best work[1†].

In 1870, De Amicis joined the staff of the journal La Nazione in Rome[1†][2†]. His correspondence during this time served as the basis for his travel writings, which include “Spagna” (1873), “Olanda” (1874), “Ricordi di Londra” (1874), “Marocco” (1876), “Constantinople” (1878), and “Ricordi di Parigi” (1879)[1†][2†]. His description of Constantinople is considered by many to be his masterpiece and the best description of the city in the 19th century[1†][2†].

However, De Amicis is best known for his children’s novel “Cuore” (“Heart”), first published in 1886[1†][2†]. The book, written in the form of a schoolboy’s diary, was translated into more than 25 languages[1†][2†]. Despite criticism from some Roman Catholic politicians for failing to depict the nature of the Holy See’s opposition to the annexation of Rome, the book’s praise for the creation of the united Italian state contributed to its immense success[1†][2†].

Throughout his career, De Amicis demonstrated a unique ability to capture the socio-cultural context of his time, making significant contributions to Italian literature[1†][2†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Edmondo De Amicis was a prolific writer, with his works spanning various genres including fiction, travelogues, and poetry[4†]. Here are some of his main works:

These works not only showcase De Amicis’ literary prowess but also provide a glimpse into his experiences and perspectives. His travelogues, in particular, made him known outside of Italy and were translated into several languages[4†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Edmondo De Amicis’ work has been widely recognized for its clarity, vivid description, and an indefinable charm that endeared him to his readers[4†]. His writing style, which was both clear and engaging, diffused a magnetic quality over whatever he wrote[4†].

His best-known book, “Cuore” (Heart), has been considered for decades an educative textbook largely read and studied in the Italian public schools[4†][2†]. Some literary critics noted it substituted the traditional Roman Catholic doctrine with a lay civil religion where heroes took the place of Christian martyrs, the Statuto Albertino displaced the Gospels, the Church, its believers and the Ten Commandments were respectively deleted in favour of the State, the figure of the citizen and the protection of the Italian codes of laws[4†][2†]. This perspective shows how De Amicis’ work was not only influential but also controversial.

His travel writings, such as “Spagna”, “Olanda”, “Ricordi di Londra”, “Marocco”, and “Constantinople”, were considered by many as his masterpiece and the best description of the city in the 19th century[4†][2†]. These works made him known outside of Italy and were translated into several languages[4†][7†].

In conclusion, De Amicis’ work has left a significant impact on Italian literature and beyond. His ability to combine personal experiences with broader social and cultural themes has made his work timeless and influential[4†].

Personal Life

Edmondo De Amicis was born in Oneglia, which is now part of the city of Imperia[2†]. He had his first contact with literature in Cuneo[2†][8†]. He studied at a Turin high school[2†][8†] and later attended the Military Academy at Modena[2†][4†]. He was appointed Second Lieutenant of the Third Regiment of the Line in 1865[2†][4†].

De Amicis participated in the battle of Custoza during the Third Independence War[2†]. The spectacle of this battle left him disappointed and contributed to his later decision to leave military life[2†]. He then joined the staff of the journal La Nazione in Rome in 1870[2†].

De Amicis was initiated to the Scottish Rite Freemasonry, possibly in the regular Masonic Lodge Concordia in Montevideo, Uruguay[2†]. He held the public greeting speech in honor of the mason Giovanni Bovio during the first representation of his theatral drama titled San Paolo[2†].

Unfortunately, there isn’t much publicly available information about his personal relationships or family life. However, his life was undoubtedly rich and full, with his experiences deeply influencing his writing and leaving a lasting impact on Italian literature.

Conclusion and Legacy

Edmondo De Amicis left a significant legacy in Italian literature. His best-known work, “Cuore”, has been translated into more than 25 languages and is considered a staple in Italian public schools[2†]. The book’s success was immense, and it was printed in 40 Italian editions within a few months of its release[2†].

De Amicis’ work is characterized by a complex mix of romanticism and realism with a highly ethical purpose, always guiding the reader towards good[2†][5†]. His writings substituted the traditional Roman Catholic doctrine with a lay civil religion where heroes took the place of Christian martyrs[2†].

Despite historians of Italian literature considering him a “minor author," De Amicis is one of the best-known Italian authors abroad[2†]. His publication of “Constantinople” is considered by many to be his masterpiece and the best description of the city in the 19th century[2†].

In conclusion, Edmondo De Amicis’ work has had a profound impact on Italian literature and continues to be celebrated and studied today. His legacy is a testament to his skill as a writer and his dedication to guiding readers towards ethical and moral good.

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Edmondo De Amicis: Italian author [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Edmondo De Amicis [website] - link
  3. 8SA.NET - Edmondo De Amicis Biography, Life Story and Works, Who was Edmondo De Amicis [website] - link
  4. JSTOR - Edmondo de Amicis (1846-1908) [website] - link
  5. LibraryThing - Author - Edmondo Mario Alberto De Amicis [website] - link
  6. Wikisource (English) - Edmondo de Amicis [website] - link
  7. Istanbul University Press - “The fairy of a thousand lovers”: Notes on Constantinople by Edmondo De Amicis [website] - link
  8. AcademiaLab - Edmondo De Amicis [website] - link
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