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Thoughts (Hesperus Classics) [Paperback]

Giacomo Leopardi , Edoardo Albinati , J.G. Nichols
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

29 Aug 2002 Hesperus Classics
Penned by the greatest Italian poet and thinker of the nineteenth century, these precious musings contain immense philosophical and psychological insight. Ranging from mankind to nature, and from social order to the individual soul, they reveal a mind of brilliance, and a man struggling to reconcile all that he sees around him. Sharply observed and expertly constructed, Leopardi's 'Thoughts' remain remarkable in their timeless appeal.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Hesperus Press Ltd; New edition edition (29 Aug 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843910128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843910121
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,119,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'The 4,500 pages of Leopardi s notebooks end, in December 1832, with a poignant observation: ''The most unexpected thing that happens to you when you enter society, and often when you have grown old there, is to find the world just as they have described it and as you know and believe it to be in theory.'' The 'Thoughts' can be read as the fragmentary record of that discovery.' --Times Literary Supplement

'For Edoardo Albinati, who has written the foreword to this translation (by J.G. Nichols), Leopardi is a poet ''of almost unbearable purity'' who transfigures a kind of contrary intellectual energy which is essentially, and gloriously, adolescent. These maxims combine the urbanity of Voltaire and La Rochefoucauld with the rhapsodic immaturity of such artists, closer home, as Giovanni Pascoli and Pier Paolo Pasolini.' --Indian Telegraph

From the Back Cover

Men are wretched by necessity, and determined to believe themselves wretched by accident.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas, but unfinished 2 Sep 2009
I had never heard of Leopardi before picking up this book - to be honest, I was seduced by the beautiful desert picture on the cover, and also the blurb's promise of amazing philosophical and psychological insights. What I got was basically the notebook of an intelligent, thoughtful person. There were some interesting ideas, but nothing was fully formed or developed enough to be particularly interesting to me. The book did a good job of skewering social pretensions and shallowness, but that was nothing particularly new. The book was unfinished in Leopardi's lifetime, and perhaps the finished version would have been brilliant. This sequence of half-formed thoughts and bon mots, however, was just a quick and not particularly satisfying read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neglected classic of pessimism now available in English 6 Jun 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Leopardi's _Thoughts_ (Pensieri) combines the aphoristic style of Pascal and other French moralists with the pessimistic world-view that inspired Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and other 19th century readers of his work. Leopardi in Italy occupies a place equivalent to Emerson in the US: read by every schoolchild and understood by almost none of them, yet still taken as emblematic of the national spirit. His pessimism may be absolute but it is also intensely spirited and does point towards resignation but rather towards exhiliartion. Everyone should read this book, along with his other work of prose, the _Moral Essays_.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gloom and doom in the style of the Pensees 29 Nov 2009
By Caraculiambro - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I discovered this long ago -- quite by accident -- deep in my college library and have always wanted to own a copy. It's the reflections of an Italian poet who lived around the time of Byron.

The dude was bleak. You thought Marcus Aurelius was bad? These are some of the most depressing little apercus you're ever gonna read.

Here's a sample of his irremediable blackness:

"Man is condemned either to consume his youth (which is the only time to store up fruit for the years to come and make provision for himself) without a purpose, or to waste it in procuring enjoyments for that part of his life in which he will no longer be capable of enjoyment." (p. 37)

In fact, this volume, consisting mainly of one such reflection after another, is so bleak it's almost comic. But, as Housman's Mithridates discovered, it can be salubrious in small doses.

The author's oft-anthologized poem, "The Broom," brings up the rear of this slim volume.

It may interest you to know that Leopardi, at least according to his blurb in "The Norton Anthology of Western Literature," is said to have studied so assiduously that he morphed into a nearly-blind hunchback (hence his gloom), eventually dying of despair.

This has long made me wonder if it really is medically possible not merely to study so much that you become a hunchback, but to actually die of despair. Sounds like his doctors were more familiar with poetry than they were with simple physiology.
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