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A System That Excludes All Systems

Giacomo Leopardi's «Zibaldone di pensieri»

Emanuela Cervato

For many decades Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone di pensieri has been seen as a collection of temporary thoughts and impressions whose final expression is to be found in the published poems (the Canti) and satirical dialogues (the Operette morali). The conceptual consistency of the work was thereby denied, privileging Leopardi the poet over Leopardi the thinker.

This book shows that such a perceived lack of coherence is merely illusory. The Zibaldone is drawn together by an intricate web of references centring around topics such as the ambivalent concept of nature; the Heraclitean «union of opposites» (ancients and moderns, poetry and philosophy, reason and imagination); and the tension between the desire for happiness and the impossibility of its realization. Largely unknown to the English-speaking world until its translation in 2013, the Zibaldone is Leopardi’s intellectual diary, the place where dialogue with the ancient classical traditions evolves into modern encyclopaedism and what has been described as «thought in movement». It establishes Leopardi as one of the most original and radical thinkers of the nineteenth century.


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Leopardi’s works Canti, translated by Jonathan Galassi (London: Penguin, 2010). Dissertazioni filosofiche, ed. Tatiana Crivelli (Padova: Antenore, 1995). Epistolario, ed. Patrizia Landi and Franco Brioschi (Torino: Bollati Boringhieri, 1998). The Letters of Giacomo Leopardi 1817–1837, ed. and translated by Prue Shaw (Leeds: Northern Universities Press, 1998). Manuale di Epitteto (Milano: Claudio Gallone Editore, 1998). Manuale di filosofia pratica, ed. Fabiana Cacciapuoti (Roma: Donzelli, 1998). Operette morali/Essays and Dialogues, translated by Giovanni Cecchetti (Berkeley, CA, Los Angeles and London: University of California, 1982). Trattato delle passioni, ed. Fabiana Cacciapuoti (Roma: Donzelli, 1997). Tutte le opere, ed. Francesco Flora (Milano: Mondadori, 1940). Tutte le opere (CD-Rom), ed. Lucio Felici (Roma: Lexis Progetti Editoriali, 1998). Zibaldone, ed. Emanuele Trevi, Marco Dondero and Wanda Marra (Roma: Newton Compton, 2007). Zibaldone, ed. Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013). Zibaldone di pensieri, Vol. 3, ed. Giuseppe Pacella (Milano: Garzanti, 1991). Zibaldone di pensieri, Vol. 3, ed. Rolando Damiani (Milano: Mondadori, 1997). Zibaldone di pensieri (CD-Rom), ed. Fiorenza Ceragioli and Monica Ballerini (Bolo- gna: Zanichelli, 2009). Secondary references Aarseth, Espen, ‘Nonlinearity and Literary Theory’, in Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds, The New Media Reader (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994), 762–80. ——, Cybertext. Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). 230 Bibliography Abbagnano, Nicola, ‘Filosofia’, in Dizionario di filosofia (Torino: UTET, 1971). Acanfora, Sivana, et al., Appunti preliminari: argomenti per lo ‘Zibaldone’, in E. Peruzzi, ed., G. Leopardi. Zibaldone di pensieri, Vol. X, edizione...

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