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Heinrich Heine and Giacomo Leopardi

The Rhetoric of Midrash


Delia Fabbroni-Giannotti Nisbet

For quite some time critics have been intrigued by the unique rhetorical strategies of Heinrich Heine’s and Giacomo Leopardi’s narratives. This book breaks new ground in the field of Heine and Leopardi scholarship by providing a critical analysis of similarities between the rhetorical strategies of Heinrich Heine’s text Ludwig Börne. Eine Denkschrift and Giacomo Leopardi’s «Il Cantico del Gallo Silvestre» (in Operette Morali) and the midrashic process. In their texts, Heine and Leopardi interweave biblical references, historical events, and personal encounters with their narrative and juxtapose them to a contemporary situation, thus presenting the reader with their interpretation of an existential experience. These narratives are midrashic in inviting multiple interpretations of equal validity. In an age imbued with optimism, Heine and Leopardi discredit the whole tradition of the eschatological messianic message of redemption and negate the Enlightenment’s belief in the renewal of society.