Published for the first time in 1831, and here presented in a dual-language edition with some of his lesser-known unpublished poems, Leopardi's poetical masterpiece is an unsurpassed anatomy of man's unhappiness on earth.
Trapped between an admiration for the classical past and a disappointment in the impoverished present, Leopardi rejected both the easy allure of Catholic faith and the unbridled optimism proposed by science and the Enlightment. In his world view, all that we love and value is illusion, the truth existing deep in our minds and souls as poignant memories, unrequited passion and stoical acceptance of nature's bleak elementals. Leopardi's unflinching pessimism and existential resolve, here brilliantly rendered in verse by prize-winning translator J.G. Nichols, make him the most fascinating and best loved of the Italian poets.
'Far and away the best value paperback of the year... These are poems to take with you for life.' David Sexton, Evening Standard
'The miraculous thing about his poetry is that he simply takes the weight out of language, to the point that it resembles moonlight.' Italo Calvino
'He was endowed in a peculiar degree with most of the faculties which belong to the highest excellence.' William Gladstone
'The words of "La vita solitaria" by Leopardi seemed to come out of the trunk of a tree – hopeless, uncrushable sentiments.' Bob Dylan
'The great poet of desolation.' Paul Bailey
'Perhaps the finest Italian poet after Dante.' Tim Parks
Read an excerpt from Canti