“IT IS CLEAR THAT HIS OUTLOOK ON THE WORLD IS ENTIRELY SENSUOUS”: GABRIELE D’ANNUNZIO’S FRANCESCA DA RIMINI, 1902
D’ANNUNZIO, Gabriele. Francesca da Rimini. Milano: Fratelli Treves, 1902. Small quarto, original full vellum, gilt-decorated cover and spine, silk ties, uncut. $650.
First edition of Italian poet, playwright and film-maker Gabriele D’Annunzio’s Francesca da Rimini, written for his lover, actress Eleanora Duse, who first performed the title role in Rome on December 9, 1901—hailed as “the first real tragedy ever given to the Italian theatre.” Illustrated by Art-Nouveau Italian artist Adolfo de Carolis.
In keeping with the prevailing Decadent aesthetic, Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio “combined in his work naturalism, symbolism, and erotic images, becoming the best interpreter of European decadence… His love affairs… made him a legend in his own time” (Liukkonen & Pesonen). “D’Annunzio is above all things a great lyric poet… [but] his energies found a fuller outlet in his novels and tragedies than in his poetry” (L. Collison-Morley). Both his sensuous style and his erotic subject matter began to startle his critics. Many who had hailed him as an enfant prodige rejected him as perverting public morals, while others praised him for offering vitality in contrast to the somewhat stogy work of his contemporaries. Based on Dante’s Paolo e Francesca, D’Annunzio’s Francesca da Rimini was a splendid depiction of medieval atmosphere and emotion, “dazzling by the torrential facility of his verse” (James Thomas Grein), and declared to be “the first real tragedy ever given to the Italian theatre” (Edoardo Boutet). In the English stage production in October 1903, with the world-famous actress Eleanora Duse (D’Annunzio’s lover) as Francesca, “the touch of tragedy magnetized the audience into breathless silence” (Grein). The illustrations are by Art-Nouveau Italian painter, xylographer, illustrator and photographer Adolfo de Carolis, who made major contributions to the Italian “In Arte Libertas” movement, which embraced the aesthetics of Ruskin and Morris. Text in Italian. Owner signature and pencil annotations of S.V.H. Russo of Arrochar, Staten Island. Notes laid in.
Light dampstain to top margin of first few gatherings, warping to vellum cover, silk ties fragmentary. An extremely good copy.