Rediscovered Darkness: The Franciscan ideal in Gabriele d’Annunzio’s “nocturnal” prose
Institute of Greek and Latin Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague
A mio padre e mia madre
Abstract: An early interest in Saint Francis is manifested in the youthful works by Gabriele d’Annunzio. “Franciscan” are some of Alcyone’s famous poems that reflect the admiration for the clarity and the passionate depth of the saint’s Laudi. But it is in the writings that critics define as “nocturnal” that the Franciscan ideal deepens, drawing the culmination of the poet’s spiritual essence from memory and contemplation. The beginnings of the memorial turn date back to the French years (1910-15) with Le faville del maglio, texts in which the birth of “nocturnal” d’Annunzio is usually identified. The final approach to nocturnal art takes the form of a literary autobiography in perennial evolution that also relies on Franciscanism in its internal unfolding. This paper attempts to search these writings for a suitable key to interpreting the deep components regulating d’Annunzio’s relationship with Francis-which at times seems oriented towards the desire to achieve a sublimated spiritual identity. Such a vast subject matter requires, as is natural, more extensive interventions that the limits of one article cannot exhaust. As such, these exegetical premises can only activate partial analyses welded, however, to the systematic dimension of the problem. In the incessant circularity of motifs in which the relationship between texts that refer to each other consists, references to previous works (such as Alcyone and Le vergini delle rocce), multiple sources of the poet’s spiritual universe, could not be missing. Finally, the analysis benefits from some fragments of the Taccuini, precious documents for Dannunzian philologists, which, when combined with the works, allow a fruitful mutual relationship.
Keywords: Purity; Contemplation; Clarity; Reminiscence
“Ho catechizzato invano più in queste settimane di convalescenza che nei sedici mesi fiumani! (…) Io non sono e non voglio essere se non un Poverello d’Italia. Io non vivo se non del mio lavoro. Perciò faccio l’operaio della Parola.”
“Poverello d’Italia”: this is the historical definition that Gabriele d’Annunzio decrees of himself with the gloomy words addressed to his loyal factotum Antongini (quot. in Andreoli 2004: 166 and 2005b: 3461). The reference to Saint Francis, the poor man of Assisi, resounds in the depths of man at a topical moment for the fate of the nation. It is October 1922, and the inexorable ‘march on Rome’ is about to take place. For d’Annunzio it is the beginning of his perpetual exile and of the monumental epilogue of a public protagonism lasting many decades: the Vate, who is about to leave the political arena, retires to the shores of Lake Garda with the burden of the sacrifice of Fiume. Here “l’operaio della Parola” will devote himself until the end to a memorial writing that reveals him in his ontological nakedness.
The beginnings of this memorial turning point date back to the French years (1910-15) with the Faville del maglio, texts in which the birth of the “nocturnal” d’Annunzio is usually identified. Later, d’Annunzio’s prose will overcome the brevity of the fragment and will become torrential, with a retrospective look more and more extended until it goes back to the years of adolescence. This literary autobiography in perpetual evolution is the result of an impressive laboratory of private writing filled with notebooks and autograph sheets that finally claim the right to become works themselves. The title of one Favilla, Vivo, scrivo can effectively summarize this perfect identity between life and writing.
Before starting the construction of his own hermitage that will become the “Vittoriale” -sacrarium of the victorious war-, d’Annunzio donates his residence to the Italians. The act of donating the “Vittoriale degli Italiani” in 1923 is a gesture that reflects a paradoxical mysticism summed up in one of d’Annunzio’s most famous mottos, “io ho quel che ho donato”:[i] placed on the entrance arch of the “Vittoriale”, it stands as an epigraph of the monument of stones to be placed side by side with the monument of words of the Opera Omnia.[ii] Through a gesture of munificence, also the act of donation of the Vittoriale to the State corroborates “il paradosso di una privazione che significa possesso (…) nei termini di una mistica (…) della profusione” (Zanetti 2005b: 3119) that as such strengthens also the identification with Francis.
In the years of the long twilight at the Vittoriale, when the intimate prose replaces the narrative in first person, no longer able to objectify the author in the characters of the novels, d’Annunzio tends to make of Francis a spiritual alter ego. This intent is evident, for example, in a painting in the room entitled to the “leper”. Prominent among many Franciscan ornaments, the painting creates a symbiosis between d’Annunzio and Francis, interwoven with a vivid reference to the events of their respective biographies. The saint is portrayed as a leper—his entire body covered in bandages, one eye blindfolded—sacrificed after a heroic flight. His heroism for the Homeland having vanished, d’Annunzio is shown with the pitiable face of a leprosy patient. Francis, invaded by the experience of divine life, opens himself to the pitiful embrace of the leper who is no longer abhorred as before “quando era ancora nel peccato” (1Cel VII, 348).
Furthermore, in the most religious of the rooms furnished in the Vittoriale, “il cenacolo delle Reliquie, fra i Santi e gli Idoli,” (2005a: 1722) a tapestry of biblical subject hangs on the walls underneath a sequence of saints engraved with the verses of clear Franciscan reference:
“Tutti gli idoli adombrano il dio vivo … tutti i martiri annunciano un sorriso/ tutte le luci della santità/ fanno d’un cuor d’uomo il sole/ e fan d’ascesi l’oriente dell’anima immortale.” (D’Annunzio 2005b: 3508)
In addition to these references to the personal cult of the saint scattered in the Vittoriale, we must remember the personal relationships that d’Annunzio maintains in his solitude with a young Franciscan ascetic, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the future friar with the stigmata who will be canonized and whose fame as a miracle worker will attract numerous pilgrims and prayer groups. So he writes to him in a letter of 28 November 1924 to thank him for his visit in Gardone:
“Caterina la Senese mi ha insegnato a «gustare» le anime. Già conosco il pregio della tua anima, Padre Pio. E son certo che Francesco ci sorriderà come quando dall’inconsueto innesto prevedeva il fiore e il frutto inconsueti.” (28 November 1924, quot. in Andreoli 2004: 137)
The examples illustrate that the approach to nocturnal art in the direction of autobiography also relies on symbolic references to the saint. D’Annunzio’s Franciscanism is deepened in his stylistically similar “ardue prose”, written – as he further affirms in his introduction to the Faville - “a chiarezza di me, con la volontà costante di acuire sempre più la mia attenzione sopra la mia vita profonda” (D’Annunzio 2005a: 1072). Clarity and depth are two coessential themes that develop the common theme of a revealed darkness in a number of these uniform writings. The Alcyone’s noons of “coscienza abituale” (2005b: 2167) reveal themselves precisely when they are eclipsed, not unlike the nocturnal “anima della terra” (2166) hidden by light more than by darkness.
As a matter of fact, the premises of this relationship with the favorite saint have remote origins: Franciscan references emerge in many parts of his literary experience starting from the first short stories. Likewise, in the Vittoriale archives there are numerous notes on the life of the saint that fascinates Gabriele. Although abundant, in the youth phase, it is difficult to establish how authentic his Franciscan sentiments are. For example, the first novellas of Terra Vergine reveal a still immature relationship with Franciscanism, characterized by occasional motifs. In one novella, Fra Lucerta, the desire to emphasize the conflict between sensualism and spirituality is preponderant. The tale draws the title from the name of a Franciscan friar tormented by the erotic desire sparked by the feminine song and body. The weakness of the friar exalts by contrast the strength of Francis who - according to a legendary episode - throws himself among the brambles and thorns of the Porziuncola to suppress his carnal desire. The insistence of this motif also returns in Le vergini delle rocce, afflicting one of the protagonists, Massimilla, with the same theme of the tempting desire that assails Francis. In the novel, the purity of the girl, about to join the Order of Saint Clare, is threatened by the turbid sensuality of Cantelmo who quotes the lines from the Canticle of the Sun and tries to insinuate desire into her uncorrupted soul. A trace of d’Annunzio’s interest in this burning conflict between mysticism and sensuality is manifested in the same years in a page of his famous Taccuini: the precious “notebooks of memory” always carried by d’Annunzio, a perpetual diary in which he reports impressions and makes lightning-fast annotations. In Taccuino XIV of 1897 he compares the tortuous course of a stream in the Franciscan countryside to the desire that, like a snake, crept through “l’anima pura e perfetta di San Francesco” (1965: 182).
Abandoning this aestheticizing mystical imprint, in 1898 d’Annunzio begins the project of a sacred representation of the saint, Frate sole, inspired by repeated visits to Assisi alongside Eleonora Duse. He gives an enthusiastic announcement to his French translator Hérelle: (Pisani 2005b: 3680; 2015: 110). Despite his intentions, this project of the Franciscan tragedy was abandoned, a fate common to many unfinished works: “Tra i miei disegni -fra que’ tanti e tanti che la brevità della vita e la difficoltà dell’arte non mi consentiranno di compire”, as he will say in self defense in the pages of the Libro segreto (2005a: 1827). Although unfinished, the project of the Franciscan tragedy is an expression of strong interests, which in those years were fueled by the acquaintances of the Vate with distinguished medievalists such as D’Ancona and his disciple Novati—then professor of neo-Latin literature in Milan and future founder of the journal Studi Medievali. In particular, it is the latter that increases d’Annunzio’s interest in Franciscan literature and modules and, more generally, in poetry of the origins, the main object of the new discipline that will take the name of “Romance philology” (Andreoli 1991: 13). L’amor mistico in San Francesco d’Assisi ed in Jacopone da Todi by Novati stands out among d’Annunzio’s favorite readings in this period.
These are the fruitful years of d’Annunzio’s fortunate tragedies born from the encouragement to compose for the theatre, spurred on by his relationship with Duse. The great actress, who lived in the “Porziuncola” named after the chapel in which Francis founded the order—defined in the Faville “cuna lapidea” (2005a: 1096)—admired the landscape of Assisi just as d’Annunzio did. In the aforementioned Taccuino of 1897 d’Annunzio refers to Duse’s admiration of the land: “in nessuna parte del mondo la Natura è tanto vicina a noi quanto è nella campagna francescana.” (183). This spiritual impulse will return to Duse’s alter ego, Foscarina, the protagonist of Il Fuoco (1900). The end of the novel describes the perfect spiritual serenity found by the woman in communion with the oblivious Franciscan landscape surrounding the convent founded by the saint on the island of San Francesco del Deserto.
In the contemplation of nature as it appears in the scene, we can trace d’Annunzio’s adhesion to the aesthetic asceticism professed by Angelo Conti, who identifies intuition as the constitutive element of art. In the doctrines set out in La beata riva (1900) d’Annunzio recognizes “la legge per cui ogni cosa nella natura esprime all’esterno la sua propria forma interna.” (1900: XLVII). Therefore, even the immobile quiet of nature seen from the Franciscan perspective grants the artist “l’istante di oblio” (Conti 1900: 5).
The Contian eye of the artist who, forgetful of himself, is “in relazione non più mediata con la natura,” (10) is found in the more distinctly “Franciscan” poems of the first section of Alcyone - L'ulivo, La spica, La sera fiesolana- that echo the praises of the Canticle of the Sun. The almost literal quotations of the famous exhortations in passive form (Laudato si’...) reveal d’Annunzio’s admiration of the clarity and passionate depth of Francis' praises. The poet who admires the high mysticism of the Canticle also understands that Francis, in love with God, describes him with words that are less and less his own. The saint’s exhortations to praise God for creation that reflects His greatness are the immediate and eternal expression of the one who “nell’abisso della sua vita in Dio”, know that he cannot address himself to Him except with His own words (Leonardi 2004: XXXI).
The incipit of L'ulivo:
“Laudato sia l’ulivo nel mattino!”
Corresponds to that of La spica:
“Laudata sia la spica nel meriggio!”
In La sera fiesolana, carrying out a precise metric scheme, he places the hendecasyllables in praise of the evening in the first of three lines that follow each of the three stanzas of 14 lines and stand out like a melodic antiphon:
“Laudata sii per il tuo viso di perla,
“Laudata sii per le tue vesti aulenti,
“Laudata sii per la tua pura morte,
(D’Annunzio 1984: 429-430)
In this cadenced triple scheme, the final pre-eminence assigned to the hendecasyllable in praise of death stands out, placed in the relief of the closure like the Francis’lassa in praise of “sora nostra morte corporale”.
The stanzas retain natural elements that have characterized the contemplation of the Franciscan landscape described in the aforementioned Taccuino XIV: “fratelli olivi” (v.29), the elms and the vines wet by the rain, as in the descriptions of the notebook, testify to the essence and the totality of nature, revealed and continued in its individual elements:
“Nei campi gli olmi portano le viti. Ovunque sono sparsi questi verdi maritaggi non meno pii del connubio antico tra il Santo e la Povertà.” (1965: 189)
The traditional purity attributed to the “chaste” olive trees, in the Sera called Franciscan brothers (“i fratelli olivi/ che fan di santità pallidi i clivi”, vv. 29-30), is identified in the clarity of the auroral light of the rising morning. It is no coincidence that at the end of the Ulivo the morning light, “gioventù dell’aria”, is invoked by the poet to purify the “casto ulivo” with its vivifying power.
“O dolce Luce, gioventù dell’aria,
giustizia incorruttibile, divina
nudità delle cose, o Animatrice,
in noi discendi!
Tocca l’anima nostra come tocchi
Il casto ulivo in tutte le sue foglie;”
(D’Annunzio 1984: 432)
Annamaria Andreoli (1984: 1194) remembers that “dolce Luce” is a Dantism that already appeared in synaesthesia in a couplet of the Elegie romane (“parvemi … bere la dolce luce”, 1982: 387). On the symbolic values connected to the two terms of the synaesthetic relationship – “luce” and “bere” – d’Annunzio founds a web of analogies that can be traced back to the model of Francis. In the Contemplazione della morte, the combination of clarity and holiness is the basis of the comparison between Francis and Adolphe Bermond, the religious landlord who hosts d’Annunzio in France during the years of his exile and whose religiosity and candor were admired by the poet (Torchio 2008 : 132). The transit towards Bermond’s death, observed by the exile, is described in parallel with that of Francis. Man embraces “la nostra suora morte corporale” (2005b: 2150), as it has never happened “nella storia della santità” (ibid.). Having been stripped of all clothing, the dying old man appears like Francis, already dead to the world, in the episode narrated by Thomas of Celano (2Cel II, CLX). So the man who is no longer clothed with mortal remains, is replaced by the auroral splendor of the “«nuditate d’Amore» oltre la quale, in paragone di purezza, v’è soltanto la prima luce del mattino” (2150).
Again, the binomial clarity-holiness on the background of the Franciscan model appears in the Canzone d’Elena di Francia, the sixth of the Canzoni della gesta d’oltremare (later entitled Merope) which, in the same French years, interspersed the Faville to praise the Libyan War: the clarity of the birth of the Pleiades in the morning that gave rise to navigation prefigures Hélène’s “santità soave”. The heroism of the Duchesse who on the hospital ship Menfi, “pio viso di sorella”, offers relief to the Italian wounded in the Italian-Turkish war is celebrated with the double exhortation “sii benedetta” repeated in anaphor at the beginning of Dantesque triplets. The courage shown by Hélène develops in comparison with the heroism of Saint Louis, King of France who, in the same sea over six centuries earlier, buried the crusaders who died from the plague epidemic and remained a victim himself. The grandiloquent verses of d’Annunzio as an advocate of imperialism exalt the Franciscan sanctity of the king who heals the bodies of the sick with “pia mano” and is not repulsed - new Francis - to talk to lepers. The body of the saint transported on the Genoese ship is portrayed as Giotto frescoed it in the cycle for Saint Francis in the Bardi chapel in Florence, “con il cordiglio francescano” (1984: 695) according to a legend -accepted by d’Annunzio in his Note al libro di Merope- that makes the king “un terziario dell’Ordine” (748).
Beyond the heated nationalism of the Canzoni in support of the Italian-Turkish war, d’Annunzio’s life spent in French exile is essentially summed up in contemplation, inspired by the many Franciscan biographies of which the “bibliothecula gallica” is rich, such as he defines his library in Arcachon.[iii] However, when the war breaks out, the reasons for political and warrior life are imposed. He who in his younger years had proclaimed “io non sono e non voglio essere un poeta mero” (2005a: 1972), sees in the conflict a fate that he cannot escape. The occasion to see unleashed the action long held back in poetry, according to the words of Gaston Paris that d’Annunzio quotes in a letter to Hérelle about Cantelmo (“Sa poésie est –pour me servir d’une phrase que M. Gaston Paris a citée tout récemment (…) sa poésie est «de l’action retenue», quot. in Cimini 2004: 406). For the exile, the war establishes the moment to rise to the new role as the Vate, to resume - as we read in Le vergini delle rocce- “l’officio che si conviene” (…) “a colui che indica una meta certa e guida i seguaci a quella” (1989: 19). Thus, for d’Annunzio, that awaited and fatal day is realized, but still far away for his character whose vehement “getti di energia” are disheartened and rendered useless by “bassezza” and “disonore” of his era, so that it is inevitable to transform his forces in “viva poesia” (19).
Returning home in the “radiant days of May”, after the speeches that inflamed the crowd in Genoa and Rome, d’Annunzio enlists and risks his life in feats of flight and sea that celebrate his heroic virtues. In 1916 he is injured in an accident resulting in the loss of his right eye, forcing him to a period of blindness and immobility. From this condition some of the most lyrical pages of the Notturno are born, the heroic origin of a work written in part eye-impaired that reunites him with the contemplative and “nocturnal” atmosphere inaugurated in Arcachon. His “esplorazione d’ombra” - according to Cecchi’s lucky definition[iv] - is his most lasting conquest if, even after returning to the war, it will remain the primary area in the last horizon of Dannuzianism. It is also to be assumed that in the blindness d’Annunzio compared himself to Francis who suffered the same condition in San Damiano, a circumstance that gave rise to the original composition of the Canticle of the Sun.
Earlier we mentioned the allusive values connected to the theme of “thirst.” At the beginning, the theme evokes the image of desire that torments Francis’ senses, the dryness that recalls by contrast the absence of water, the only thing capable of relieving it. In the sonnet Assisi, also originating from the aforementioned Taccuino XIV, the images of the “riviera sitibonda” of the small arid stream, the “furor del suo sitire” that breaks the peace of the landscape are used to symbolize the violent thirst for desire that has invaded Francis.
On the contrary, the Notturno overturns this image and recalls in several places the thirst as martyrdom and physical suffering that afflicts the infirm d’Annunzio who is denied drinking for medical reasons. Where previously the figurative contrast between thirst for desire and the fire of senses exploded in Francis, the thirst for water now suffered by Gabriele contrasts with the ardor perceived in the depths of the wounded eye, and “sitibondo” is no longer the body of Francis thirsty for desire but the poet’s sick body: “Ho sete. Spasimo dalla sete (…) tutto il corpo è sitibondo” (247).
Deprivation also seems to carry out an ideal parallel with the austere abstinence practiced by Francis when he was burning with thirst (LegM 1086). Connoted in terms of excruciating suffering, lack is icastically accentuated time after time by a biblical reference, as in the refusal of the nurse in response to the request for “un sorso d’acqua” (163):
“Tu ti disseterai del tuo sudore e del tuo pianto”, echo of Genesis, 3, 19.
By means of hyperbolic amplifications:
“E non so se muoio dall’attesa o se muoio dalla tristezza o se muoio dalla sete.” (325)
By the simultaneous relation through synaesthesia:
“La sete mi urla dentro senza suono.” (391)
In one case, the description of the torment uses a pregnant word such as “acciaiare” which suggests a relationship with iron:
“Ho sempre sete. I torturatori mi vietano di bere e continuano ad acciaiarmi con l’iodio la bocca.” (306)
In a painful and funereal descriptive picture, the author seems reminiscent of the episode of the red-hot iron used by doctors on Francis’ temples on the verge of death. The episode narrated by Celano and Chavin had aroused an impression in d’Annunzio to the point of taking it up again in the Contemplazione della morte (2005b: 2151) and to leave in the text of Chavin a sign of reading and a cartouche with the note “Francesco e il ferro rovente” (Pisani 2005b: 3735).
After his recovery and without his right eye, “specchio dei perigli” like that of Lazaro Mocenigo in the Canzone dei Dardanelli (1984: 710), the fever of action urges him to the return to the heroic life, which is once again marked by Franciscan images.
About to fly over Pula (August 1917), he shouts for the first time the refrain of incitement to his fellow pilots in defiance of death: Eia, Eia, Eia! Alalà! On this occasion the cry of exultation, that will become famous among the legionaries of Fiume and will later resound in the twenty years of Fascism, exhibits an anaphoric sequence of Franciscan verses, revisited as follows:
Per Frate Focu che non ci abbrucerà!
Per Frate Vento che non ci rapirà!
Per Sora Acqua che non ci annegherà!
Eia, eia, eia! Alalà
Two months later, the “litania francescana di guerra” rises in chorus, varied, before another aerial feat following that of Pula, the flight over Kotor:
Per Frate Vento che non ci avverserà,
eia, eia, eia! Alalà!
Per Frate Focu che non ci arderà,
eia, eia, eia! Alalà!
Per Suor Acqua che non ci affogherà, eia, eia, eia! Alalà!
(D’Annunzio 1965: 1035)
The enterprise stands out against a Franciscan background evoked by the pages of the Taccuini CXI, CXII and CXIII that detail the preparations. A series of adverse events delays the flight which, after days of exhaustive waiting, finally takes off -”evento liberatore” (1006)-, on 4 October, the day of Saint Francis. The spiritual bond that unites d’Annunzio with the saint is evoked once again in terms of brightness and radiance that seem to prefigure a new ‘youth of the air’: “È il mattino di San Francesco. Tra poco egli canterà il Cantico del Sole” (1029). The intimism of the description is such that, in this incessant renewal of circular relations between oeuvres relating to each other, the text of the Taccuino, so to speak, allows itself be spoken by Francis. Even the night of take-off on the Gioia del Colle runway, in “Puglia estrema”(1346), is “adamantina”, purified by the protection of the saint, considered “il patrono che conosce il «passaggio d’oltremare»” (1029) for having traced in the itinerary to the Holy Land the maritime line that the air route is preparing to follow (“stanotte egli farà del suo cappuccio un’ala e la tenderà col suo cordiglio”, 1035).
The image is certainly reminiscent of the double “passaggio d’oltremare” referred in Note a Merope (1984: 746) to the two crusades of Saint Louis, celebrated as seen in the role of the Franciscan martyr. Beyond the overwhelming “pienezza di vita” it infuses, the flight is an experience that, in its ascent, goes beyond the real sphere to draw a further one in a mystical crossing of the limits (“vorrei poter significare il tono musicale di questa preparazione non al ‘passaggio d’oltremare’ ma al ‘passaggio d’oltremondo’ ”, 1033). And here the nocturnal theme returns to the foreground. Alone with his fate in the spreading night, in the heroic moment, the poet’s soul “si agguaglia agli elementi, diventa notturna” (1038).
Once again, the Taccuini are linked to nocturnal prose. Memory entrusts to the thematic repertoire the search for a clear and steady image of the saint, blocked in the distinct purity of his contours: Francis, a universal emblem capable of designating both the specific degree of d’Annunzio’s spirit and an absolute and super-individual reality.
Having completed the research, I owe my debt of profound gratitude to: Valerie Bogdan, Vincenzo Paolino, Claudio Pace, Annamaria Andreoli, Maria Teresa Imbriani, Carla Pisani. I am also grateful to the management and staff of biblioteca centrale di Lettere, Filosofia e Scienze della formazione “Corsano” and its sezione di Italianistica of “Aldo Moro” University of Bari; to the management and staff of the libraries of “Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici” -specifically, Scienze dell’antichità and Studi classici e cristiani- of “Aldo Moro” University of Bari; to the management and staff of biblioteca comunale “Chiantera” of Polignano a Mare; to the staff of biblioteca civica “Rendella” of Monopoli. To my Nevio.
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Andreoli A., Zanetti G. (a cura di) (2005). Gabriele d’Annunzio. Prose di Ricerca. Volume 1. Milano: Mondadori.
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Cimini, M. (a cura di) (2004). Carteggio d’Annunzio – Hérelle. Lanciano: Carabba.
Conti, A. (1900). La beata riva. Trattato dell’oblio. Milano: Fratelli Treves Editori.
D’Annunzio, G. (1965). Taccuini (a cura di Enrica Bianchetti e Roberto Forcella). Milano: Mondadori.
Leonardi, C. (a cura di), (2004). La letteratura francescana. Volume I. Francesco e Chiara d’Assisi. Milano: Fondazione Valla Mondadori.
Mariotti, S. (2000). Scritti di filologia classica. Roma: Salerno editrice.
Pisani, C. (comm.) (2005b) Gabriele d’Annunzio, Contemplazione della morte in Prose di Ricerca. Volume 2. Milano: Mondadori.
Pisani, C. (2015). Una fonte francescana tra il ‘Martyre de Saint Sébastien’e la ‘Contemplazione della morte’: Paul Alphandery in: D’Annunzio drammaturgo d’avanguardia. Le martyre de Saint Sébastien e La Pisanelle (a cura di Carlo Santoli), Alessandria, Edizioni dell’orso.
Torchio, E. (a cura di) (2008). Carteggio Pascoli - D’Annunzio, Bologna: Pàtron editore.
FRANCISCAN SOURCES MENTIONED IN ABBREVIATED FORM:
1Cel Tommaso da Celano, Vita beati Francisci (Vita I)
2Cel Tommaso da Celano, Memoriale in desiderio animae (Vita II)
* All the quotations by d’Annunzio present in the text - with the exception of the Taccuini - refer to the edition of the works by Gabriele d’Annunzio published in “Meridiani Mondadori”.
[i] Scevola Mariotti observes that the motto dates back to a fragment of Rabirius’ poem on the war between Octavian and Antony, quoted by Seneca in De Beneficiis (VI, 3, 1): “hoc habeo quodcumque dedi” [Mariotti 2000: 579-580].
[ii] As it is well known, d’Annunzio’s oeuvres were rearranged by himself for the national edition starting from 1927.
[iii] It is known that d’Annunzio’s expatriation was caused by the inglorious siege of creditors. Here the alteration in “bibliothecula” reduces the value and size of the Arcachon library compared to the vast library of the Capponcina set up over the years. The Settignano villa, “casa dei sogni e delle opere”, had been auctioned with all that was contained therein. In sad pages, the exile will also regret the Franciscan and “monastic” furnishings, witnesses of the works composed with “so chaste hand”: “Or dov’è, or a chi serve e a quale uso, quella semplice e massiccia tavola francescana trovata nel refettorio di un monastero perugino? E quella gentile scrivania, anche monacale, ad uso di scrivere in piedi (…) E là io composi (…) con mano sì casta quel trasparente Ulivo, e quella fresca Sera fiesolana” [quot. in Andreoli, 2005b: 3451].
[iv] See E. Cecchi, Il “Notturno” e l’esplorazione d’ombra in Ritratti e profili. Saggi e note di letteratura italiana, Garzanti, Milano 1957.