Salvatore Quasimodo Biography

(Italian Poet, Translator and Winner of 1959 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Birthday: August 20, 1901 (Leo)

Born In: Modica, Italy

Salvatore Quasimodo was an Italian poet, author, critic and translator. He was considered as one of the leading Italian poets of the twentieth century. From being an adherent of the Hermetic poets like Eugenio Montale and Giuseppe Ungaretti, he eventually emerged as one of the leaders of the Hermetic movement. His works during this period include ‘Acque e terre’ (1930), ‘Oboe sommerso’ (1932), ‘Odore di eucalyptus’ (1933), ‘Erato e Apollion’ (1936), ‘Poesie’ (1938) and ‘Ed è subito sera’ (1942). He chaired the Italian literature at Milan’s ‘Guiseppe Verdi Conservatory’ in 1941. Quasimodo faced confinement, although for a short while, at the time of the ‘Second World War’ due to his anti-Fascist leanings. His works of poetry in ‘Nuove poesie’ (1942) gives an inkling of his works post the ‘Second World War’ which reflects understanding of social scenario, challenges, grievances and hope of a common man. Soon he emerged as an eminent poet on contemporary history and social issues. His works during this period include ‘Giorno dopo giorno’ (1947), ‘La vita non é sogno’ (1949), ‘Il falso e vero verde’ (1956), and ‘La terra impareggiabile’ (1958). His outstanding body of works earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959. He received ‘honoris causa’ degree from the ‘University of Messina’ in 1960 and that from the ‘University of Oxford’ in 1967.
Quick Facts

Italian Celebrities Born In August

Died At Age: 66


Spouse/Ex-: Bice Donetti, Maria Cumani Quasimodo

father: Gaetano Quasimodo

mother: Clotilde Ragusa

siblings: Enzo Quasimodo, Ettore Quasimodo, Rosa Quasimodo

children: Alessandro Quasimodo, Orietta Quasimodo

Nobel Laureates In Literature Poets

Died on: June 14, 1968

place of death: Naples, Italy

Cause of Death: Cerebral Hemorrhage

Childhood & Early Life
He was born on August 20, 1901, in Modica, Sicily to Gaetano Quasimodo and Clotilde Ragusa. His father was a railroad employee.
His family relocated to Messina in 1908, where his father was delegated to help people hit due to a catastrophic earthquake.
He joined the ‘Institute of Mathematics and Physical Palermo Technical’ in 1916.
His first poems were published in ‘Nuovo giornale letterario’, a monthly journal, though short-lived, founded by him in 1917.
He completed his graduation from the Technical College of Messina in 1919 and then moved to Rome to complete his education in engineering at the ‘Politecnico’ there, but had to drop out due to financial constraints. He also studied Greek and Latin.
He took up odd jobs like working in a departmental store and as a technical draftsperson in a construction company.
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He relocated to Florence in 1929 after accepting an invitation from his brother-in-law and writer Elio Vittorini. Vittorini introduced him to poets like Arturo Loria, Eugenio Montale, Alessandro Bonsanti and Gianna Manzini. Eventually he became an adherent of the Hermetic movement.
In 1930 he was appointed by the ‘Civil Engineering Corps’ and was posted in Reggio Calabria in southern Italy. The same year he published three of his poems ‘Tree’, ‘First Time’ and ‘Angels’ in ‘Solaria’ magazine.
Thereafter in 1930 itself he came out with his first collection of poems, ‘Acque e terre’ (‘Waters and Earths’), which was published for ‘Solaria’ editions. The collection was based on the theme of Sicily, his native place that he left years ago.
He relocated to Imperia in 1931 and thereafter to Genoa. In Genoa he met several personalities of ‘Circoli’ magazine including Camillo Sbarbaro.
His successful alliance with ‘Circoli’ magazine saw him publish his second collection of poems, ‘Oboe sommerso’ (‘Sunken Oboe’) with them in 1932. He is seen as a more matured poet and the poems stand out for their rhythmic synchronisation of words encompassing a lyrical core.
He shifted to Milan in 1934 and gave up his job in 1938 and started concentrating fully on his writings. He worked for the Hermetic movement’s official review, ‘Letteratura’ and also worked with Cesare Zavattini, an Italian screenwriter and an advocate of the Neorealist movement in Italian cinema.
He became the editor of ‘Tempo’, a weekly magazine in 1938. His other Hermetic works include ‘Odore di eucalyptus’ (‘Scent of Eucalyptus ‘) in 1933, ‘Erato e Apollion’ in 1936, ‘Poesie’ in 1938 and ‘Ed è subito sera’ (‘And Suddenly It’s Evening’) in 1942.
In 1941 he took the chair of Italian literature at Milan’s ‘Guiseppe Verdi Conservatory’.
Even though he was candid about his anti-Fascist views, he chose to refrain from participating in the Italian resistance during the ‘Second World War’.
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His work in ‘Nuove poesie’ (1942) reflected an impact of the classical stylistics and social surroundings that hinted on the themes of his future works post the ‘Second World War’. His writings encompassed comprehension of the social scenario, hardships, resentments and aspirations of commoners.
He became an ‘Italian Communist Party’ member in 1945.
His works post ‘Second World War’ include ‘Giorno dopo giorno’ (‘Day After Day’) in 1947, ‘La vita non é sogno’ (‘Life Is Not a Dream’) in 1949, ‘Il falso e vero verde’ (‘The False and True Green’) in 1956, and ‘La terra impareggiabile’ (The Incomparable Land’) in1958. All these collections reflected Quasimodo’s ethical and moralistic perception as well as critical views towards the society.
Some of his translation works include ‘Greek lyrics’ translation (1940), ‘The Gospel according to John’ (1945), ‘Odyssey’ (1946), ‘Oedipus the King’ (1947) and ‘Songs of Catullus' (1955).
Two anthologies of Italian poems edited by Quasimodo include ‘Italian opera of love, from its origins to the present day’ (1957) and ‘Italian poetry of the post-war period’ (1958).
The last stage of his life saw him visiting America and Europe a number of times delivering lectures and speeches on his poems that were already translated in various other languages.
Awards & Achievements
In 1959 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Bice Donetti In 1926. Donetti died in 1948. He later married a renowned Italian dancer.
In 1935 a daughter was born to him outside his marriage.
On June 14, 1968, he died of cerebral haemorrhage in a hospital in Naples. He was buried in Milan at the ‘Cimitero Monumentale’.

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