Leopardi lettore di Algarotti

Giuseppe Antonio Camerino

Contrary to that retained by some, Leopardi’s interest in Algarotti dates still earlier than the period 1813-1815 and in particular manifests itself on two levels. The first concerns linguistic questions, such as the difference between the French language and the Italian language, or theoretical issues like the concept of imitation or the art/nature relationship, up to the model of the Horatian epistle characterised as satiric/moral poetry. Without forgetting, moreover, the preeminent function attributed by the one and the other to prose genres, with special reference to the dialogue genre and to aphoristic writing formulated as reflections. The second level instead concerns a concept that was fundamental to both, namely that of boredom, seen by Algarotti as «the worst evil to come out of Pandora’s box», while the author of the Canti, on an Alfierian/Foscolian line, perceives that unhappiness, a general condition of all living beings, is not indistinctly felt or understood as such by all men, but is rather a sentiment that involves only a few individuals of exceptional spirituality and nobility of the soul, of ‘powerful feeling’, Alfieri would have said, for whom unhappiness is above all a mark of moral distinction.