Momigliano, Attilio

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MOMIGLIANO, ATTILIO (1883–1952), Italian literary critic, and historian. Momigliano was born in Asti to observant Jewish parents; he studied literature at the University of Torino, under the direction of the critic and writer Arturo Graf, and was professor of Italian literature at the universities of Catania, Pisa and Florence. After 1938 he was forced out of academic life by Mussolini's racist legislation and settled in Florence, where he continued to write under the pen name of Giorgio Flores. In 1943–44, during the German occupation of Italy, he took shelter in a hospital in Borgo San Sepolcro, where he was accepted as a patient by a cooperative doctor; he made use of this period to write a commentary to Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata. He returned to his teaching post, but only as substitute, following the liberation. Momigliano has been called "an attentive and subtle impressionist of criticism." He was remarkably alive to the most delicate vibrations of poetry, reconstructing character motivation and presenting the results of his diligent reading in a calm and lucid prose. He was particularly skillful in bringing out detail in texts ranging from Dante's Divina Commedia to Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata. The critic Luigi Russo found in Momigliano's Jewish origin an explanation for his isolation and historical detachment. A prolific writer, Momigliano published short literary essays and textual commentaries in the Italian press, all of unusual interest. His works include: Impressioni di un lettore contemporaneo (1925), Introduzione ai poeti (1946), Studi di poesia (1938; 19482), and Elzeviri (1945). He also wrote valuable monographs such as L'indole e il riso di L. Pulci (1907), Carlo Porta (1910), and Dante, Manzoni e Verga (1944), but his best books were perhaps those based on his knowledge and analysis of Manzoni's works: L'Innominato (1913) and La vita e le opere del Manzoni (19333). His Storia della letteratura italiana (1932), was reprinted several times after the author's death, and was studied by generations of high-school and university students.


G. Trombatore, Saggi critici (1950), 266–75; G. Getto, Poeti… (1953), 138–61; L. Russo, La critica letteraria contemporanea (1967), index; N. Libertini, in: Annuario dell'Istituto tecnicostatale G. Galilei di Firenze (1966), 3–33. add. bibliography: G. Di Pino, in: G. Grana (ed.), Letteratura italiana. I critici, vol. 3 (1973), 2091–111; A. Biondi (ed.), Attilio Momigliano. Atti del Convegno di studi nel centenario della nascita (1990); R. Bonavita, in: Storia e problemi contemporanei, 32 (2003), 45–52.

[Louisa Cuomo /

Alessandro Guetta (2nd ed.)]

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Momigliano, Attilio

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