Giovanni Verga : biography
Giovanni Carmelo Verga (2 September 1840 – 27 January 1922) was an Italian realist (Verismo) writer, best known for his depictions of life in Sicily, and especially for the short story (and later play) Cavalleria Rusticana and the novel I Malavoglia (The House by the Medlar Tree).
Life and career
The first son of Giovanni Battista Catalano Verga and Caterina Di Mauro, Verga was born into a prosperous family of Catania in Sicily. He began writing in his teens, producing the largely unpublished historical novel Amore e Patria (Love and Country); then, although nominally studying law at the University of Catania, he used money his father had given him to publish his I Carbonari della Montagna (The Carbonari of the Mountain) in 1861 and 1862. This was followed by Sulle lagune (On the Lagoons) in 1863.
Meanwhile, Verga had been serving in the Catania National Guard (1860–64), after which he travelled to Florence several times, settling there in 1869.
He moved to Milan in 1872, where he developed his new approach, characterized by the use of dialogue to develop character, which resulted in his most significant works. In 1880 his story collection Vita dei campi (Life in the Fields), including "Fantasticheria" ("Daydreaming"), "La Lupa" ("The She-wolf"), and "Pentolaccia" ("The Plaything"), most of which were about rural Sicily, came out. It also included "Cavalleria Rusticana" ("Rustic Chivalry"), which he adapted for the theatre and later formed the basis for several opera librettos including Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Gastaldon’s Mala Pasqua!. Verga’s short story, "Malaria", was one of the first literary depictions of the disease malaria.
He then embarked on a projected series of five novels, but only completed two, I Malavoglia and Mastro-don Gesualdo (1889), the second of which was the last major work of his literary career. Both are widely recognized as masterpieces.
In 1894 Verga moved back to Catania, to the house in which he had lived as a child. In 1920 he was appointed Senator of the Kingdom (Senatore del Regno) for life (ad vitam). He died of a cerebral thrombosis in 1922.
The Teatro Verga in Catania is named after him. His house in via Sant’Anna is now a museum, the Casa-Museo Giovanni Verga.
The book Le immagini e le parole dei Malavoglia by Silvia Iannello (Sovera, Roma, 2008), contains passages from Verga’s novel I Malavoglia with commentary and photographs of Aci Trezza and a chapter devoted to Visconti’s 1948 film La terra trema which was based on the novel.
He was an atheist.Simona Cigliana, Roberto Fedi, Giovanni Verga, Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 2002, p. 287.