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Hugo Foscolo (Zakynthos 1778 - London 1827) was a writer whose ideological principles and actions had caused lively debates and great enmities. Between 1807 and 1811, Foscolo had clashed fiercely with...
Hugo Foscolo (Zakynthos 1778 - London 1827) was a writer whose ideological principles and actions had caused lively debates and great enmities. Between 1807 and 1811, Foscolo had clashed fiercely with a group of silver-tongued and sycophantic intellectuals from Napoleonic Milan. This conflict went beyond personal rivalries and highlighted different...
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Hugo Foscolo (Zakynthos 1778 - London 1827) was a writer whose ideological principles and actions had caused lively debates and great enmities. Between 1807 and 1811, Foscolo had clashed fiercely with a group of silver-tongued and sycophantic intellectuals from Napoleonic Milan. This conflict went beyond personal rivalries and highlighted different perspectives on crucial issues such as philology, poetry, and the relationship between politics and intellect. "The Supper" began to be written in 1810, copied by hand by Andreas Kalvos during its editing process, and was falsely printed in Zurich in 1816. As Foscolo himself notes, "it is a satire against the intellectuals of Italy who, by exploiting knowledge and truth, destroy the philology of this nation and foster the ambition and mistakes of Napoleon. The customs of such intellectuals, their base passions, and personal character of some are depicted in order to make it clear that the misfortunes of the turbulent political situation in Europe and the enslavement of Italy were born from the lies of men of letters, which are spread for the temporary benefit of the rulers." Wearing the literary mask of the Twin Cleric, at the time of Napoleon's fall, at the most critical moment of the Italian national issue, Foscolo delivers a denunciatory speech against the people of intellect who trade knowledge, who flatter the victor, who submit to power. The demand for intellectual freedom that emerges from Foscolo's-Twin Cleric's speech makes "The Supper" one of the most emblematic texts in European philology during the transition from the traditional intellectual to the intellectual. In his introductory note, Dimitris Arvanitakis summarizes Foscolo's position as follows: "the duty of the man of letters is not blind praise of power or flattery of the leader, not the pursuit of wealth and personal glory, but the expression of his own authentic need and his mediating role between power and society, with the deeper goal of raising society itself. Therefore, the vital space of intellect should not be the closed walls of the Court, but the broad horizon of society. Under certain circumstances - I mean the climax of the national fever - Foscolo's lesson was even clearer: it is the duty of intellectuals to highlight the face, the history, and the wealth of Italy, to make the contemporaries learn from the great figures of Italian past. To see their own work within the horizon of the new: within the horizon of the Italian nation." "The Supper" surpasses the limits of a libel and rises to the level of a work of art, as well as a testimony of a certain stage in the development of Italian intellect and Italian history. It is an interpretive and allegorical text, written in a biblical style, traveling through the great river of "visionary" literature. For the Greek reader, it can also serve as a key to a new, enriched reading of "The Woman of Zakynthos," as it brings them into contact with a literary landscape to which "The Supper" belongs and from which the equally interpretive Solomonic text undoubtedly originates.
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