The Nobel Prize in Literature 1959
Born: 20 August 1901, Modica, Italy
Died: 14 June 1968, Naples, Italy
Residence at the time of the award: Italy
Prize motivation: “for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times”
Prize share: 1/1
When he was young, Salvatore Quasimodo wanted to be an engineer, and he began studies in Rome. However, lack of finances forced him to interrupt his education. One of his jobs involved making technical drawings in the Italian government’s civil engineering company, which took him to different parts of Italy. His first collection of poems, Acque e terre (Waters and Lands), appeared in 1930, and beginning in 1938, he devoted himself entirely to writing. He was an outspoken anti-fascist during World War II, and in 1945 he became a member of the Italian Communist Party.
In 1917 Salvatore Quasimodo founded the publication Nuovo giornale letterario (New Literary Journal), where his first poems were published. His work is usually divided into the Hermetic and Post-Hermetic schools of poetry, separated by World War II which contributed to a change in his literary expression. Hermetic poetry opposed the use of language as verbal manipulation and regarded language as something subjective, with no objective meaning, where the sound of the words is as important as their meaning. Quasimodo’s later works show a change from individualism toward a more social-minded poetry.
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