The Nobel Prize in Literature 1975
Born: 12 October 1896, Genoa, Italy
Died: 12 September 1981, Milan, Italy
Residence at the time of the award: Italy
Prize motivation: “for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions”
Prize share: 1/1
Eugenio Montale was born in Genoa, Italy. He took voice lessons from baritone Ernesto Sivori, but the outbreak of World War I, the death of Sivori and his decision to pursue poetry led him to abandon his music career. He settled in Florence in 1928 where he became director of the Gabinett Vieusseux library. Ten years later he was dismissed when he refused to ally himself with Mussolini. Beginning in 1948, he served as a music critic for the Italian newspaper Corriera della Sera along with his other writing.
In 1925 Eugenio Montale published his first poetry collection, Ossi di seppia (Cuttlefish Bones), which immediately became one of the classics of contemporary Italian poetry. His collection of poems written in the middle of World War II, Finisterre (1943), was smuggled to Switzerland and printed there. Montale’s poetry, in particular his vocabulary, style and imagery, is inspired by fellow Italian Dante Alighieri, but Montale created something of his own that was very modern from the work of the 14th century poet.
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