[Milton-L] Great, unhappy souls

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 27 16:26:02 EST 2010

The term "unhappy" in English might convey the sense of "unlucky" -- could that be what Leopardi meant? What was the Italian term used?

Jeffery Hodges

From: Dario Rivarossa <dario.rivarossa at gmail.com>
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Sent: Thu, January 28, 2010 4:36:49 AM
Subject: [Milton-L] Great, unhappy souls

Hi Jason ---

well, I should explain things a bit better. First of all, "unhappy" is
the way Leopardi describes Milton, not necessarily a portrait of
Milton "as is".
But, more than that, Leopardi was a neo-Enlightenment thinker rather
than a Romantic dreamer, and his atheistic philosophy is the top of
rationality ever produced by culture in Italy. So "unhappy" means
basically "not understood", "too great to be appreciated by his own
fellow citizens".
Finally, "unhappy" in this case styles somebody who dares look into
the world's most unpleasant truths.

>Didn't one of Milton's wives (I think it was Elizabeth Minshull) object to
the engraved portraits because they made Milton look dour--entirely unlike
the smiling person she knew? I don't have the exact reference to hand at the
moment (no doubt some other listmember does). Of course, I recognize that
Dario's talking about something like romantic melancholy, which isn't
necessarily incompatible with being happy in the usual sense--at least I
hope not...

Jason A. Kerr
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