Date of Completion

January 1980


Literature, Romance




The aim of this study is to give an unpretentious and straightforward account of the place that Bonsanti occupies in twentieth century Italian literature. The reader who wants to know about Bonsanti and his works will find enough in this dissertation to bring himself up to date on critical estimates. The works of Bonsanti cover a period of fifty years, from his tentative beginning as a short story writer to his maturity as a capable novelist and playwright.^ Under the direction of his parents he attended Engineering School, but his studies were precluded due to financial difficulties. Finding himself in need of work, he moved to Milan, where he was hired as a bank clerk. He remained in this activity for three years, but we can not say that he found satisfaction in his work. His passion was literature. Bonsanti read Italian, European, and American authors, and he also showed profound interest in literary magazines such as La Ronda, Novecento, and Il Baretti. Immediately after the Milanese sojourn, Bonsanti moved back to Florence where he made contact with some of the leading figures of the antifascist movement. Together with Alberto Carocci he founded Solaria. Bonsanti's early affiliation with important names in the literary world gave him a privileged start. Meanwhile, his first narrative attempts had begun. Already in 1928, while he was still in Milan, he had published in Fiera Letteraria his first short story, Briganti in Maremma.^ His early fiction is comprised mostly of short stories set in the historic-social climate of the early nineteenth century. Topics, characters, and actions are contemplated with detachment, the author looking from afar on the background of a lyrically delineated landscape that frames the long and frequent reflective monologues of the protagonists.^ With few variations one can find the same characteristics in subsequent works: Racconto militare, 1937; Introduzione al gran viaggio, 1940; La vipera e il toro, 1955; I cavalli di bronzo, 1956; Racconti lontani, 1962; La buca di San Colombano, 1964; La nuova stazione di Firenze, 1965; and two plays, Occtaviano and Don Giovanni under one title: Teatro domestico, 1970. One of the main differences rests in the fact that these later works reflect the period of the Solaria experience (1926-1934).^ Bonsanti's style seems to link with the tradition of the nineteenth century novel in the Manzonian manner. He connects to Manzoni because of his polished style and perfection of language. The author finds the meaning of life in the revelatory gestures of the subconscious. He alternates or mixes the introspective methods dear to Proust with a deductive and moralizing vein. In his works, next to cherishing the idyllic evasion, Bonsanti becomes the acute investigator of character and mores. These tasks are achieved by introducing the prominent theme: memory. The psychological investigation seems to be marginal compared with the action of the novels, but in reality it constitutes the main structure.^ Given to the narrative of memory, the life of the character develops and concludes itself in an indefinite gamut of personal considerations, of passional and unbecoming motions, of turbulent feelings, and of impulses and particular solicitations. At times this intimacy is projected in environments dating back to the early nineteenth century, where the countryside becomes an integral part of the action and the feelings of the characters; at later times, starting with La buca di San Colombano the theme of remembrance is truly personified and it becomes the "ragion d'essere" of the author. Bonsanti's observations seem to always have something new to add, giving more fulfillment to the portrait, and further depth to the introspection of the psyche. ^