Even the Italians seem to feel that the bestowal upon Quasimodo of the 1959 Nobel Prize for Literature was vastly in excess of his artistic attainments. For not only was it disputed that he possessed that Olympian stature implicit in the conferring of this last dignity upon a living author, it was also unclear why he should have been preferred before his two fellow Hermeticists Eugenio Montale and Giuseppe Ungaretti, or a dozen other Italian poets who were felt to be not only more melodious and more profound, but also much more easily understood. One solution to this mystery, which in its way is as peculiar and intractable as many of his poems, might be Quasimodo’s role in the Resistance, which would have cleared him of any taint of fascism, and then his sympathies with the Left, which in poets is always construed as a positive virtue.

Even the Italians seem to feel that...


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