“Dear Peppino, Truly friendships either should never be made, or close friendships should never be broken. However, I am quite certain and well persuaded that the fault in this was not yours”. Thus wrote Giacomo Leopardi, sent from Recanati on 29 August 1823, to his cousin, the Marquis Giuseppe Melchiorri in Rome. Now this autograph letter of a private nature has been acquired by the State and delivered to the National Library of Naples.
The Ministry of Culture has exercised the right of first refusal by ensuring the autograph and preventing it from being sold to private individuals. The letter thus further enriches the precious Leopardian fund of the National Library of Naples, which holds the original work of Leopardi and over 90% of the correspondence sent by relatives and friends to the poet himself.
In the letter to his cousin Giuseppe Melchiorri he mentions the break with Pietro Visconti, with whom in 1824 he would have founded the “Roman Memoirs of Antiquities and Fine Arts”, the death of Pope Pius VII and the subsequent conclave. The letter was purchased folded and strapped in the first volume of Leopardi’s Epistolario, published by Le Monnier in Florence in 1883, an edition in which the letter does not appear, as if to fill the gap.
With his cousin, Giacomo Leopardi maintained a correspondence pervaded by accents of affection similar to those reserved for his brother Carlo. The two cousins were in fact almost the same age and thanks to the confidence acquired during the course of acquaintance, during Giacomo’s stays in Rome, opinions and judgments were confided in each other. The desire to share sorrows and anxieties, opinions and judgments, hopes and disappointments emerges from the letter of August 29, 1823 which opens with a reference to the disagreement between Melchiorri and Visconti and a fine comment on the importance of friendship.
Melchiorri was very close to Leopardi in those years and shared his love for philological studies with him. In fact, the letter refers to the “printers” relating to Leopardi’s work “Annotazioni sopra la Cronica d’Eusebio” and reports the discussion between the two cousins on the collection of Latin classics published by Pomba, a Turin publisher, between 1818 and 1835, entitled “Collectio Latinorum scriptorum cum notis”.
“The National Library of Naples – declares the director Maria Iannotti – proud to be the custodian of the legacy of the poet most loved by Italians, has long been committed, supported by the Directorate General for Libraries of the Ministry of Culture, directed by Paola Passarelli, in a constant and patient reconnaissance effort to further integrate even the nucleus of the letters written by Leopardi himself and addressed to men of letters, family and friends, traces of which have often been lost, compromised by the succession of heirs”.
“Leopard’s correspondence proves to be of fundamental importance for a greater understanding of Leopardi’s personality and thought – continues Maria Iannotti – revealing artistic, poetic and personal aspects linked to specific places and historical moments. The handwritten testimonies of the letters allow us to ascertain and confirm facts, already known in the literature and cited in the published copies.We thank the Directorate General for Libraries of the Ministry of Culture, which with its intervention has allowed the acquisition from 2018 to today of as many as 6 Leopardi letters of particular bibliographic and historical interest and this one is no different.”
(by Paolo Martini)