Italian literature, literature dated to Francis of Assissi's Canticle of the Sun (1226), written not in Latin but the vernacular. The love theme was expressed in Dante's The Divine Comedy (1321). Petrarch combined Christian living with classical ethics in Il Canzoniere (The Book of Songs) in the mid 1300s and Boccaccio's masterpiece, The Decameron (1349–1353), depicted characters of his time with humor. Machiavelli's The Prince appeared in 1513. Important works of the late Renaissance include Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists (1550), Benvenuto Cellini's autobiography (1558–62), and the pastoral dramas of Torquato Tasso (1544–95) and Battista Guarini (1536–1612). The baroque period (1600s) gave rise to Marino's Adonis, Galileo's scientific prose and Camparella's The City of the Sun. The Age of Reason (1700s) was characterized by a less elaborate poetic style. Among the most significant works were the opera libretti (texts) by Pietro Metastasio (1698–1782) and plays of Carlo Goldoni (1707–93), which drew heavily on the tradition of improvised comic theater called commedia dell'arte. Romanticism (1 800s) celebrated sentiment over reason. A major figure was the poet, novelist, and playwright Alessandro Manzoni (1785–1873). A major movement in Italian literature and theater of the late 19th century was verismo, in which the harsh realities of the lives of the poor were portrayed. The futurism movement, typified by the writings of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876–1944), employed language glorifying the violence of the machine age. Luigi Pirandello (1876–1936), who won the 1934 Nobel Prize for literature, wrote novels but was best known for such ironic and philosophical plays as Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921).
The post-World War II neorealists include Alberto Moravia (1907–90) and Cesare Parese (1908– ). Recently the novelist Italo Calvino (1923–85) and the playwright Dario Fo (1926– ) have achieved international fame.