The theme of suicide was of paramount importance in Italy in the long nineteenth century, from the French revolution to the outbreak of World War I. A number of writers, intellectuals, politicians, and artists wrote about suicide, and a very high number of people killed themselves, for several reasons. There were suicides for love and for homeland, suicides for despair, and suicides for ennui. In Italy, once a very traditional, Catholic country, where suicide was very uncommon and rarely treated as a subject of moral theology or literature, it suddenly became extremely widespread. This book provides the first interdisciplinary account of this phenomenon, taken from several angles, including literature, the arts, politics, society, and philosophy, as well as sociology. Its authors rank among the best international specialists on suicide, and the figures dealt with include major intellectuals and writers such as Ugo Foscolo, Emilio Salgari, Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Giacomo Leopardi and Carlo Michelstaedter.
Paolo L. Bernardini (1963) teaches Early Modern and Modern European History at the University of Insubria, Como, Italy.Anita Virga (1983) teaches Italian Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.