Scapigliatura . Artistic and literary movement developed in northern Italy , which had its epicenter in Milan and then expanded, settling throughout the peninsula, especially in the sixties, seventies and eighties of the nineteenth century . The word, which was imposed in the course of the fifties of the nineteenth century by the use that the writer Cletto Arrighi gave it , is the free translation of the French term bohème (gypsy life), referring to the disorderly and anti-conformist life of the Parisian artists described in Henri Murger’s novel Scènes de “La vie de bohème”, ( 1847 – 1849 ).


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  • 1 History
  • 2 Scapigliatura Movement
  • 3 Terminology
  • 4 Sources


The scapigliatos were animated by a spirit of rebellion against traditional culture and bourgeois good sense. One of the first objectives of their struggle was the moderate and superficial of the Italian official culture , whose main aesthetic was that of the secondo romanticism of Aleardi , Tommaseo and Prati .

They launched themselves against both Italian romanticism, which they deemed languid and frivolous, and the provincialism of the Risorgimento culture . They saw reality differently, seeking to locate the subtle nexus that linked physical to psychic reality. Hence the fascination that the subject of illness exerted on his poetics, often tragically reflecting on his life, which, like that of the French bohémiennes, was generally brief.

Scapigliatura movement

The Scapigliatura, which was never a school or an organized movement with a common poetics precisely expressed in manifestos and theoretical writings, had the merit of giving rise for the first time in Italy the conflict between artist and society , typical of foreign romanticism: the process The post-Unitarian modernization process had brought Italian intellectuals, especially those of a humanistic tendency, to the margins of society and it was in this way that a feeling of rebellion and radical disregard for moral norms spread among the Scapigliatos. the current conventions that resulted in the emergence of the myth of dissipated and irregular life (the so-called malditism ).

Paolo e Francesca (Mosè Bianchi, c. 1877. Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Milan). In the scapigliatos a kind of dualistic consciousness is formed (one of Arrigo Boito’s poetry is precisely entitled Dualism) that underlines the very strong contrast between the “ideal” that one would like to achieve and the “truth”, the harsh reality, described in an objective and anatomical.


The term scapigliatura, which means ‘ debauchery ‘, ‘debauchery’, comes from the title of a novel by Cletto Arrighi (pseudonym of Claudio Righetti ), “The debauchery” and on February 6 ( 1862 ), it narrates the historical fact of the failed Mazzini uprising in Milan in 1853 . In the novel the word designates a group of young anti-conformist patriots and art lovers, “ready for both good and bad.”

Indeed, the Scapigliati writers adopted quite critical positions towards the Italian literature and culture of their time, admiring above all foreign authors such as Baudelaire , Gautier , Heine , Hoffmann , Jean Paul and Poe : a predilection that determined a positive effect of opening and rejuvenation of Italian literary culture.

Authors of different ages, of very diverse social extraction, of often antithetical ideology (from the socialist Paolo Valera to Carlo Dossi, collaborator of Francesco Crispi ), were united by their almost always radical criticism of the Italian literary tradition, and gave voice to the nonconformity and the contradictions that characterized the new unitary state. Their criticism was made both in narrative works and in impressionist poetic texts, with very incisive content and images (skeletons, corpses, mummies).

These are texts impregnated with an ideal tension to which the consciousness of the impossibility of a spiritual stillness and the fatal attraction towards everything that life and bodies have of less ethereal and sublime is contrasted.

His ideas and provocations, which provoked lively polemics and lively discussions, were published in some scapigliate magazines, such as Arrighi’s Cronaca grigia or Dossi’s Palestra letteraria artistica scientifica .


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