Italian literature, the body of written works produced in the Italian language, had its beginnings in the 13th century. Until that time nearly all literary work composed in Europe during the Middle Ages was written in Latin.
Moreover, it was predominantly practical in nature and produced by writers trained in ecclesiastical schools.

Here I present you with 10 Famous Italian Writers and their notable works.

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Dante Alighieri

Also known simply as Dante, this late Middle Ages poet was ahead of his time in a number of ways.
Dante proved his mettle in his best-known work, the ambitious Divine Comedy. In contrast to its title, The Divine Comedy is a serious Middle Ages era poem that chronicles Dante's three-stage journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso).
Regarded as one of the most important literary works, Dante's Divine Comedy spans a lot of themes and styles from the dark, distinctive images presented in his version of Hell to the mysticism and theology of Paradise.
It's still read, discussed, and analyzed all around the world nowadays.

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Francesco Petrarca

Petrarca is a multi-tasking poet, humanist, scholar and regarded as one of the most important Italian writers of his time.
His poems include The Trionfi (The Triumphs), and The Canzoniere (The Songbook). A number of Petrarca's works are about the enigmatic Laura – thought to possibly be Laura de Noves, who was the wife of Count Hugues de Sade.
His love poems speak of her grace, beauty and modesty.
As well as his poetry, Petrarca is also recognised for his Latin-written works which cover a wide spectrum of subjects like the contemplation of solitary life (De Vita Solitaria).

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Giovanni Boccaccio

Boccaccio stood out from the pack in that he did his own thing in his writings, opting for a distinctive realistic writing style in his dialogue.
One of his most famous works is The Decameron, which was originally mostly completed by the mid 1300s, and ultimately rewritten and revised by 1371.
The mid-1350s would see a shift in Boccaccio's writing style. Some attribute this to Petrarca's influence. Others put this down to Boccaccio's own personal experiences including his deteriorating strength and health and bad luck in love.

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Niccolò Machiavelli

One of Machiavelli's best-known (and controversial) works is called Il Principe (The Prince). This political-themed book depicts, and even seems to advocate poor behaviour as a means of attaining and keeping hold of power.
The book has received decidedly mixed reviews, and managed to get itself banned by the Catholic Church.

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Ludovico Ariosto

Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto is also regarded as the man who came up with the Humanist concept, which stresses the aim of focusing on humans' own strength as opposed to submitting to a Christian God.
Ariosto is best known for his 1516 epic poem, Orlando Furioso, which depicts the battle between Charlemagne, Orlando, the Franks and the Saracens.

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Alessandro Manzoni

Alessandro Manzoni's most famous (and best regarded) novel is 1827's The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi).
Manzoni deserves a place in the list because of the way in which The Betrothed brought together a unified Italy. Regarded as symbolising the Italian Risorgimento, The Betrothed is big on patriotism and is also a key work with respect to developing the modern, united language of Italy.

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Alberto Moravia

Alberto Moravia's wide repertoire of work is a notable example of Italian fiction in the 20th century. Many of his novels revolve around specific themes such as existentialism, detachment from society, and also sexuality.
His first novel Gli indifferenti is still one of his best-known works. At the time in 1929, Moravia actually published the novel himself out of his own pocket. While the publishing costed Moravia 5000 lira, Gli indifferenti was applauded by critics, reacting warmly to the depiction of a middle class family's lack of morals.

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Primo Levi

Using his experiences as a prisoner in an Auschwitz concentration camp, Primo Michele Levi wrote the highly acclaimed If This Is A Man.

Levi had been arrested at the end of 1943, and began his imprisonment at Auschwitz in the following February, where he remained for just under a year. In 1946, Levi elected to put his thoughts of his ordeal to paper. Intensely working over a 10-month period, he wrote down his experiences, ultimately resulting in a completed manuscript at the end of the year.
While the end product needed further editing and amending, If This Is A Man was ultimately released to great acclaim. A striking element of the book is its calm, measured tone, which is at odds with the horror that Levi endured.

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Italo Calvino

Like Alberto Moravia, Calvino was a journalist as well as an author.
Like Primo Levi, he drew upon his wartime experiences for inspiration – the anthology of stories, Ultimo viene il corvo (The Crow Comes Last), came out four years after the end of the Second World War to the applause of the critics.
But Calvino also possessed a unique style, melding real-world concerns with elements of fantasy and fable. The best example of this is 1952's Cloven Viscount (Il visconte dimezzato), which dealt with Calvino's political disillusionment and the concerns over the Cold War.

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"Take life with levity, because levity isn't superficiality, but gliding in other's things, never having a weight in the heart."
Umberto Eco

As well as a novelist, Eco was a university professor, semiotician and philosopher. His academia and interest in semiotics held him in good stead for one of his most famous works, The Name Of The Rose. This 1980-published murder mystery draws in a lot of semiotics (the study of communication).
Even in the 2010's Eco's novels were still proving massively popular. 2010's Prague Cemetery was a big hit in the book charts, tackling the growing rise of antisemitism in the modern world.

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This article was written by @AcvrossTheUniverse for the Tenth Muse Writers Team
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