The Literature of Italian Switzerland
While Italian culture has thus directly inserted itself, as a constitutive element, into the spiritual life of Switzerland, literature in Italian has instead, for a long time, limited development. In the canton of Grisons linked to Italy by ties of race and language affinity, the religious split, first, and then the growing pressure of German culture prevented an Italian literature from arising: the instinct of conservation of the populations became defensively rigid in the pride of their language; and each of the Ladin regions of the Canton had its own literature in the local language: a first historical poem by G. Travers and the various dramatic attempts of the century. An essentially religious and didactic literature succeeded in the Engadine, until the the romantic era marked a vigorous revival with E. de Flugi, which continued, with lyrics, short stories, dramas, comedies, for the whole century, until today (P. Juvalta, Z. Pallioppi, G. Mathis, C. Bardola, G. Barblan, P. Lansel, etc., and especially G. Fadri Caderas); and literature also had a similar fate in the Upper Grisons, where the first literary compositions date back to the century with China Gabriel and Zaccaria da Salò. XVII and, only after the Romanticism (T. di Castelberg, PA Latour, etc.), a notable fervor of operas began in poetry (G. Caduff, A. Tuor, PM Carnot, A. Balletta, F. Camathias, etc.), which culminated in the lyrics of A Huonders and in the ballads and verse tales of GC Muoth. Following the foundation of the Reto-Romontscha Society in 1885 – under the impulse of new linguistic and philological studies (see G. Ascoli, Ladin essays, 1873; C. Decurtins, Rätoromanische Chrestomathie, I, 1888, etc.) – a movement towards the unification of the literary language was determined with JA Bühler and others; but it remained an artificial movement, which did not find a hold in the conscience of the people.
On the other hand, the spiritual adherence to Italian origins remained constant among the population of the Canton of Ticino. But it is enough to read the reports by Johannes von Müller and RV von Bonstetten on the state of abandonment in which the population – despite the good “Landvogt” Wirtz to whom Parini dedicated the ode The need – was still at the end of the century. XVIII, to realize how in such conditions no “beautiful literature” could flourish; to the large handful of artists: painters, sculptors, architects, who spontaneously expressed themselves by the natural forces of craftsmanship and of which F. Chiesa recently gave an interesting review (The work of our artists out of Ticino, 1928) literature has almost nothing to oppose until the beginning of the century. XIX. The first personalities of some importance are F. Soave, a well-known translator of Gessner and moralist narrator, who died at the beginning of the century, and L. Lavizzari, author of the Excursions in the Canton of Ticino. The first vigorous awakening of cultural life took place, within the general awakening of civil and political life, after the Canton of Ticino had achieved its constitutional reform in 1830. With Stefano Franscini the Canton of Ticino then began to become, politically and spiritually, one of the active and conscious forces within the life of the confederation: that fusion of politics and culture was created, whose traditions were later to merge into the complex personality of Giuseppe Motta: the awareness of its historical function was formed among the people and, as historical studies drew from it, from the Italian Switzerland of Franscini himself to the History of the Canton of Ticino from 1803 to 1830by A. Bolaffio and to the History of the Canton of Ticino from 1779 to 1802 by P. Peri, thus also the literary interests reawakened. And the various events of Italian literature, from the second Romanticism onwards, also had an echo in the Canton of Ticino. Already around the turn of the century a first group of writers had formed who found various resonance also in Italy (among the poets: G. Anastasi, G. Bernasconi, GB Buzzi, E. Pometta, G. Somazzi, etc.; and among the scholars: G. Pizzo, A. Pioda, R. Manzoni, etc.); and a new group of writers – poets and critics – also offers the new generation (G. Zoppi, A. Janner, R. Roedel, G. Daini, etc.): for more than thirty years now he has been at the center of the rebirth movement Francesco Chiesa, noble interpreter of the soul of his people, master of Italianness and poetry.