Leopardi “Everything Is Evil”

In Andrew Chignell (ed.), Evil: A History (Oxford Philosophical Concepts). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 351-357 (2019)
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Giacomo Leopardi, a major Italian poet of the nineteenth century, was also an expert in evil to whom Schopenhauer referred as a “spiritual brother.” Leopardi wrote: “Everything is evil. That is to say, everything that is, is evil; that each thing exists is an evil; each thing exists only for an evil end; existence is an evil.” These and other thoughts are collected in the Zibaldone, a massive collage of heterogeneous writings published posthumously. Leopardi’s pessimism assumes a polished form in his literary writings, such as Dialogue between Nature and an Islander (1824)—an invective against nature and the suffering of creatures within it. In his last lyric, Broom, or the flower of the desert (1836), Leopardi points to the redeeming power of poetry and to human solidarity as placing at least temporary limits on the scope of evil.



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Silvia De Toffoli
University School of Advanced Studies IUSS Pavia

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