Sights & Activities
Localities • Places
Good Travel Faqs
Sicily's Top 12
Hotels • Planning
Maps of Sicily
Weather • Climate
Nature • History • People
Food • Wine • Dining
Arts • Literature • Culture
Contact • Follow
See Sicily with a
great Sicily tour!
Personal Travel in Sicily
It comes as
no surprise that Sicilian literature is a reflection of Sicily's cultural identity over
the centuries. Most historians and linguists agree that it was born in the
twelfth century at the Norman and Swabian courts with the Sicilian language.
Until then, most Sicilians spoke Byzantine Greek or Siculo-Arabic (or both), or perhaps
Norman-French. The Normans and the Church of Rome brought to the island a Latin influence that had all
but vanished with the fall of the Empire in the fifth century. Dante
recognized the importance of the Sicilian School of poetry.
• Sicilian - The modern Sicilian language may not be as poetic as its medieval precursor, but it's worth taking note of because it features in Sicilian literature.
• Ciullo d'Alcamo - One of the founders of the Sicilian School of Poetry. Had Sicily retained its prominence after the reign of Frederick II, Sicilian (rather than Tuscan) might be the national language today.
• Giovanni Verga - His plays have become a cornerstone of Italian culture. Some, like Cavalleria Rusticana, have been adapted as operas. Mastro Don Gesualdo is a classic.
• Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa - The novel published after his death has sold well over a million copies around the world and is still in print a half-century after its first printing, being something of a classic. Sicly's bestselling novel of all time, The Leopard actually prompted Italians to question their shared (often controversial) history since the Risorgimento and unification, which in turn led many to consider the lessons of Fascism and war - both of which the author strongly opposed. In that respect, Tomasi di Lampedusa has been the most influential Sicilian author in recent decades, even though the corpus of his completed fictional work only includes a novel and two short stories. Just a handful of Italian novels have ever sold more copies, and the first to do so was published two decades later (Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose in 1980).
• Leonardo Sciascia - Noted for its gritty, realistic depictions of Sicily's virtues and vices, Sciascia's work has withstood the test of time remarkably well. He was one of the first Siciliani authors to tackle the subject of the Mafia, not as a study in itself but as a factor in some plot lines.
• Salvatore Quasimodo - He was Sicily's (and perhaps Italy's) best known poet of the twentieth century and, like most of the other authors listed here, something of a social commentator.
• Luigi Pirandello - With their focus on psychology and characterization, his plays of the early twentieth century represent an important stage in the development of Italian drama. Pirandello also wrote seven novels. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature but, most unfortunately, joined the Fascist party.
• Andrea Camilleri - His crime novels and (in Italy) the telefilms based on them have been wildly popular in Italy. The Inspector Montalbano stories are set in Sicily.
• Melissa Panarello - Erotic fiction with a teenage girl as its first-person protagonist may not be everyone's cup of tea, but Ms Panarello's first book sold around 800,000 copies in several languages, including English, spawning an Italian film. After The Leopard (see above), One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed is Sicily's all-time bestseller, and with the exception of Lady Chatterley's Lover no erotic novel published in Italy - and none in Italian - has enjoyed its success.
• Giuseppe Pitré - He did not write much actual literature but penned a certain amount of commentary on Sicilian folk culture and brought some folk tales to print. The merit of his work is to some degree doubted by serious scholars today because (among other things) he praised the Mafia.
• Shakespeare in Sicily? - Influences on The Winter's Tale. Did Shakespeare ever visit Sicily? Was the "Shakespeare" we know even Shakespeare?
• D.H. Lawrence in Sicily - And you thought Lady Chatterley's Lover was English?
• Goethe in Sicily - In his hands, travel writing became a high literary art.
Top of Page