Renown for his fascinating biography, Gabriele d’Annunzio (12th March 1863 – 1st March 1938) proved to be a remarkable figure not only by his wonderful writings which undoubtedly reached the refined expressiveness of an Oscar Wilde and the epic force of an Ernst Jünger, but also by his political-military extravagance. Rising from the cultural milieu of fin-de-siecle Italy, d’Annunzio can be placed among the iconic representatives of a (proto)modernism with decadent-aestheticist touches which shocked the public opinion of his age more than once.
Politically speaking, after the end of the Great War, where he courageously (and sometimes almost suicidally) fought as a protagonist in acts like La beffa di Buccari or theFlight over Vienna, his nationalist beliefs grew stronger after seeing the results of the Paris Peace Conference. Thus, he rallied two thousand fellow political activists in 1919 and sieged the port ofFiume (nowadays called Rijeka, Croatia), determining the ruling inter-Allied forces of the United States, France and the United Kingdom to leave the city. After his failed attempt to reunite Fiume with the Italian fatherland, d’Annunzio declared the port an autonomous state based of on the ancient model of the Greek polis. His ephemeral dictatorship lasted until 1920 when the Italian Navy forced him to hand over the command after a sustained bombardment.
The year 1924 witnessed d’Annunzio being ennobled asPrincipe di Montenevoso by the king and held in high esteem by Il Duce. His political views helped in intellectually shaping Italian nationalism both in the inter-war period and in nowadays peninsula. At his death, in 1938, the entire Italian people mourned him and national ceremonies were organized as he was buried in a marble sanctuary.
If his political life was characterized by such restlessness, the same thing can be told of his artistic creation. Looked upon as the great hope of European literature before the War, d’Annunzio proved to be a talented poet and novelist, whose writings centered around great themes such as the Eros or the individual in struggle with his own limitations on the path to the Absolute. A declared dandy, d’Annunzio provoked public discontent more than once with his scandalous life, which forced him to flee in a self-imposed exile to France in order to escape paying his infuriated creditors in 1910.