Gabriele d’Annunzio (1863–1938) was an Italian poet, novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, journalist, and patriot. One of the last major representatives of fin-de-siècle decadence in European literature, he is considered one of the foremost Italian literary figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Born in Pescara, in the province of Abruzzo, d’Annunzio began as a reporter for the Tribuna in Rome, and then made his name as a poet in 1879 with the publication of Primo vere (‘In Early Spring.’) During the 1890s, he wrote Romances of the Rose, a trilogy of novels with Friedrich Nietzsche on heroes—Il Piacere (1889, ‘The Child of Pleasure,’) L’Innocente (1892, ‘The Intruder’) and Il Trionfo della morte (1894, ‘The Triumph of Death.’)
A fervent patriot, d’Annunzio advocated Italian entry into World War I and served as a soldier, sailor, and aviator. In 1916, he lost an eye in aerial combat, and in 1918, carried out an astonishing reconnaissance over Vienna. In 1919, he seized and held Fiume in Yugoslavia, and ruled as dictator until the Italian government removed him in 1920.
D’Annunzio’s pursuit for heroic transcendence, and frequent underlying sadism, signify the political ambiance that gave rise to Fascism. He became a strong supporter of the Fascist Party under Benito Mussolini.
D’Annunzio was elected a parliamentary deputy in 1897, and became infamous for his passionate affair with the actress Eleonora Duse, for whom he wrote several plays, including the tragedies La Gioconda (1899) and Francesca da Rimini (1901.) His greatest play is considered to be La figlia di Jorio (1904, ‘The Daughter of Jorio.’)