Originally published in 1826, in London, on the “Retrospective Review” with the title On the Antiquarians and Critics of Italian History, the article Antiquarj e Critici di materiali storici in Italia per servire alla storia Europea nel medio Evo is one of the most important writings by Ugo Foscolo in his London period.
The author praises the work of great Italian historians, intellectuals and antiquarians of the Eighteenth Century – Zeno, Maffei, Bianchini, Magliabechi, Muratori – and, as opposed to those who dismissed them as “nojosi”, hails them as true “genii”, albeit “tardissimi e freddi”. The resulting article aims to make a mark on the European debate on “historical art” of those years: the patience, precision and scrupulousness of those antiquarians is considered by Foscolo to be the best medicine against the excessive speculation of modern historiography, on one side, and against the threats on prejudice and factionalism, which deny the possibility of a rigorous reconstruction of the events and their succession, on the other side.
This critical edition presents, for the first time, both the original text and the version appeared on “Retrospective Review” and it also has a rich Introduction explaining the contents of the essay and detailing the circumstances that led Foscolo to write it. This has been done according to an innovative phylological perspective, aimed to highlight the temporariness of Foscolo’s versions of his writings aimed to the translators, as well as to question the criteria adopted to publish his English works until now.
Read the review written from Gabriele Fantini for La Rassegna della Letteratura Italiana (Anno 117, Serie IX).