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Antonio Ranieri (Naples, 8 September 1806 - Portici, 4 January 1888) was an Italian patriot and writer. He was a senator of the Kingdom of Italy in the XV legislature.
Warned by the Bourbon police for his ideas, he wandered in various foreign countries. He met Giacomo Leopardi in Florence in June 1828, and the two became all but inseparable from September 1830 on; from October 1831 to March 1832 they lived in Rome, where Ranieri had followed the actress Maddalena Pelzet (in any case keeping up his correspondence with Fanny Targioni Tozzetti), and from October 1833 they lived in Naples until Leopardi died. Returning to Naples, with his family, he gave him hospitality in his home, taking care of him, with the help of his sister Paulina Ranieri, then with fraternal devotion until his death. At his own expense he raised a monument to him and published the Leopardi works, together with a biography of the poet, for the publishing house Le Monnier in Florence (1843-1845).
Leopardi himself wrote in his Pensiero IV of Ranieri: Un mio amico, anzi compagno della mia vita, Antonio Ranieri, giovane che, se vive, e se gli uomini non vengono a capo di rendere inutili i doni ch’egli ha dalla natura, presto sarà significato abbastanza dal solo nome ... (A friend, of mine, indeed my lifelong companion, Antonio Ranieri, youth who, if he lives, and if men do not render useless the talents nature has bestowed upon him, will soon become famous by his name alone ... )
Visiting the hospice of the orphans in Naples, in 1839 he then wrote the novel "Ginevra o l'orfanella della Nunziata", in which he revealed the serious abuses perpetrated in that hospice of foundlings, thus provoking the hatred of the police for which he had to serve 45 days in prison (immediately seized, the novel had an enormous illegal circulation). Two years later he also published the "Storia d'Italia dal V al IX secolo ovvero da Teodosio a Carlo Magno", in which he showed the ills of Italy as a consequence of the temporal power of the popes: the book earned him new enmities. In 1842 he decided to publish a philosophical novel, "Il frate Rocco".
With the revolution of 1848, to
which he took part passively, he was nevertheless elected deputy to the
Neapolitan Parliament. In 1861 he was elected as a Member of Parliament of the
Kingdom of Italy and was repeatedly confirmed until 1881. As a deputy he took
care of the southern question and published "Quattro discorsi circa la questione meridionale" (1862). In 1882 he was appointed senator of the Kingdom. He was also
a professor of philosophy of history at the University of Naples.
In 1880 he published the "Sette anni di sodalizio con Giacomo Leopardi", a book that caused quite a few controversies for revelations that, we would say today, violated the privacy of the poet of Recanati. In the book he declared, among other things, that he had kept the Poet at his own expense. Giuseppe Piergili however, in 1892 (in the volume "Nuovi documenti intorno alla vita e agli scritti di Giacomo Leopardi") published the letters but above all the drafts of the Ranieri hand signed by Leopardi, the last of which was 35 scudi (1 scudo was more or less 115 euro today) collected 4 days before death of the poet, who proved the falsity of what Ranieri declared.
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