was an Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
writer and journalist, most famous for his books for children. He won the Hans Christian Andersen Award
The Hans Christian Andersen Award, sometimes known as the "Nobel Prize for children's literature", is an international award given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People in recognition of a "lasting contribution to children's literature"...
in 1970 and is considered by many to be Italy's most important twentieth-century children's author. His books have been translated into many languages, though few have been published in English.
Rodari was born in Omegna
Omegna is a comune in the Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in the Italian region Piedmont, located about 100 km northeast of Turin and about 13 km southwest of Verbania at the northernmost point of Lago d’Orta and traversed by the Nigoglia, the lake’s sole outflow.-History:The presence...
, a small town on Lake Orta
Lake Orta is a lake in northern Italy west of Lake Maggiore.It has been so named since the 16th century, but was previously called the Lago di San Giulio, after Saint Julius , the patron saint of the region; Cusio is a merely poetical name...
in the province of Novara
Novara is a province in the Piedmont region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Novara.It has an area of 1,339 km², and a total population of 365.156 . There are 88 communes in the province.-External links:*...
in northern Italy. His father, a baker, died when Rodari was only ten. Rodari and his two brothers, Cesare and Mario, were raised by his mother in her native village, in the province of Varese
The Province of Varese is a province in the Lombardy region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Varese but its largest city is Busto Arsizio....
. After three years at the seminary in Seveso
Seveso is a town and comune in the Province of Monza and Brianza, in the Region of Lombardy. The economy of the town has traditionally been based around the furniture industry....
, Rodari received his teacher's diploma at the age of seventeen and began to teach elementary classes in rural schools of the Varese district. He had interest in music (three years of violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....
lessons) and literature (discovered the works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Lenin and Trotsky which sharpened his critical sense). In 1939, for a short time, Rodari attended the University of Milan
The University of Milan is a higher education institution in Milan, Italy. It is one of the largest universities in Europe, with about 62,801 students, a teaching and research staff of 2,455 and a non-teaching staff of 2,200....
During World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
, Rodari had a deferment from the army due to his ill health. Due to his precarious financial situation, he applied for work at the Casa del Fascio and was forced to join the Fascist Party. Traumatized by the loss of his two best friends and his favorite brother Cesare's incarceration in a German
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...
, Rodari joined the Italian Communist Party
The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.The PCI was founded as Communist Party of Italy on 21 January 1921 in Livorno, by seceding from the Italian Socialist Party . Amadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. Outlawed during the Fascist regime, the party played...
in 1944 and participated in the Italian resistance movement
The Italian resistance is the umbrella term for the various partisan forces formed by pro-Allied Italians during World War II...
In 1948, as a journalist for the Communist periodical L'Unità
l'Unità is an Italian left-wing newspaper, originally founded as official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party.-History:L'Unità was founded by Antonio Gramsci on 12 February 1924, as the newspaper of workers and peasants, the official newspaper of Italian Communist Party : it was printed in...
, he began writing books for children. In 1950, the Party installed him as editor of the new weekly children's magazine Il Pioniere in Rome. In 1951, Rodari published his first books, Il Libro delle Filastrocche and Il Romanzo di Cipollino.
In 1952, he traveled for the first time to the USSR, which he frequented thereafter. In 1953, he married Maria Teresa Feretti, who four years later gave birth to his daughter, Paola. In 1957, Rodari passed the exam to become a professional journalist.
Rodari spent the years 1966-1969 working intensively on collaborative projects with children. In 1970, Rodari was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for children's literature, which gained him a wide international reputation as the best modern children's writer in Italian. His works have been translated into numerous languages.
In 1979, after another trip to the USSR, his health, never very robust, declined and his productivity diminished. He died in Rome, during a surgical operation, in 1980.
He is perhaps best known for developing the story of Cipollino
Cipollino is a fictional character from Gianni Rodari's eponymous Tale of Cipollino , also known under its 1957 renamed title Adventures of Cipollino , a children's tale about political oppression...
. The story of Cipollino was popular enough to have a ballet staged in Russia in 1973, composed by Karen Khachaturian
Karen Surenovich Khachaturian, was a Soviet and Russian composer of Armenian ethnicity and the nephew of composer Aram Khachaturian.Khachaturian was born in Moscow, the son of Suren Khachaturian, a theatrical director...
and choreographed by Genrik Alexandrovich Maiorov. Cipollino, or Little Onion, fights the unjust treatment of his fellow vegetable townfolk by the fruit royalty (Prince Lemon and the overly proud Tomato) in the garden kingdom. The main theme is the "struggle of the underclass and the powerful, good versus evil" and the importance of friendship in the face of difficulties.
- Il libro delle filastrocche (“The Book of Children's Poems”, 1951)
- Il romanzo di Cipollino (“The Adventures of the Little Onion”, 1951)
- La freccia azzurra (“The Blue Arrow”, 1953)
- Gelsomino nel paese dei bugiardi (“Gelsomino in the Country of Liars, 1958)
- Filastrocche in cielo e in terra (“Nursery Rhymes in the Sky and on Earth”, 1960)
- Favole al telefono (“Fairy Tales Over the Phone”, 1962)
- Gip nel televisore (“Gip in the Television”, 1962)
- La torta in cielo (“The Cake in the Sky”, 1966)
- La grammatica della fantasia (“The Grammar of Fantasy”, 1974)
- C'era due volte il barone Lamberto ovvero I misteri dell'isola di San Giulio (Twice Upon a Time there was a Baron called Lamberto or The Mysteries of the Isle of San Giulio
Isola San Giulio or San Giulio Island is an island within Lake Orta in Piedmont, northwestern Italy. The island is 275 metres long , and is 140 metres wide . The most famous building on the island is the marvellous Basilica of Saint Giulio close to which you can see the monumental old Seminary...
, 1978, ISBN 88-06-01578-8)
- Novelle fatte a macchina (“Stories written on a typewriter”)
- Argilli, Marcello, del Cornò, Lucio, and de Luca, Carmine (eds.), Le provocazioni della fantasia. Gianni Rodari scrittore e educatore (1993).
- Bini, G. (ed.), Leggere Rodari (1981).
- Boero, Pino, Una storia, tante storie: guida all'opera di Gianni Rodari (1992).
- Petrini, Enzo, Argilli, Marcello, and Bonardi, Carlo (eds.), Gianni Rodari (1981).
- Rodari, Gianni, The Grammar of Fantasy, trans. with intro. Jack Zipes (1996).