Giacomo Leopardi (Recanati, 1798-Naples, 1837) is the most genuine representative of the Italian Romanticism, and one of the most outstanding of all of Europe. His work nurtures on the vigorous influence of the classics, but at the same time the literary modernity of his country sprouts from it, producing an aesthetic change, specially in the poems of his Canti (Chants), but at the same time with a revulsive thinking. He precociously began to learn from the Greek-Latin authors –his beloved antichi–, but soon, other readings from his father's rich library, his facility for languages, and his enclosed and complex life in the family palace, produced in him a mixture from where a new literary time would emerge, and precisely in a period when the history of his country is struck by foreign influences, like the French Revolution (also decisive in the life of another poet, Hölderlin), and especially the Napoleonic occupation of Italy.
Thus, beyond the value and results of his huge work in different genres (poetry, theatre, narrative, essay, journals, letters), the rich personality of Leopardi, his late travels, and his friendship with liberals of his time, express a great anxiety for freedom that filled his short life with great finds and with the frustrating and negative paths of his philosophy, with a nihilism that would explode in his essays, dialogues, and thoughts, as well as his life experiences along his last days in Naples.
A literary personality the size of Giacomo Leopardi can only be compared within the Italian Literature with the great masters that influenced him (Dante, Petrarca), as well as with other of his contemporary European poets (Novalis, Hölderlin, Keats, Shelley), who accompanied him in the huge task of bringing a new time to literature by using new words, a new light for knowledge, and through his verses, a more clear and emotional feeling.
José de Espronceda was born on 1808, a key moment for modern Spain and a year around which other highly significant figures of Spanish Romanticism were also born, such as Cecilia Böhl (1796), Trueba y Cossío (1799), Mesonero Romanos (1803), Hatzenbusch (1806), Larra (1809), and Donoso Cortés (1809). Along these years some of the key works defining the profile of European Romanticism were published: Hyperion (1797), the magazine Das Athenäum (1798-1800), Lyrical Ballads (1798), Le Génie du Christianisme (1802), Reden an die deutsche Nation (1807-1808)... The peculiarities of Spanish Romanticism finds on this circumstance one of its most characteristic traits, although not the only one, and it is no other than the chronological delay in regards to the European literatures. Espronceda and Larra, through their prematurity, managed to burn steps and overtake innovative romantic manifestations. The former by compromising almost as a teenager with radical political activity; the later by searching for his literary field at a very young age. Espronceda's exile in London and Paris (1827 –1833) puts him in direct contact with the lively contemporary European culture. Thus, public action and personal passion will be the to paths guiding his future existence until his unexpected death in 1842.
The will for public intervention and sensibility towards the injustices of society are present in many of his prose or verse texts, and the burning pulse of his erotic experiences rewrite the themes and motivations of the new and ancient literary traditions. These harmonics sound insistently in his literary works. But the moving capacity of his lyric expression are not limited to this, because above all, Espronceda is a poet. An intense feeling of the rhythm and euphony, together with a refreshing capacity to die-cut brilliant images, trespass his style in an absolutely modern view of the world which pairs him with the most innovative poets of Romanticism. The unfolding of a lyric ego in the figure of a poet and his audience, and the ironic texture when it comes to organizing the poetic speech, are two suggestive components of a writing that returns to us a lyricist of full current value.