Skip to content
Università degli Studi di Padova

PHAIDRA – Digital collections

Fanfulla della Domenica

The Fanfulla della Domenica, Sunday supplement of the newspape Fanfulla (Florence, 17 June 1870), was founded by Ferdinando Martini in 1879 in Rome. At a time when providing a newspaper with the Sunday literary supplement was very fashionable among journalistic and literary publications, they are both remembered "for giving a new character to Italian informative and cultural journalism"; above all, the Fanfulla della Domenica "marked a sort of new course in the Italian press, which, until then, was relegated almost exclusively to political controversy".

The owner of the newspaper Fanfulla, he Commendator Oblieght (Ernesto Emanuele, Budapest, 1838 - Rome, 1900), was a speculator and an unscrupulous person who well represented the new entrepreneurial class in post-unification Italy: he had Jewish-Hungarian origins, arrived in Italy as a young man and, after starting his career in advertising, quickly acquired 6 newspapers published between Milan and Rome.

Ferdinando Martini (Florence, 1841 - Monsummano Terme (PT), 1928), former member of the Parliament since 1876 and with experience as a playwright, trained as a journalist just by writing on Fanfulla. Oblieght, therefore, proposed to him to found and direct the Sunday supplement that was founded on July 27, 1879 with a strong and well-characterised style from the very first issue.

Here is an excerpt from Martini's editorial, entitled Patti chiari, amici cari that clearly describes his perspective: «Libertà piena: ma badiamo, che l’arte rimanga arte; e che la libertà non sia una scusa per far a meno del gusto, della logica, della sintassi, del senso comune. Anche una sciocchezza non mai detta è una novità; ma noi non siamo disposti, sol perché è nuova, a farle buon viso.»

The main objective of the newspaper Fanfulla was to "ensure its readers «variety and delight»” by avoiding the politics and parliamentary issues that filled most of the other publications. Its founders did not represent political parties and could guarantee a solid journalistic and intellectual competence, which was lacking in most Italian periodicals of the time.

Second centennial of Gasparo Gozzi
Second centennial of Gasparo Gozzi. Source: Phaidra, Collezione Fanfulla della Domenica, anno 1913-35, numero 49, p. 1
As for the supplement, Martini was also convinced that the FdD, "if it could not stop the spread of the «lyrical and narrative turpitudes» that submerged Italy, at least it had to condemn the complacency of certain frivolous or depraved criticism and certain newspapers, serving the public rather than the penmen" and it should have stood out from the numerous cultural magazines that used to deal with the most diverse topics "from female culture, to the elevation of the masses, from vicious Catholic proselytism to silkworm cultivation."

The energy, the brio, the patti chiari of its founder, however, began to suffer the first difficulties since 1882, when Oblieght decided to sell his 6 newspapers, the FdD included, to a French clerical financial company: this meant that Martini had to resign because the sale to such an owner seemed scandalous.

After him, only Luigi Capuana was able to guarantee the Fanfulla della Domenica the energy of its first days. Thanks to his journalistic experience as a theatre reporter, initially at La Nazione in Florence and then for the Corriere della Sera, Capuana was able to enrich the FdD with original and always new ideas but his contribution was brief: the author quitted for health problems in August 1883, after only 16 months.

Editorial about Martini’s leave
Editorial about Martini’s leave. Source: Phaidra, Collezione Fanfulla della Domenica, anno 1882-4 n. 6, p. 1

The productivity of the FdD continued to decline very rapidly and critics pointed out as early as 1885 that the weekly edition had lost its characteristics of vivacity to develop more and more an academic and refined quality. The FdD lacked "the essential requisite for a means of communication [...]: the acute and critical perception of time, the ability to know how to offer today what will be talked about tomorrow and after tomorrow, by stimulating awareness, generating disagreement and opinion exchanges."

The FdD remained active for 40 years but as a frivolous publication, in whose pages the authors moved towards increasingly culturally erudite topics, neglecting and moving away from contemporary culture and society. Gradually more traditionalist, unable to harm Italian politics and the cultural debate, the Fanfulla della Domenica was published until 1919, and its last issue came out on October 31.

During its 40 years of life, the FdD received the contributions of authors such as Giovanni Verga, Giosuè Carducci, Edmondo De Amicis, Arturo Graf, Gabriele D'Annunzio, citing only the most famous among them, and there were also numerous female writers, including Grazia Deledda, Marchesa Colombi, Emma Perodi, Contessa Lara, Matilde Serao.

Giosuè Carducci
Giosuè Carducci. Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-4.0
Gabriele D’Annunzio
Gabriele D’Annunzio. Source: Polona, Public Domain

The Fanfulla della Domenica dealt with literary criticism, presenting to the Italian public both texts by contemporary Italian authors, insights on ancient texts and translations, insights and criticism about foreign authors, even from beyond Europe.
Carducci was invited to publish by Ferdinando Martini, who had met him at a young age, and contributed to the supplement with both poetry and prose for a couple of years.

D'Annunzio, on the other hand, was introduced for the first time as a new young poet in the pages of the FdD in May 1880 by Giuseppe Chiarini, a fraternal friend of Carducci and Enrico Nencioni, one of the following directors of the same supplement. D'Annunzio published poems and short stories on the FdD and, in 1882, he appeared as a literary critic, publishing texts and his first literary analysis of his own work as well.

Table of content with Emma Perodi’s article
Table of content with Emma Perodi’s article. Source: Phaidra, Collezione Fanfulla della Domenica, anno 1883-5 n. 33, p. 1
At the beginning the female contribution to the supplement was limited to short stories but over the years it gradually developed to include contributions of literary criticism, history and traditions. Female authors did not only write about love and relationships: Emma Perodi, for example, in addition to short stories, dealt with historical biographies, past and recent, such as those of Michelet and George Sand.

In the present collection, annual numbers and issues have been digitized to supplement those already available online on the Digiteca website in Rome.

The digitization of the year 1891 is necessary to complete the digitization of the work but it is missing. In that year, the FdD was integrated into the newspaper Fanfulla, reduced to 2 pages and available inside the Sunday issue.

[Citations from Fanfulla della domenica, edited by Antonia Arslan and Mariagrazia Raffele (Treviso, Canova, 1981).]

Browse Collection »
All collections »