But he has his moments. Thus he finds:
Not only individual men, but the whole human race was and always will be necessarily unhappy. Not only the human race but the whole animal world. Not only animals but all other beings in their way. Not only individuals, but species, genera, realms, spheres, systems, worlds."I am sad to say that this book contributes to my unhappiness — not because of pronouncements like this, but because they are rare pearls of wisdom (or whatever they may be). You have to go through a lot of dross like this: "Can odoratus, which means sweet-smelling and is an adjective in usage, be anything but a participle in origin?" (976).
In short, I do not recommend the book any longer. A longish selection would have been much better. The Introduction is not very helpful either. So we are told that Joseph Anton Vogel, "one of Leopardi's teachers ... embodied the tradition of the ars excerpendi, that is the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century techniques of filing and rationally organizing knowledge in catalogues and indexes" influenced Leopardi, but we are not told how precisely. Instead, we hear that the Zibaldone as "a work of absolute writerliness" (xvii), of "the limitless materials of the Zibaldone" (xxi), and of "horizontal tensions, between contiguous thoughts" (xix).
1. This is quoted in a recent review of the book published here. The review is not without hype either, claiming the Zibaldone is "inexhaustible and worthy of endless meditation." This echos the Introduction which also finds it to be "endless," "limitless," absolute," "infinite," etc., etc. Less would have been more—at least more serious!
The sentiment itself reminds of the Buddhist conception of "dukkha" or the idea that all existence is necessarily unsatisfactory.