From 1869 to the Twenties, two literary luminaries traversed the blue skies of Naples, Ferdinando Russo (1866-1927) and Salvatore DiGiacomo (1860-1934). The first was a coruscating sun that left no street slab unturned; the second the blandishments of moon light and lover's enchantments. The styles often eclipsed each other providing somber shades of sad beauty. The contrast of the poets was a source of rivalry and literary wrangling, while both integrated the life of Naples with the lives of a fatteful opal. Two literary giants of the Neapolitan dialect and standard Italian-one inherited the grace and lyricism of the natal Greek culture, the other, with wry amusement, the urban realism and social criticism of the city poets of ancient Rome.
Not strictly, of course, both found the fecund dialect a vehicle for their writings, sonnets, poems, sketches, short stories and narrative poetic renditions. If one discusses the pursim of the employed dialects, one is forced to admit that Russo, who loved the underclass of Naples with a passion, there, he found the diction of his work. He was part etymologist in his love, and discovery, and study of the dialect in full glory in Seicento a time when it vied with the Tuscan as the Italian standard for vernacular speech and writing. One might hazard the thought that Russo exemplified the underclass in his realism, its vitality and pluck. It is well known that the Neapolitan underclass was never in favor of Garibaldi, or the Piedmontese despotism, exploitative, and oppressive that followed the Unification of Italy. whereas DiGiacomo was mildly liberal, Russo really hankered for the old Bourbon regime and sovereign status. Southern Italy was invaded by capitalist bourgeois exploiters under the protection of any occupying army of Turin who outraged and ravaged the population of Calabria.