DE GUBERNATIS, Angelo. Turin 7.4.1840 — Rome 26.12.1913. Count. Italian Indologist. Professor in Florence and Rome. Born in a noble family, son of Giambattista De G., a revenue official, and Maria Cleofe Turchetti; his brother was the diplomat and geographer Enrico De G. (1836–1914), his sister the educator Teresia De G. (Mannucci, 1832–1893). School and studies at Turin (under Flechia), graduated as Ph.D. in 1861, then further studies 1862-63 under Bopp and Weber at Berlin. In 1863-90 Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Linguistics at Istituto dei Studi Superiori in Florence. In 1865 dismissed on political grounds, but restored in 1867. Travelled much: in 1869 and 1876 in Russia, several times in France, in 1878 in England, in 1885 at Balkans, and 1896 in Argentina (sent by Italian government). From August 1885 he travelled eight months in India. From 1890 Professor of Sanskrit (succeeding Lignana) and Italian Literature at Rome. Retired in 1908. In 1881 he was conferred by the Italian king a hereditary title of count (formerly belonging to his ancestors). In 1865 married Sophie de Bésobrásoff, the daughter of a Russian notable and cousin of Mihail Bakunin, one daughter and one son.

De Gubernatis was a polyhistor and polygraph, who wrote much and interestingly, but had rarely time for a thorough research work. During his early days he was a radical politician, later liberal. As a scholar he mostly concentrated on comparative mythology, which he dealt “mit grosser Sachkenntnis, poetischem Sinn, aber auch sehr lebhaften Phantasie” (Windisch). He schematically interpreted fairy tales as myths and was unmethodical in his linguistics comparisons. Indian epics, too, were explained as myths. During his long travels in India he became thoroughly acquainted with Indian religions, cults and antiquities. His long travel account shows him as a scrupulous, even pedantic observer, but also as an Orientalist in the Saidian sense, who compares the present decadence to ancient flourish, despises the Muslims and the Non-Aryan Dravidians, and eagerly searches markets for Italian exports and considers the possibilities of extending Italian colonialism to India. In India he also collected manuscripts, which he then donated to the National Library in Florence.

De Gubernatis’s merits in literary history fall outside the present scope. He was also known as a poet who used Indian themes in dramatic works. He was a skilled organizator who founded the Museo Indiano in Florence and the Società Asiatica Italiana (both in 1886). Twice he organized the International Conference of Orientalists, in Florence in 1878 and in Rome in 1899. His contribution to the study of history of Indology is still useful.

Publications: Studi Vedici. I primi venti inni del Rigveda, ripubblicati e per la prima volta dall’Indiano tradotti in Italiano. 88 p. Florence 1864; La vita ed i Miracoli del Dio Indra nel Rigveda. 50 p. Florence 1867.

Piccola Enciclopedia Indiana. 641 p. Turin 1867.

– “Frammenti dell’ Epopea vedica”, RO 1, 1867-68, 259-299; “Fonti vediche dell’ epopea”, RO 1, 1867-68, 401-432, 478-510; “L’epopea Bráhmanica”, RO 1, 1867-68, 1218-1250, 1354-1403.

– “La morale dell’Tiruvallular”, RO 1, 1867-68, 1173-1192, 1285-1332, 1450-1471.

Memoria sui viaggiatori italiani nelle Indie Orientali dal secolo XIII fino a tutto il XVI. 171p. Florence 1867; “Cenni sopra alcuni Indianisti viventi” Rev. Europ. 3, 1872, 44-59, 265-273, 448-463; Storia dei viaggiatori italiani nelle Indie Orientali. 400 p. Livorno 1875; Matériaux pour servir à l’Histoire des Études Orientales en Italie. 446 p. Turin 1876; Gli scritti di Marco della Tomba. 305 p. Florence 1878; “Gli studi indiani in Italia”, GSAI 5, 1891, 102-126; Roma e l’Oriente. 40 p. Rome 1892.

Storia comparata degli usi nuziali in Italia. 222 p. Milano 1868, 2nd rev. ed. Storia degli usi nuziali in Italia e presso gli altri popoli indoeuropei. 280 p. Milano 1878; Storia comparata degli usi funebri in Italia. Milano 1873, 2nd ed. Storia degli usi funebri in Italia e presso gli altri popoli indoeuropei. 138 p. Milano 1878; Storia degli usi natalizi in Italia e presso gli altri popoli indoeuropei. 223 p. Milano 1868.

Zoological Mythology, or, The Legends of Animals. 874 p. L. 1873, German transl. by R. Hartmann: Die Thiere in der idg. Mythologie. Lp. 1874, French transl. by P. Regnaud. P. 1874.

Letture sopra la Mitologia Vedica. 365 p. Florence 1874.

Max Müller e la mitologia comparata. 16 p. Florence 1875; Mitologia comparata. 149 p. Milano 1880, 2nd ed. 1887.

La Mythologie des Plantes ou les Légendes du Règne végétal. 1-2. P. 1878-82.

Letture di Archeologia Indiana. 81 p. Milano 1881; Letteratura indiana. 159 p. Milano 1883; in Storia universale della letteratura  Milano 1884-85: I. Teatro indiano. 110 p. “Florilegio”, II, 11-108; “Lirica popolare e poeti indiani”, III, 11-60, “Flor.”, IV, 7-34; “Epopea indiana”, V, 7-94; “Flor.”, VI, 7-82; etc.

Peregrinazioni Indiane. I. Viaggio nell’ India Centrale. 379 p. Florence 1886; II. Viaggio nell’ India Meridionale e Seilan. 270 p. Florence 1887; III. Viaggio nel Bengala, Pengiab e Cashmir. 349 p. Florence 1887.

– “Brahman et Sâvitrî, ou l’origine de la prière”, Actes du 11e Congrès des orientalistes, Paris 1897. 1. 1899, 9-44.

– “Le Bouddhisme en Occident avant et après le christianisme”, RSO 2, 1909, 167–230.

A number of articles and reviews in RE, GSAI, etc.

A collection of Tuscan fairy tales (18??), a book on Hungary (1885), on France (1891), on Serbia (1897) and on Bulgaria and Romania (1899).

Edited: Dizionario biografico degli scrittori contemporanei. Florence 1879-80; Dictionnaire international des écrivains du jour. 1-3. Florence 1891; Dictionnaire International des Écrivains du Monde Latin. Rome & Florence 1905.

Storia universale della letteratura. 1-18. Milano 1882-85.

Plays on Indian themes: Il re Nala. 1870 and German transl.; La morte del re Dasaratha. 1872; Māyā. 1873 and Polish transl.; Sāvitrī. 1877 with French and English transl., staged in Gujarati in Bombay; Drammi indiani. Florence 1872, 1883, 1889, 1907; Buddha. 1902; plays on other themes, poetry, biographies.

Editor of numerous journals.

Sources: His own account in Dict. Intern. des Écr. du jour 1, 1891, 787f.; A. Bal[lini], Enciclop. Italiana 12, 1931, 501; Buckland, Dictionary; *G. Ciardi-Dupré, GSAI 25, 1912, 351f.; *C. Della Casa, “A. de G., la Regina Margherita e lo studio del sanscrito”, Rendic. Ist. Lombardo 100, 1966, 333-351; Alessandro Grossato, “L’interpretazione ‘naturista’ dei miti e simboli negli scritti indologici di Angelo De Gubernatis”, La conoscenza dell’Asia 2, 1985, 417-434; A. Maiello, “An aspect of A. De G.’ ‘Peregrinazione indiane’”, La conoscenza dell’ Asia 3, 1989, 707-726; D. Pirro in ( the family details); F. Scialpi, Newsl. Int. Assoc. Skr. St. 6, 1999, 37f. (repr. from Cimino & Scialpi, India and Italy. 1974, 148-150); *L. Strappini in; M. Taddei (ed.), Angelo De Gubernatis. Europa e Oriente nell’Italia umbertina. 1-4. Collana “Matteo Ripa” 10, 13, 15, 17. Napoli 1995-2001 with numerous contributions and photo; Windisch 442ff.; *RSO 6, 1914-15, 1-3; Wikipedia with photo.

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