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Variant name
Saragat, Giovanni


November 14, 1855 Sanluri

February 27, 1938 Turin

Descriptive Note

Giovanni Saragat obtained a degree in jurisprudence from the University of Cagliari in 1875 and around 1880 he moved to Turin where he was a successful criminal lawyer. He was also a prolific writer, who wrote for the humor magazine Il fischietto (1881-82) and then covered the legal chronicles (cronache guidiziarie) for La Gazzetta piemontese under the pseudonym of Toga-Rasa (1882-1891). The pen name was probably the anagram of his last name (originally Saragattu, then Saragato, and then Saragat). In Roman times, during Augustus' reign, the toga rasa was described as an ordinary summer toga whose rough fibers were teased from the woven nap, then shaved back to a smoother, more comfortable finish. In modern Italian the toga, of course, refers to the lawyer’s robe, and “rasa” may humorously gain the meaning of the additional meaning of ‘worn out” or “threadbare” in line with the light, loquacious, and ironic tone of many of Saragat’s legal vignettes. Giovanni Saragat authored 12 collections of short stories: three are set in Sardinia (Popolo antico; Di la’ dal mare; Storie intime) two are co-written with Guido Rey and deal with mountaineering (Alpinismo a quattro mani; Famiglia alpinistica: Tipi e paesaggi); one tells the story of a soldier in the Sardinian army (In caserma) and the other cover judiciary chronicles often in a humorous tone: Mondo birbone: Tribunali umoristici (1890); La commedia della giustizia nell’ora presente: Ricchi e poveri (1898); Tribunali umoristici (1900); La Giustizia che diverte (1902); and Ironie (1917). These stories were typically praised by contemporary reviewers as demonstrating “arguto umorismo, [. . .] notevole profondità di osservazione e [. . .] vivacità di stile” and Saragat was seen as correcting Edmondo De Amicis’ popular idealized patriotism and sentimentalism with a realistic representation of human types and situations shaded by irony and wit (Gazzetta del popolo della domenica, 25 Marzo 1893). Under the pseudonym of Toga-Rasa, Saragat also wrote vignettes devoted to the 1911 Exposition, such as: Ritrovi preferiti all’Esposizione di Torino.” Le Esposizioni di Roma e Torino 1911. Milano: Treves, 1911. 244-46. The second of Giovanni Saragat’s children, Giuseppe Saragat, became the fifth President of the Italian Republic (1964-71). Giovanni Saragat shared his liberal politics with his children, and Giuseppe became one of the main leaders of the Italian Socialist party.

Writers (Composers), Journalists

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