Eugenio Montale, 84, the Italian poet, translator and journalist who won the 1975 Nobel Prize for Literature, died of a heart ailment in a Milan hospital Saturday.
The Nobel committee had said, in presenting him with its award, that he interpreted human values without illusions, and called him one of the most important poets in the Western world.
Upon learning of his death, Italian President Sandro Pertini said that Mr. Montale was "the greatest voice of Italian poetry in our century, and one of the most eminent personalities of European and world culture."
Mr. Montale was a white-haired recluse who, when told he had won the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature, locked himself in his house and disconnected the telephone. Later, asked what the effect the prize had had on him, he said that it had made his life, "which was alwaysunhappy, less unhappy."
Mr. Montale's work was honored worldwide, but little was known about the man himself. He confessed to the few visitors he allowed into his Milanese home that he wasunable to talk about himself.
"I can't understand that someone can be interested in who I am or what I do. I can only think someone can find my lines interesting. My works are an inducement to hope," he said in one of this rare interviews.
Mr. Montale, who translated the works of Blake, Shakespeare and Melville into Italian, was born in the northern port city of Genoa. His childhood love of the sea later surfaced in his moving poems describing the Ligurian seascape.
At the age of 14 Mr. Montale was afflicted with poor health. Confined indoors, he read avidly the classics in Latin, Greeek and Italian, as well as English poetry and philosophy.
His first poems, published in 1917, included images of World War I, in which he had served. In 1922, in collaboration with other Italianpoets, he began a small poetrymagazine, "Primo Tempo."
When the magazine folded, Mr. Montale started contributing poetry, articles and reviews to various Italian and French newspapers. In 1925 the publication of his first book of verse, "Cuttlefish Bones," won him worldwide acclaim and established him as a modern Italian poet.
In 1927 Mr. Montale moved to Florence and worked as a curator of the Gabinetto Vieusseux, the city's celebrated scientific and literarylibrary. He lost the post in 1938 when he refused to join the Fascist Party.
After World War II, Mr. Montale traveled worldwide and contributed essays to Italian newspapers. In 1948 he began a collaboration with Corriere Della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper, that continued for the rest of his life. At the time of his death he was the paper's literary and music critic.
Italy's president nominated him in 1967 for lifetime membership in the Italian Senate in Rome. Mr. Montale also received honorary degrees from the universities of Rome, Milan and Cambridge.
His wife, Drusilla, died in 1963.