Alberto Denti, duke of Pirajno, was born in La Spezia (Tuscany) to a Sicilian naval officer and his British wife. Denti attended university in Florence, where he graduated in medicine and surgery in 1910. Having become a military doctor during World War One, he moved to Africa as a medical officer in charge of Amedeo d'Aosta in 1925. There he opened his first clinic, practicing medicine and studying the Arabic. After a brilliant career as a colonial official in various territories (Tripolitania, Eritrea, Somalia), Denti was the Prefect of Tripoli when he had to hand the city over to the Allied troops and became a prisoner of war (1943-1947).
A polyglot and a gastronome, Denti wrote several books, among which the most successful abroad was undoubtedly Un medico in Africa (Neri Pozza, 1952), translated into ten languages and published in the United States with the title A Cure for Serpents (Sloane, 1955) thanks to the mediation of Giuseppe Prezzolini. The novel Ippolita (Lerici, 1960), acclaimed by Italian critics, was translated in the United States by Doubleday (1961), where critics associated it with the late novel of another Sicilian nobleman: Tomasi di Lampedusa's Leopard.
Writer, literary critic, academic, journalist, publisher
Healey, Robin. Italian Literature since 1900 in English Translation: an Annotated Bibliography, 1929-2016. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2019.
Scaglione, F. Attilio. "Ricordo di Alberto Denti di Pirajno (La Spezia, 7 Marzo 1886 - Roma, 15 Gennaio 1968)." Africa: Rivista Trimestrale Di Studi E Documentazione Dell’Istituto Italiano per L’Africa E L’Oriente 23, no. 1 (1968): 88-93.