The New Avant-Garde in Italy

The New Avant-Garde in Italy: Theoretical Debate and Poetic Practices

JOHN PICCHIONE
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 310
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442681835
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    The New Avant-Garde in Italy
    Book Description:

    The debate on literature and the arts provoked by the Italian neoavant-garde (neoavanguardia) is undoubtedly one of the most animated and controversial the country has witnessed from World War II to the present. Comprising the period between the late 1950s and the late 1960s, the phenomenon of theneoavanguardiainvolved key writers, critics, and artists, both as insiders - Sanguineti, Balestrini, Guglielmi, Eco, and others - and adversaries such as Pasolini, Calvino, and Moravia.

    InThe New Avant-Garde in Italy- the first book in English to document the movement - John Picchione's objective is twofold: to provide a comprehensive analysis of the theoretical tenets that inform the works of theneoavanguardiaand to show how they are applied to the poetic practices of its authors. Theneoavanguardiacannot, Picchione argues, be defined as a movement with a unified program expressed in the form of manifestos or shared theoretical principles. It experiences irreconcilable internal conflicts that are explored as a split between two main blocs - one that is tied to the project of modernity, the other to post-modern aesthetic postures. This study suggests that some of the contentious views proposed by theneoavanguardiaanticipated a wide range of issues that continue to be significant and pressing to this day.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8183-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 Poetry in Revolt: The Novissimi
    (pp. 3-31)

    In the years following the Second World War, echoes of the Hermetic movement were still reverberating as stylistic traits of a great number of Italian poets. Yet, at the same time, there was evidence of an emerging new trend, which was characterized by a shift towards a representational mode of writing motivated by historical and social issues. The Hermetic position (extremely influential and dominant from the 1930s to the early 1940s), centred around the conception of poetic language as pure and spiritual intuition, made up of sudden illuminations and revelations of truth, was being replaced by a poetic word preoccupied...

  6. 2 The Neoavanguardia and the Theoretical Debate
    (pp. 32-80)

    The publication ofI Novissimi, combined with the aesthetic and cultural innovations promoted byII Verri, prompted a series of reactions within Italian intellectual circles. Of particular note were the views of one of the most influential journals of the time,II Menabò, edited by Elio Vittorini and Italo Calvino.

    During these years,II Verriperiodically published special issues on topics such as thenouveau roman, ʹinformalʹ art (from Action Painting totachismeandart brut), phenomenology, and new poetic experimentation in Europe and North America,¹ and the group of regular contributors gradually expanded to include not only the five...

  7. 3 The Gestural and Schizoid Language of Alfredo Giuliani
    (pp. 81-95)

    The most striking feature of Alfredo Giulianiʼs poetry is the search for a language rid of sentimental and autobiographical tones.¹ Giuliani strives to challenge a whole tradition that for centuries has identified the primary source of poetic communication with the inner activities of the ʻI.ʼ To put it synthetically, his goal to dislodge the centrality of the ʻIʼ coincides with his urgent quest for a radically anticonventional poetic language. This project began during the years of Giulianiʼs involvement withII Verriand came to maturity with his edition ofI Novissimi. It is important to underline, however, that Giuliani revealed...

  8. 4 Collage, Multilingualism, and Ideology: Elio Pagliaraniʹs Epic Narratives
    (pp. 96-113)

    From his first publication,Cronache e altre poesie(Chronicles and Other Poems [Milan: Schwarz, 1954]), Elio Pagliarani displayed an urgent desire to move away from the lyric genre to pursue a narrative form of poetry steeped in social realities.¹ This attraction towards narrative verse can be explained by two key factors: Pagliarani realized that the lyric tradition, with its inner diaries and transcendental yearnings (as epitomized by Hermeticism), had reached a state of linguistic and thematic exhaustion; and the post-war social and linguistic realities offered poetry opportunities for innovation. Undoubtedly, behind this poetic orientation there lies an ideological outlook that...

  9. 5 Edoardo Sanguineti and the Labyrinth of Poetry
    (pp. 114-128)

    A rather precocious writer with an intellectual background in European art and aesthetics, Edoardo Sanguineti made a vital contribution to the innovations and the deprovincialization of Italian literature. Indeed, his poetry in particular represents a decisive turning-point for post-war Italian letters.¹

    The formal revolt and linguistic disorder pursued by the new avant-garde manifests itself in Sanguinetiʹs poetry as an alienated language with semantic incongruities arranged through a shattered and lacerated syntax. This language is not to be interpreted simply as a transcription of a personal nervous breakdown, but as an objective representation of a historical and social alienation (the pathological...

  10. 6 The Poetic Nomadism of Antonio Porta
    (pp. 129-147)

    Antonio Portaʼs poetic production is guided by a nomadic conception of writing that advocates a constant pursuit of new forms.¹ In his works, writing becomes a linguistic and existential journey marked by tension and restlessness. Literature is conceived as an open and endless project, a work in progress in which the exploration of language and the inquisitive gaze on the world always coincide.

    Influenced by the general philosophical orientation provided by phenomenology and existentialism, particularly the writings of Karl Jaspers and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Porta believes that experiences of reality and acts of cognition are never definitive or totalizing. For him,...

  11. 7 Nanni Balestrini and the Invisibility of the Poetic ʹIʹ
    (pp. 148-163)

    Nanni Balestrini takes the revolt of the Novissimi against conventional forms of poetry and the commodification of the linguistic code to extreme limits.¹ His experimentation can in fact be recognized as one of the groupʼs most radical attempts to break down literary practices tied to principles of subjectivity or to representational canons. In Balestriniʼs poetic space, there is no possibility either of a subjective use of language or of formulating a narration of the life-world. This is a poetry in which the authorial voice is essentially pulverized and made invisible. Writing, conventionally intended as an individual expression of style and...

  12. 8 Other Poets, Other Subversions
    (pp. 164-179)

    The five Novissimi represent the poetic core of Gruppo 63. However, they were not alone. A number of poets joined the group and actively participated in its various gatherings. Indeed, even at the time of the publication of the anthology edited by Giuliani, rumours circulated that Edoardo Cacciatore¹ had been considered for inclusion in the group but his ʻcandidatureʼ was firmly opposed by Sanguineti. Cacciatore never participated to the activities of Gruppo 63 or associated with any literary circles, remaining essentially a loner throughout his entire poetic career. There is no question, however, that Cacciatoreʼs poetry displays traits of a...

  13. 9 Crossing the Boundaries of the Word: The Visual Poets
    (pp. 180-191)

    An aesthetics of transgression both of the linguistic code and of conventional literary models animated the principal objectives pursued by the Novissimi and Gruppo 63. It must be underscored, however, that although the group was guided by the view that traditional poetic canons had reached a point of exhaustion and non-communication, it never envisaged crossing the boundaries of language, still regarded as poetryʼs exclusive medium. Indeed, even the most daring experiments, like those by Balestrini and Porta carried out with collage techniques inspired by concretism, accentuate the visibility of the poem without abandoning the linguistic sign. This was not the...

  14. 10 Closing Remarks
    (pp. 192-196)

    The phenomenon of the Italian neoavant-garde reveals both the complexity and the contradictions that accompany projects of artistic and literary innovation within the economic and cultural structures of late capitalism. Literature is not an innocent activity and it cannot nourish the illusion of easily escaping the power and control of economic and ideological forces. Indeed, the relationship between literature and hegemonic social discourses, or between literary language and the social system of communication, was a central preoccupation of the neoavant-garde. Even though it did not abandon the transgressive fury that characterized the historical avant-garde, it deeply problematicized and undermined literatureʼs...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 197-230)
  16. Works Cited
    (pp. 231-242)
  17. Index
    (pp. 243-250)