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Rewriting the Journey in Contemporary Italian Literature

Rewriting the Journey in Contemporary Italian Literature: Figures of Subjectivity in Progress

Cinzia Sartini Blum
  • Book Info
    Rewriting the Journey in Contemporary Italian Literature
    Book Description:

    Sartini Blum demonstrate that women writers and migrant authors in contemporary Italy present journeys as events that are beyond heroic modern exploration and postmodern fragmentation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8901-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    The Latin wordfigura, through its etymological link tofingere(to simulate or feign, but first and foremost, to shape), highlights the significance of tropes, symbols, and images in general. What Caren Kaplan says of metaphors applies to all such products of invention. Neither exemplary icons set in stone nor inconsequential figments of fancy, they are the mutable, communicable shapes of thought. They are also compelling topics for the critic concerned with appraising the affective charge and the ideological thrust of literary discourse. Figurations of displacement – the journey and its variants: wandering, migration, exile – most compellingly convey the energy that...

  5. chapter 1 Beyond the End of the Journey
    (pp. 11-42)

    Western intellectual history can be described as a progression of totalizing systems of thought, built on mythical, theological, and philosophical foundations. In the wake of the modern crisis of reason, such a progression seems to have dead-ended in an impasse, which postmodern literature expresses in terms of disconnection between writing and historical significance. These considerations apply also to the Italian context, despite its characteristic historicist orientation. The idealist and Marxist approaches that dominated modern Italian culture – Croce’s ‘straight road leading to “liberty”’and the ‘gradual path’ of dialectical materialism⁸ – have given way to negative stances, which are reflected in the prominent...

  6. chapter 2 Gradiva’s Journey: Genealogy of a Feminist Trope
    (pp. 43-90)

    Traditionally, travel has been associated with men’s prerogative, andmobility – physical, spiritual, and cultural – has been an attribute ofmasculinity. Femininity has been confined instead to domesticity, at themargins of culture, and accordingly conflated with the cyclical patternsof nature or the static condition of matter. ‘From its very beginning,’as Luigi Monga succinctly puts it, ‘travel appears as a “phallic” voyage’(29), because it ‘has always been considered aconquestof some sort, andtherefore a male activity’ (31; emphasis in original). The constitutivemasculinity of the journey as a defining arena of agency is similarly encapsulated by Eric Leed’s definition of ‘spermatic’ travel: ‘a time-honoredescape...

  7. chapter 3 Biancamaria Frabotta’s Lead: From fuga to viandanza
    (pp. 91-131)

    The melancholic concept of the end of the journey the end of authen ticity and adventure in a world polluted by the waste of progress and standardized by tourism underwrites Claude Lévi-Strauss’s famous reflections on modern travel in Tristes Tropiques. Lévi-Strauss’s image of the traveller’s fall from exotic grace may be viewed, in its turn, as a figure for the modern individual’s loss of ‘a center’ and ‘a direction’ (Marenco 78). This trope captures the mood of much contemporary literature and criticism. Ferroni, for instance, concludes his Storia della letteratura italiana. Il Novecento (History of Italian Literature: The Twentieth Century)...

  8. chapter 4 Walking in the Shoes of Another: Dacia Maraini’s Departures and Returns
    (pp. 132-168)

    Since her debut on the literary stage with the 1962 novelLa vacanza(trans. as The Holiday), Dacia Maraini has worked with a variety of styles, modes of representation, generic forms, and media. A consistent focus on ‘Italian women and their becoming’ (Testaferri, ‘De-tectingVoci’ 41)has remained, however, a unifying thread in her work. Alberto Moravia’scharacterization of Maraini as a realist writer in his introduction toLavacanzaset an influential precedent for the critical reception of her oeuvre. Like various other writers involved in the feminist movement, Maraini was subsequently defined as a feminist realist. If used reductively, as is...

  9. chapter 5 Exile as the Ultimate Utopia: Toni Maraini’s vivere vagabondo
    (pp. 169-201)

    InRicordi d’arte e prigionia di Topazia Alliata(2003, Topazia Alliata’s Memoirs of Art and Imprisonment), Toni Maraini picks up the story where Dacia Maraini left off – the family’s internment in the concentration camp of Tempaku. Like her sister, she writes a text that complements Topazia Alliata’s succinct journal, thereby performing a relational discursive operation of identity construction. She departs, however, from the auto/biographical approach that characterizesLa nave per Kobe(based on the first two notebooks, in which Topazia mainly focuses on her children) and gives more space to her mother’s story by addressing its historical implications. While Dacia...

  10. chapter 6 Bridging Cultures: Figures of Mediation
    (pp. 202-254)

    Toni Maraini’s journey points to new investigative directions. Following her lead, we pass from figures of subjectivity in progress to actual migrations, which test the geopolitical and cultural boundaries of ‘Fortress Europe.’ Over the past two decades, Italy has belatedly become one of the main destinations for the flux of people driven toward Western prosperity by the economic and political forces of that which has been called ‘the age of migration’ (Castles and Miller). The literature inspired by these displacements rewrites the trope of the journey and advances the metaphoric significance of wandering, thus contributing to shape an evolving notion...

  11. Conclusion: Toward an Interactive Universalism
    (pp. 255-258)

    In his seminal workThe Mind of the Traveler, Leed argues that travel is fundamental to the formation of individual as well as community identities in history. He refers to Susanne Langer’s suggestion, inFeeling and Form, ‘that we view history from the perspective of mobility and motion, rather than from the position of the emplaced, because this promises a clarification and the removal of distortions caused by the premise of sessility’ – the assumption that societies are pre-established rather than constantly in the process of formation and dissolution (Leed 19). The history of travel, from this point of view, indicates...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 259-346)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 347-372)
  14. Index of Names
    (pp. 373-381)