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Tuscan Spaces

Tuscan Spaces: Literary Constructions of Space

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  • Book Info
    Tuscan Spaces
    Book Description:

    InTuscan Spaces, Silvia Ross focuses on constructions of Tuscany in twentieth-century Italian literature and juxtaposes them with English prose works by such authors as E.M. Forster and Frances Mayes to expose the complexity of literary representation centred on a single milieu.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9891-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Architecture and Architectural History, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    Tuscany has long played an important part in the literary production of writers both Italian and non-Italian. The reasons for the region’s cultural impact are numerous and derive from its distinctive geography, its singular history, and its unique contribution not only to the development of Italian language but also to Western literature and art. Throughout different epochs, Tuscany has constituted the locus of major socio-historical and economic trends: from the Middle Ages onwards it was a key mercantile hub, subsequently it was known as the epicentre of the Renaissance, and, later still, under Unification – in part because of its exceptional...

  6. 1 The Country and the City: Vertigo and Legendary Psychasthenia in Tozzi’s Tuscany
    (pp. 19-43)

    Descriptions of place constitute an integral element of Federigo Tozzi’s poetics of alienation and the subject’s perception of space denotes a sense of dis-ease with the external world. For Williams, landscapes imply a division between the human and the natural: ‘The very idea of landscape implies separation and observation’ (120). Yet when Tozzian characters observe their surroundings, their interactions with them belie such a statement as Williams’s, since their rapport with their environment is characterized precisely by a breaking down of barriers, an intermingling, between the subject and space.

    While some critics have labelled his descriptive passages ‘digressions’ because they...

  7. 2 Palazzeschi’s Spaces of Difference: The Materassi Sisters at the Window
    (pp. 44-66)

    Textual space for Palazzeschi, as for Tozzi, is intrinsically linked to questions of difference, yet the Florentine writer’s sense of alterity is connected above all with sexuality. Much of his poetry and prose is set in his native city, and the modes of portraying the Tuscan capital vary widely throughout his oeuvre, from his earlier abstract textLa Piramide(The Pyramid, 1926), to his ‘realist’ narratives such asStampe dell’ 800(Nineteenth-Century Prints, 1932) andSorelle Materassi(The Sisters Materassi, 1934) or his post–Second World War pieces ‘Il paesaggio’ (‘Landscape,’ 1947) and ‘Ho sognato Firenze’ (‘I dreamt of Florence,’...

  8. 3 Vasco Pratolini’s Florentine Spaces of Exclusion
    (pp. 67-89)

    Like his fellow Florentine, Palazzeschi, Vasco Pratolini is fascinated with portraying spaces of marginalization and alterity, locating them primarily in the periphery in his novelLa costanza della ragione(The Constancy of Reason, 1963). Pratolini’s in-between zones represent not so much the author’s own sense of alienation as his interest in accentuating the Other, an Other predicated on ethnic, sexual, or gender difference. For Pratolini, Florentine neighbourhoods – be they central or suburban – are imbued with these concerns.

    Indeed, Pratolini’s fiction obsessively returns to his native city. In fact, the majority of his works are set in streets of which he...

  9. 4 The Stendhal Syndrome, or The Horror of Being Foreign in Florence
    (pp. 90-119)

    While Florentine marginal or suburban zones constitute the spatial referents for Palazzeschi and Pratolini’s expressions of alterity, the city’s historic quarter is the epicentre of a phenomenon that signifies a head-on encounter with Otherness for writers such as Stendhal or E.M. Forster or for the filmmakers Merchant and Ivory or Dario Argento. The expression ‘Stendhal Syndrome’ – coined by the psychologist Graziella Magherini and derived from Stendhal’s own account of his visit to the Tuscan capital – is used to describe a psychosomatic reaction to the city’s profusion of art and history, whereby the subject, generally a foreign tourist, experiences symptoms ranging...

  10. 5 ‘Going Native’: Tuscan Houses and Italian Others in Contemporary American Travel Writing
    (pp. 120-141)

    Tuscan rural spaces, rather than Florence’s historic centre, constitute the locus for negotiating cultural alterity and seeking to establish one’s own identity in texts by contemporary American travel writers who have resettled in the countryside. The English-speaking world’s attraction to Italy, and in particular central Italy, dates at the very least back to the days of the Grand Tour as well as to the nineteenth-century British colonization of Tuscany.¹ The central Italian regions’ allure has endured up to the present, as witnessed in the phenomenon of the farming area of Chianti (tellingly dubbed ‘Chiantishire’ in popular parlance) functioning as a...

  11. 6 The Tuscan Countryside: Nature and the (Non) Domestic in Elena Gianini Belotti
    (pp. 142-163)

    In the mid-1970s Elena Gianini Belotti bought and restored a house in the countryside near a small village south-east of Siena, an experience that forms the background to her bookVoli(Flights, 2001). The concerns of this Italian feminist writer’s text, for the most part, diverge quite radically from contemporary accounts of analogous situations, such as those authored by Mayes or Leavitt and Mitchell. Belotti is not a native Tuscan (her provenance is from Rome), so she, too, has to adapt to environs that are technically not her own, although obviously the culture shock in her case is not as...

  12. Afterword: Further Tuscan Spaces of Alterity
    (pp. 164-170)

    InThe Structure of the Artistic TextLotman states, in reference to Tjutčev’s poetry: ‘We are interested in stressing that the spatial order of the world in these texts becomes an organizing element around which its non-spatial features are also constructed’ (220). The same can be said of the texts, both literary and filmic, analysed in this volume; at the same time, it can be argued that each writer or filmmaker inflects the spatial environments depicted in a such a manner as to mirror or underscore specific themes explored in the work. In essence, the spatial and the thematic are...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 171-200)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 201-214)
  15. Index
    (pp. 215-224)