Eugenio Montale's Poetry

Eugenio Montale's Poetry: A Dream in Reason's Presence

Glauco Cambon
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvbwb
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Eugenio Montale's Poetry
    Book Description:

    Glauco Cambon draws on twenty-five years of commitment to Montale s poetry and prose for this extended critical analysis.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5343-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 INTRODUCTION: THE SEA OF BEING
    (pp. 3-33)

    Ossi di seppia,Cuttlefish Bones: the modest title of Eugenio Montale’s first volume of verse (1925) carries the salty breath of the vast element that works on the rugged Ligurian shores and, at the same time, a sense of the inexorable desiccation that the Mediterranean sun can visit on living and inanimate nature alike.¹ And the whole book reverberates that fierce light and pulses with the rhythms of the sea. It is first and foremost a rhapsody of the four elements, Nature’s essentiality confronted by a tried consciousness that keeps wavering between utter disenchantment and glimpsed ecstasy in the reiterated...

  5. 2 THE DESCENT INTO TIME
    (pp. 34-53)

    As we have seen, Montale’s first book hovers this side of historical time in the presence of a seaswept, sunstruck Nature that evokes either the memories of a lost childhood Eden or the promise of a Nirvana that will release the conscious self to the point of annihilating it in ecstatic union with the elements.¹ From that threshold of timelessness there could be only one way out: the descent into time as harrowing private and communal history, time as the ordeal of entropy, the cross of self-definition. In such a predicament, the mirage of fulfillment recedes far beyond the reach...

  6. 3 THE OCCASIONS OF EPIPHANY
    (pp. 54-89)

    As I have pointed out at the end of Chapter Two, Montale’s second book,Le occasioni(1939), probes more deeply the experience of time and eventually comes to terms with the hopeless dilapidations of contemporary history, if only in the oblique way that was then germane to him, witness “Dora Markus,” “Barche sulla Marna,” “Nuove stanze,” “Elegia di Pico Farnese,” “Palio.”¹ The progressively more clipped and elliptical diction matches the stark vision. Yet that relentless lucidity in the face of a gathering storm which seemed to bring to a head the crisis of Western civilization also allows for resilient intermittences...

  7. 4 THE PURGATORIAL SYNDROME
    (pp. 90-152)

    When I emphasized the pervasive relevance of Dante’s poetics to Eugenio Montale’s poetry almost a quarter of a century ago,¹ I certainly did not imply undue derivativeness on the part of the modern master, nor did I make that undeniable relevance a matter of literary imitation. Montale himself had obliquely acknowledged Dante’s importance to him by correlating his Clizia myth with the angelicized ladies of theDolce Stil Nuovopoets in his “Intenzioni (Intervista immaginaria)” of 1946; to be sure, in that context he had modestly avoided a comparison of his Clizia to Dante’s Beatrice, for the transfigured women in...

  8. 5 ANIMAL VITALITY
    (pp. 153-190)

    If the drive for ethical transcendence, for sublimation and visionary grace (or nightmare) informs so much of Montale’s finest verse, in keeping with his Dantesque affinity, this purgatorial attitude could hardly subsist without the contrary push toward life in the flesh. The two aspects, as expressed in the poetry, may become mutually complementary, or they may make for quite an antinomy—which should dissuade any reader from trying to reduce Montale’s artistic coherence to a matter of ideological one-sidedness. In his versatile universe, unsublimated Eros does not get short shrift, for the here and now of experience matters a great...

  9. 6 A DREAM IN REASON’S PRESENCE
    (pp. 191-204)

    Poetry, said a remote Genoese littérateur whom Montale repeatedly quotes with approval in his 1976 collection of critical essays,Sulla poesia,is “a dream dreamed in reason’s presence” (un sogno fatto in presenza della ragione). The statement can supply a clue to Montale’s poetic practice no less than to his literary preferences and criteria vis-à-vis other writers. How else are we to account, say, for his interest in contemporaries like Paul Valéry or T. S. Eliot, for his rejection of Surrealism and any irrationalist posture, for his vindication of Croce’s beneficial impact on Italian letters that the Neopolitan master allegedly...

  10. 7 THE WAY OF NEGATION
    (pp. 205-258)

    Though negation seems to grow into a dominant function in Montale’s verse (and prose) after the brief season of lyrical rapture and positive political commitment that markedLa bufera’s utterance, it had been part and parcel of his poetical mode from the very start. Negation tolls frequently inOssi di seppiato underscore the vision of cosmic aridity that offsets the green memories of childhood in the rugged, if still beautiful, native landscape of sea-bordering Liguria. It can take the form of a negative self-definition against the bleak (post-World War I) times, as when the poet says: “This is the...

  11. INDEX OF MONTALE TITLES AND THEIR TRANSLATIONS
    (pp. 259-264)
  12. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 265-274)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-275)