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Italian Literary Icons

Italian Literary Icons

Gian-Paolo Biasin
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv9sf
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  • Book Info
    Italian Literary Icons
    Book Description:

    Focusing on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Italian literature, Gian-Paolo Biasin explores a series of challenges posited for literary criticism by the success of semiotics, testing theoretical concepts not so much on theoretical grounds as in their practical application to literary texts from the high Romantic lyric of Ugo Foscolo to the postmodern, cosmicomic" tales of Italo Calvino.

    Originally published in 1985.

    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: 978-1-4008-5484-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction. Taffy’s Beavers
    (pp. 3-17)

    In one of hisJust So Stories, Rudyard Kipling takes us back to the Neolithic Age to show “How the First Letter Was Written.” In this tale, a little girl named Taffy sends a stranger home to fetch a new spear for her father, who has broken his while fishing. The stranger, a member of the Tewara tribe, does not know the language of the little girl’s people, and the message he carries—a drawing roughly scratched on a piece of bark from a birch tree—is misunderstood. At first, Taffy’s mother takes it to mean that the stranger has...

  6. One. In the Primordial Origin of Evening
    (pp. 18-47)

    In a memorable essay entitled “Romantic Space,” the late Francesco Arcangeli wrote: “In my opinion oneoughtto risk a definition of Romanticism, and I believe that, as for any other art movement, the only criterion must necessarily be to try to define what Romanticism has given that isnewerin comparision to preceding epochs and movements.”¹

    Arcangeli proposes an interpretation of Romanticism that is no longer centered upon the commonly accepted Latin and French line of Géricault and Delacroix. Instead, he turns to a Nordic and British line featuring Constable and Turner because it expresses a new spatiality of...

  7. Two. Fieramosca’s Challenge
    (pp. 48-77)

    In the year 1829, the Marquis Massimo D’Azeglio produced a large oil painting entitledLa sfida di Barletta. It was done in a grand manner that combined British landscape description (à la Constable) and French-Italian historical representation (à la Francesco Hayez); a manner we could term as belonging not with Turner but with “moderate” Romanticism. D’Azeglio was not a professional painter. He was, rather, a not unworthy amateur whose pictures are listed by the poet Guido Gozzano among “le buone cose di pessimo gusto,” or “good things in the worst taste.”

    While he was painting, D’Azeglio had an inspiration: he...

  8. Three. Sicilian Epiphanies
    (pp. 78-114)

    Among the critics who have recently written about Giovanni Verga, two have focused their attention on part one, chapter four, ofMastro-don Gesualdo(a chapter that is a true, paradigmaticsummaof the protagonist’s destiny) and on the crucial and determining function that is displayed in it by the landscape.

    In examining the “construction” of the novel and noting its perfect division into two parts (corresponding to the ascent and fall of the eponymous character), Guido Guglielmi has organized every aspect of the narrative according to a perspective that could be defined, at least initially, as Proppian:

    The character who...

  9. Four. The Red or the Black
    (pp. 115-142)

    As he thus seemed to be gliding down, he thought: “The horrible thing about our modern society is that it lacks all right of asylum. If I get terror-stricken, if I am pursued, whither am I to go for refuge? ... I know where my redemption would lie; in becoming a peasant and tilling the soil,—a workman, even at the Adsum,—a sailor on a vessel that would require six months to make its voyage. But who’ll take me? What trade am I good for? Why, I’m a good-for-nothing! I’m an intellectual!”

    He was close to the wall that...

  10. Five. The Laboratory and the Labyrinth
    (pp. 143-165)

    It is interesting to note that while in medicine the science of symptoms is traditionally called “semeiotics,” in literary criticism a similar word, “semiotics” (also used in medicine as a synonym of “semeiotics”) is used to define the science of signs.¹

    My purpose in this chapter is to explore how literature deals with disease—more precisely, with mental disease—particularly at the semiotic level. Here symptoms become the signs of a language that the writer tries to decode and interpret in order to understand the Other, the sick person, and through the sick person disease itself, the irrational, what by...

  11. Six. 4/3πr³
    (pp. 166-190)

    Interest in space, considered as a cognitive category, undoubtedly is a fundamental aspect of philosophic, scientific, and cultural thought and can be formulated in very different ways, of which the epigraphs for this chapter are only two examples. These epigraphs are meaningful because they also indicate the central position such an interest has in literature: Gadda is a writer whose work has a strong philosophic content, and Foucault is a thinker and scientist who is interested in literary criticism.¹

    The cognitive category “space” can be approached from many directions, and considered in different moments and different cultural contexts. For instance,...

  12. Index
    (pp. 191-196)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-200)