Italy Literature Part I

Italy Literature Part I

Whoever, in today’s Italian literature, hopes to find the signs of a clear detachment, of a “decisive turning point” produced by what has recently happened in the world and particularly in Italy, could perhaps be disappointed. Not that those signs are lacking at all (and just look at the more recent fiction), and this literature has estranged itself into Arcadian lazes; but being only moments or aspects of a process of renewal already underway for many years, such signs have very little of the abrupt evidence or immediacy that that researcher might perhaps expect.

Moreover, According to Usaers, Fascism itself had little effect on that process: and because the new literature, all folded in on itself to listen to the secret heartbeat of sensations, or abducted far from reality in the enchanted domains of memory, seemed to offer little grip to the dominant rhetoric. ; and because the latter, if it formulated some rough concordances between “art and life”, little was then taken care of whether they were respected. And in fact the political declamations on healthy optimism, on the primacy of race, on Romanism and the like, corresponded, in literature, to a “hermetic” poem, a narrative of unrealistic and “indifferent”, a celebrating theater, in the footsteps of Pirandello, the disintegration of the self. Not to mention the criticism, oscillating between Crocianism and hermeticism (see criticism, in this App.). Of course, in this unbridled irrationalism, that the thought, the will, the moral world overwhelms or cancels in the sense, it is also possible to recognize a common root with those psychological and political attitudes that led to the dictatorship. But it is also true that that irrationalism, which in art is called “decadentism”, was a European phenomenon long before it was Italian: and its phases, its developments – which in part still last – have been reconciled very well, in others countries, starting with France, with the freedom of institutions. In Italy that decadentism passed to politics through D’Annunzio degenerated into Futurism, that is, through a literature that became – by mechanical deterioration of the word into sound, into onomatopoeia – an action itself. But this passing happened just when the new literature, coming out of that long anti-Annunzian labor that reaches the Ronda from the Voce, he brought back the word to its lyrical essentiality. In short, fascism inherited, serving it up to the extreme consequences, that poor D’Annunzio that literature had repudiated, indeed expelled from itself to rely if ever on a completely different D’Annunzio: the “pure” and perennial one of Alcyone and nocturnal and secret prose. Fascism and new literature thus found themselves, at a given point, and with very few exceptions (such as certain “extrapaesanismo” of the early days, which was however a way), on opposite sides, speaking two different languages.

Now, if we want to make a fair assessment of the last decade, the signs mentioned must be grasped in depth, in the intimate events of that development which, in thirty years and more of tests, researches, experiences, carried out in contact with the currents more alive than European culture, it has led Italian literature to renew its taste and its expressive ways.

Therefore it is not surprising if, in poetry, the prevailing climate today is still that of pure or hermetic lyricism, being hermeticism (see in this App.), In its historically positive meaning, one of the culminating moments of that development, indeed, compared to the courtly tradition of Italian poetry, one of its most “revolutionary” manifestations. Naturally, in recent years this hermeticism has in turn evolved. The initial anti-classical trend subsided, thanks to a re-approach to the great lyrics of the past (Leopardi above all, and Petrarch: albeit read through the poetics of Poe, Baudelaire or Valéry), from the original clumps of sensations and images gradually released a certain poetic “discourse”, still elliptical and allusive, but with its own ideal continuity; just as from the dazzling alliteration of those lines and verses, rare on the white of the page, the “song” arose – with a “regular” metric, but preciously lightened and shattered: strongly paused again, but singing. And the autobiographical instances have become increasingly transposed into landscapes, hours, seasons, struck by an astonished light: which (with certain motifs of stylized mythology: swans, nymphs, sirens; Lede, Apolli, Narcisi…) are like the emblems or the allegories of those anxieties for the unknown, those nostalgia for childhood, those strenuous searches for “lost time”, in which contemporary humanity tries to elude the anguish of existence, the slavery of instincts and blood.

A mirror, in large part, of this evolution of hermeticism is the work of Giuseppe Ungaretti: in which the lyrics of The Pain (1947) mark a new moment, after those of the Joy and Sentiment of time. To a more direct and profound thrill of his “pain”, of feeling himself a “passing image” but “taken in an immortal turn”, corresponds a wider articulation of the word and of the rhythm. The Hungarian soliloquy-colloquy, that “unanimous cry” which in the Sentiment had often become hymn and prayer, here aims to resolve the heated verticality of the time in an ever-fervent horizontality, but more sinuous and, in its own way, effused: even if, of course, this involves its risks. Eugenio Montale represents, of the hermetic taste, a more acute, more difficult phase, but also more sensitive to those needs of elaborate design, of syntactic and strophic architecture, which are typical of younger poets. Ungaretti remains, so to speak, the poet of pure “subjectivity”. Montale, on the other hand, is an “objective” poet, who of the reality of things, of the external world, of the aspects of nature – observed with a critical, corrosive gaze – makes as many “occasions” to symbolize his painful sense of existence, almost of bitterness. undertow or drift. In passing from Ossi di seppia, in fact, to Le Occasions (1939) and to the more recent lyrics, he has at times exasperated his expressive travail, made his analogism even more intense; but he also knew how to draw arcane incandescences from that arid fervor of his, and give a much deeper vibration to those forms of his which hold, together, the epigrammatic and the descriptive, the motet and the poem.

Italy Literature 01

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