Italy Literature Part IV

Italy Literature Part IV

As for the “young” writers, they all appear intended – in their acute need for objectivity, detachment, perspective, which does not exclude, indeed presupposes the minutiae of investigation – to the establishment of a new narrative time and language. Generation, therefore, essentially of storytellers, in which the acquisitions of previous generations are combined, not without fruit, with experiences of other literatures, especially the American and Russian, sometimes assimilated through a direct work of translation. And the banner under which this narrative is collected is that of realism: a realism, moreover, far from the nineteenth-century one, as an expression of a non-historiographical taste – even if it presents itself with social demands or with still “provincial” features – but evocative and memorialistic, which in some respects is its antithesis, aiming not so much at historical reality, at the truth, as at a reality dreamed of and made magical by memory, teeming with mysterious links between man, nature and things, all ebbs and flows between the ‘today and yesterday, between the apparent and the occult, between thought and meaning (indeed sex), between the nightmare of the limit, which is the moral law, and the levity of gambling, of gambling. A realism, in short, “surreal” (which does not necessarily mean surrealistic): which often corresponds to a strenuously analytical or psychoanalytic narrative; a narrative, sometimes, from a memorial or from a report;  but always deeply committed to tightening and portraying in characters and situations that “unconscious”, that ineffable “, which is her muse and her torment.

According to Countryvv, there are various trends and ways in which this realism has been mottled in recent years. There are writers for whom that memory is, in Proustian terms, a search for “lost time”, and narrating a retracing backwards, with the aid of Freud (and sometimes of Sade), images, dreams, memories, up to the ancestral mystery of blood . Tendency that goes from the idyllic moralizing of Alessandro Bonsanti and from the casuistic one, with sudden openings of the landscape, by Guido Piovene (Letters of a novice, 1941; Pietà contro pietà, 1946), to the tale between crepuscular and Kafkaesque by Dino Buzzati (The desert dei Tartari, 1940) or Ennio Flaiano; and which has a wide following among writers, as the one that best lends itself – with its interior monologues, its epistolary forms, its anxious evocativeness – to the need, precisely female, of introversions, confessions, fantasies. And from Paola Masino to Margherita Cattaneo, from Maria Chiappelli to Anna Maria Ortese, from Elsa Morante to Orsola Nemi to Pia d’Alessandria, the results are often very happy. (Apart from Anna Banti and Maria Bellonci in a field of research or critical-lyrical contamination). And there are writers in whom that moral or moralistic motif, which is accompanied – sometimes with a lucid, almost eighteenth-century pleasure of the intelligence – to all the new fiction, loves to be transposed into humorous ways, of satire or parody of bourgeois costume: with mimicry, spectacular, as in Vitaliano Brancati (Don Giovanni in Sicily, 1941), or surrealist, as in Tommaso Landolfi (Le due zittelle, 1946). And then there is the growing family of “neorealist” storytellers, where the interest in the external world, the environment, society, although strictly related to that for the inner life, conscious and subconscious, nevertheless makes itself felt more than in other writers: and therefore their area of ​​excavation it is, apparently, closer to the so-called everyday reality. It is the tendency that, at its extremes, Elio vittorini and Alberto Moravia have: one representative of a narrative which, due to its own ties or sympathies for the “prose of art” and for the “poetic aura” of the evocative ones, it retains even in the most crude forms (or where it most seems to trace the Americans) a tone of lyrical memory; the other represents a «sliricata» narrative, of a «prosaprosa», which tends towards art above all by virtue of intimate design and architecture. And with vittorini, whose Conversation in Sicily (1941) remains one of the salient books of these years, it should be remembered – in a very varied range of sensibilities and expressions – Cesare Pavese (Your Countries, 1941), PA Quarantotti-Gambini (L’onda dell ‘ cruiser, 1948), Giuseppe Dessì (San Silvano, 1939), Romano Bilenchi (The drought, 1941), Vasco Pratolini (Family chronicle, 1947). With Moravia, who gave us his most harmonious, most beautiful story in Agostino (1944), we will remember Francesco Jovine (The buried pastor, 1945), Ignazio Silone, Carlo Bernari, Arrigo Benedetti and Giuseppe Berto (The sky is red, 1947). And it is on this second branch of neorealism that the Marxist or populist tendency, born of the war (especially partisan), and using a language that is hardly differentiated from the news, has recently come to be grafted onto it; and that which is affected by French existentialism in certain harsh and foul-mouthed sexual accentuations. But so far – precisely due to the prevalence of the thesis or the manner – they have given to art; and from the literature of the Resistance the most poetic book remains, between story and essay, the Christ stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi.

But common to both neorealists, and a little, in general, to all new storytellers, is the intent to articulate the characters better and better than the landscape, the atmosphere or the chorus that still surround them; to ensure that the action, the “drama” is born from the fickle web of sensations and introversions, and that the dialogue resurrects and flows from the indirect narrative and the interior monologue. That dialogue through which only the character can acquire, whatever his proportions, his individuality, his voice, his “duration”. The problem of problems, for the young fiction, is here. (And to it goes in a certain sense also that of the rebirth of a theater which – after the dissolution of the old forms of bourgeois comedy, operated by Pirandello and Pirandellismo – give an adequate stage language to the new spiritual instances. Today the only true poet in this field is Ugo Betti). In any case, the young fiction, in the complex of its tendencies and, more importantly, of the works, constitutes – together with poetry – the newest and certainly the richest aspect of the future of the contemporary literary panorama.

Italy Literature 04

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