martedì 12 gennaio 2016

Francesca Crisante: «“Classicità” da Byron a Swinburne» (Merope n. 63 - pp. 129-144)

Francesca Crisante
Paradigmi della “Classicità”:
presenza catulliana da Byron a Swinburne

Abstract — The influence of ancient Rome on Victorian culture and society deserves particular attention since the myth of Romanitas contains the idea of a state of perfection which, to a significant degree, inspired numerous imitations and emulations on the part of Victorian authors. This article examines the extraordinary influence Catullus exerted on both romantic and Victorian literary figures alike as a consequence of Byron’s admiration of his works. In particular, Catullus’s interpretation of the female world, his conception of sexuality as well as other aspects of Latin hedonism are revived in the poetry of Swinburne who never concealed the fact that he regarded Catullus as one of the founding models for his own poetry. An analysis of Catullus’s poetry confirms the extent to which his themes pervade both Victorian verse and the visual arts which not only draw inspiration from the Latin poet but also share his axiological vision.

Keywords: Catullus, Romanitas, Victorian poetry, imitation, Swinburne, sexuality

Maria Luigia Di Nisio: «Amy Levy» (Merope n. 63 - pp. 109-128)

Maria Luigia Di Nisio
Acquiescenza o ribellione: l’antica Grecia di Amy Levy

Abstract — In the course of the 1870s universities began to admit women, reluctantly allowing them a scholarly education: the first Jewish woman to attend Newnham College, Cambridge, Amy Levy had the opportunity to study Latin and Greek and be part of a lively female intellectual society, increasingly interested in classical culture. Women’s classicism in the last decades of the nineteenth century has been defined “heretical”, for it challenged male hegemony over the “sweetness and light” of the Ancient World, dramatizing oppression, desperation, violence and murderous passions. Levy’s revision of myth is no exception: the heroines of her Ancient Greece are thought-provoking figures, who debunk the Victorian ideal of womanhood, while addressing broader issues of cultural inclusion as well as the notions of history, canonicity and myth. This essay focuses on three poems, A Greek Girl, Xantippe and Medea, all written between 1879 and 1882, exploring how Levy defies cultural, sexual and ethnical categories, and further experiments with formal strategies, moving from the dramatic monologue to the more complex closet drama. 

Keywords: Levy, women poets, feminism, classicism, dramatic monologue

Maria Giovanna Petrillo: «Jean-Philippe Toussaint» (Merope n. 63 - pp.87-108)

Maria Giovanna Petrillo 
La città italiana nell’opera di Jean-Philippe Toussaint

Abstract — From Malot’s to Benjamin’s Paris, through Dickens’ London up to  Calvin’s invisible cities  or the long-debated Ballard’s “Ultimate  City”, the city has taken on, within the all-time literary landscape,  a crucial importance for the novel’s framework, becoming “un lieu  scénique” intended as a space, latu sensu, of the “modern” linguistic  and literary geography, “hyperbole de la grande opposition dialectique  culture versus nature”. Within these dynamics, the Italian city has  enchanted, with its unusual and unique details, French and Francophone  writers that, starting from Stendhal and George Sand, have  fictionalized it in cameos with recognizable features in works in  which, as pointed out by Jean -Yves Tadié “la carte de la ville  organise la narration; l’éclatement de la mégapole la multiplie la  pulverize”. On the contrary, as this paper will attempt to show, the  Italian city in Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s work is presented to the  reader in two ways: on the one hand, in the first part of his literary  production, as a city “sans qualities”, a “non-lieux” where “rien ne  bouge” and in which the non-personality of the first person narrator  sees his reflection in a narcissistic Lacanian mirror game; on the  other hand, in the second part of his literary production, the Italian city is a kind of topical landmark, milestone, implying both a  narrative turning point and a substantial change in the first person  narrator’s personality.

Keywords: city, Italy, first-person narrator, stillness, sea

Raffaella Sciarra: «Jane Austen» (Merope n. 63 - pp. 61-85)

Raffaella Sciarra
“In trade”: commercio, profitti e snobismo di casta in Emma
di Jane Austen

Abstract — Through an in-depth analysis of Emma and its main and secondary characters, I aim to demonstrate how Austen’s work increasingly engage in a complex relationship to the economy, moving through an examination of it as measure of social morality but also as agent of social disruption. Throughout the eighteenth century, commerce and trade were viewed on the one hand as necessary to the well-being of the nation and on the other as a threat to the social order. In this context, the man of commerce was figured as a cause of disorder in English culture. The fearsome personal mobility of social status was becoming more achievable as Austen wrote: in the circumscribed social context of Highbury, one of the recurring themes thus pivots on rank and its defence from attacks of a changing world. In particular, I will examine the role of all characters “in trade” or related to commerce, and the opinionated way they are depicted by the author. The stigma of commerce is indeed evident throughout the novel and it reflects the reaction of the time to the emerging commercial and consumer culture. In a time when the general order and stability of society and the “rights of property” were inseparably linked, the emerging of the new upstarts, i.e., the broad category of moneyed and professional families that struggle to conquer a place in society, becomes a terrifying menace to the old ranked “landed gentry”. However, social acceptance proves harder to achieve than material wealth.

Keywords: commerce, economy, rank, order, mobility

Angelo Riccioni: «Frederic Prokosch» (Merope n. 63 - pp. 39-60)

Angelo Riccioni
Frederic Prokosch e il mito di Lord Byron

Abstract — This essay provides an analysis of a long-forgotten novel about Lord Byron, The Missolonghi Manuscript (1968), written by the American author Frederic Prokosch (1906-1989). Born in a cosmopolitan and well educated family in Madison, Wisconsin, Prokosch travelled widely for much of his life through Europe, writing books that aroused the admiration of Thomas Mann, Albert Camus, Thornton Wilder and of his long-dated friend Gore Vidal. At first sight a reconstruction of the lost memoirs of Lord Byron, The Missolonghi Manuscript actually is, in his author’s words, ‘a study of the romantic artist’. As a consequence, the novel seems to transcends Byron’s life involving reflections on the way Romantic art changed the history of ideas. Focusing on the reasons that led Prokosch to write his imaginary portrait of the ‘Wicked Lord’ and examining the modalities of his literary depiction of Byron, this work explores how history and biography blend together in The Missolonghi Manuscript in order to depict the Zeitgeist of the Romantic Era. Finally, this essay aims to revaluate the position of Frederic Prokosch in XX century literature, stressing the importance of The Missolonghi Manuscript as a precursor to that kind of postmodernist historical fiction notably practised by Anthony Burgess, A.S Byatt and Umberto Eco.

Keywords: Frederic Prokosch, Lord Byron, The Missolonghi Manuscript, Romanticism, imaginary portrait

Francesco Marroni: «Beckett» (Merope n. 63 - pp. 5-37)

Francesco Marroni
Beckett, le arti visive e gli antimodelli estetici

Abstract — In his search for an aesthetics which would liberate him from the influence of Joyce and allow him to discover a new literary approach, Beckett found important suggestions as well as a working method in the visual arts. What he learnt initially from Dutch art and, later, from David Caspar Friedrich would lead to the minimalist valence of his writing which was not unconnected with an interpretation of humanity as an insignificant presence within the vast dimension of the cosmos. As a result of his continual dialogue with the visual arts, Beckett would measure himself against Paul Cézanne from whom, as suggested by the watercolour Mont Sainte-Victoire, he derived the image of a deanthropomorphised world. In both his plays and narrative works, Beckett translates this idea by representing human beings in the face of nothingness as derelict creatures whose only sense of destiny is their own misery and fragmented survival.

Keywords: Beckett, visual arts, aesthetics, antimodels, deanthropomorphisation, nothingness