Forum Italicum: A Journal of Italian Studies · Center for Italian Studies, Stony Brook University, NY. Journal Indexing. more» · Journal Home; Browse Journal. paperback entitled Marcovaldo ovvero le stagioni in città,1 is that intriguing . members, commenting on “La sfida al labirinto,” accused Calvino of remaining. before the author’s death, may be considered Calvino’s literary testament . sial, and the essay “La sfida al labirinto” was followed by a polemic.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Calvino’s Reading of Leopardi. Actually, Calvino provides an interesting and useful way to look at the prespective given by Leopardi. What is implied is something Linda Hutcheon argues in The Politics of Ql when she associates postmodernism with the will to de-naturalize epistemlogical systems that are not aware of their cultural and representational nature2.

It is not that representation now dominates or effaces the referent, but rather that it now self-consciously acknowledges its existence as representation — lw is, as interpreting indeed as creating capvino referent, not as offering direct and immediate access to it. In other words, the image of the labyrinth and the function of literature as the thread of Ariadne that provides, if not a way out, a way of living in a state of challenge to the labyrinth rather than surrender.

La sfida al labirinto sessuale. L’eros nell’opera di Italo Calvino

And here the question of style is fundamental, since it reveals the impact that thinkers like Leopardi can have on the worldview of a reader and the method of a writer. One effect is that it leads one necessarily back to a point of departure that insists on revealing the artifice, and maintaining the artifice in interaction with that which is beyond the artifice.

As Kerstin Pilz puts it: The import of this echoes the work of Giambattista Vico and a whole school of thought that is convinced that the artifice style becomes tiresome and empty when it is no longer connected to life, and it perpetuates in solipsistic emptiness.

In the following passage Calvino describes how reason and imagination interact in the literature of the fantastic: Leopardi points out that the Milanese Romantics refuse to see the relevance of formal training in poetry, claiming that it results in artificiality and represses spontaneity. Leopardi attacks this belief and makes a convincing argument in the opposite direction, stating sffida the more one labrinto studied grammar and language, the better one will be able to avoid artificiality and lack of spontaneity: In his concluding remarks, after having made reference to the importance of Galileo, he states the nature of the language Calvino and Leopardi aspired to: Perec was convinced that constraints stimulate the creative a Zibaldone, [] 32 Leopardi takes a firm position against di Breme and the Romantics, much like Calvino does when it comes to the beat generation in his essay La sfida al labirintowhere he states that the beatniks are products of the industrial revolution and do not provide an alternative way of life to the one produced by capitalism in the Sixties.

For the individual immersed in ls industrialized society, where scientific rationalism dominates, these forms of protest do not suggest a return to Nature but simply provide a naturalization of industry. In other words, they accept the natural existence of the system or labyrinth they live in without wanting to play by its wfida. Calvino frowns upon the beatniks and considers them savages of a mechanical jungle that is 8 The passage quoted from Queneau is the following: Yet completeness, the so-called actual infinite, lies beyond our reach.

That is, limit as indefinite and not absolute, along with it being a source of pleasure and happiness: Calvino describes this perspective in Cibernetica e fantasmi: In his moral essay Storia del genere umano, Leopardi makes a connection between il vero and il vago, which is related to his concern about the imagination and the happiness of humanity. This character possesses an awareness of a profound moral secret, an innate sense which has largely been lost today: If limits are constantly revealed, Leopardi stresses that the infinite must be re-established.

This is his main argument in Storia del genere umano.

garadinervi – Italo Calvino, La sfida al labirinto, «Il menabò»,

This implies that the road to truth is a continuous unveiling of errors; very similar to what in later years Karl Popper expresses in his idea that the aim of science is calivno In this lecture he turns to Leopardi to discuss the opposite of esattezza, the vague or the indefinite15, and states: In each case you would be able to identify a cause and an effect.


Whenever a stochastic description becomes necessary, this is no longer so. We can no longer speak of causality in each individual experiment; we can only speak about statistical causality. This has, in fact, been the case ever since the advent of quantum mechanics, but it has been greatly amplified by recent developments in which randomness and probability play an essential role, even in classical dynamics of chemistry. Perfection in Style When Leopardi compares literary to scientific institutions, he observes that while scientific institutions have helped science progress, the same cannot be said for literary institutions in their efforts regarding literature Zibaldone, Vol.

He points out that while science never loses its link with A, because its very existence is based on it, literature tends to distance itself from Nature by, in a sense, stopping in its tracks and admiring a finished product. Since literature is prone to such rigidity, Leopardi attempts to clarify what perfection in style should be: Bisogna che il suo stile sia padrone delle lqbirinto He continues by saying that those writers who claim to have achieved perfection in style are in reality prisoners of style and have unknowingly limited themselves in their writing: He states this clearly in Esattezza: As Calvino says to Maria Corti in her interview: According to him it is not appropriate to calfino of style with Calvino, but rather of maniera, since there is no definite form, but rather a constant tendency toward disrupting form.

In the preface to his first novel Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno The Path of the Nest of Spidershe expresses regret for the limitations he gave that experience of his life: In Filosofia e letteratura Calvino reiterates his need to consider the complexity of ccalvino in his belief that literature must interact with science and philosophy in such a way that reality is never really defined: Science, Leopardi and Calvino seem to suggest, in its perpetual contact with the elements of Nature, can teach literature to maintain its link with reality.

Literature, on the other hand, may be useful to science in that it makes it aware of its conceptualizing nature. Their whole argument deals with the insertion of time and irreversibility in our picture of Nature. In this picture one arrives at a conception of knowledge as both objective and participatory.

Nature cannot be described from the outside as if by a spectator: Bantam Books, Prigogine and Stengers come to the following result: Lz Calvino states in an interview: This method of writing for Calvino is characterized by an attempt to capture, within the stillness of the literary form, the complexity of the labyrinth of reality in order to maintain a postion of challenge, of sfida al labirinto.

Calvino describes this approach with the myth of Medusa killed by the hero Perseus who indicates a way to avoid petrification in literary style. In other words, Perseus looks at reality as it is reflected on his shield, like in a mirror, in order to kill Medusa.

La sfida al labirinto sessuale. L’eros nell’opera di Italo Calvino

Looking at her directly would make Perseus turn to stone, and therefore be dominated by the reality through which he is attempting to navigate. Therefore, reality must be lightened of its potential weight with a strategy of indirectness, which can provide the key to a better and deeper knowledge of reality. For Calvino, the mimetic approach, or Neorealism, is one that leads to petrification and therefore to a state of resa al labirinto rather than sfida al labirinto.

Leopardi seems to give the reader a contrast between an Arcadian tone at the beginning and then an introspective tone that ignites the imagination. As a result, it is clear that the period at the end of the third verse ends the first stage of the poem.

What follows, although it is a shift in tonality and perspective, seems to interact with the first three verses.

In labieinto first three verses the terminology used is caalvino by words that are made up of two syllables, while the fourth verse introduces words that contain from three to five syllables, indicating thus a progressive movement toward the infinite The quotation from the Zibaldone shows how the dynamics of cognition is actualized through the presence of a limit.

The cavlino thing is that sfkda process involves lxbirinto initial stage where one sees visible and familiar limits to a second stage of imagining with the eyes of the mind what lies beyond the visible limits This movement, or progression, is not unlike the method aal Calvino applies for the writing of Cosmicomiche. He also begins from visible and familiar limits: After the scientific statement in italics, Calvino shifts to the space of the imagination.


We may see, hear, feel, smell, and touch it, but do we know it in the sense that we give meaning to it? Di Breme is convinced that anthropomorphism distances us from the true essence of things. Leopardi, instead, argues that it is precisely anthropomorphism that makes objects more real and tangible. To this he adds that it is impossible for the imagination of human beings not to be anthropomorphic Discorso To be sure, consider the following comment in his Discorso: Her argument demonstrates that Qfwfq describes things from the labrinto of the first observer, and, as a result, the referent is freed from previous interpretations.

The effect is that the scientific statement must be set aside and the reader is made to view not only the referent in a different way but also the system of representation that has spoken on its behalf Its result is to stimulate thought that creates space beyond the images and representations of reality. The difference between the two is a contrast 22 In note 31 Napoletano explains the estrangement-effect present in Cosmicomiche: The latter creates, with its metre, syntax, and choice of words, the impressions that take over the mind and overwhelm the subject with a sense of the infinite.

The prose, laburinto the other hand, describes the concepts and is much less engaging than the poem In the cosmicomic stories the difference between the scientific statements and the narrative fiction is a reflection of this dichotomy. Indeed, Calvino places the impressions of cwlvino subject Qfwfq after the scientific statement.

However, it also suggests an interaction between the two. From the scientific statement there is a shift from what is considered objective scientific truth to the subjective truth of Qfwfq.

In this process, Calvino teaches us to learn from science, and at the same time he de-naturalizes the language of science and demonstrates that scientific rationalism does not necessarily lead to a disenchanted world, or to the end of poetry and anthropomorphism. It reveals them as being devices that in turn contradict the nature of the genre according to the expectations of the reader.

In his opinion, the time was mature for the overcoming of this gap: The contradiction occurs when the familiar becomes unfamiliar and the genre is made to step out of bounds leading the reader into unfamiliar territory. Recall that after the first three verses Leopardi changes direction, and what appears to be a familiar sonnet modelled on Petrarch becomes something unfamiliar and new Napoletano describes the same effect in Calvino: As a result, what is being questioned is not limited to a literary model, but can be extended to questioning a model of reality.

This suggests a utopian dimension whose implication is based on the notion that external freedom is only possible by acquiring internal freedom Napoletano explains in note Leopardi provides a distant and familiar past and then presents us with the infinite potentiality of the imagination, which is always present. Indeed, the first and last verses are the finite limits of an unbounded imagination.

The metre, syntax, and punctuation of these verses are much less dynamic than in the other verses, which are dominated by numerous enjambements and frequent punctuation.

This does not necessarily mean complete chaos will result. Quantum theory provides a calvion possibility by using the four dimensions of Euclidean space- time, which suggests that no singularity is necessary and the universe just is, without creation or destruction: There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down, and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time.

The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself.

It would neither be created nor destroyed. Einstein also considers the idea of a finite and unbounded universe, and asks if we are able to visualize such a universe.