Tra fatto e verità: Narrazioni ibride e impegno

2011 2011

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Abstract (summary)

I work at the intersection of literature, ethics, and society. My dissertation is the first comprehensive study devoted to the reshaping of Italian novels in the wake of a new understanding of today's engaged intellectual. I argue that in the 1990s a major shift occurred from purely fictional "apolitical" narrations to more committed ones. I identify both national (A. Arbasino, L. Sciasia), and transnational (V.S. Naipaul, T. Wolfe) writers as influential models for contemporary Italian narrations that blur genre boundaries between fiction and nonfiction. Unlike many other scholars (G. Guglielmi, A. Cortellessa, and others), I argue that the mix of the two genres does not aim for a new form of realism, but is instead an attempt to present a morally articulated perspective on life in today's world. My research demonstrates how the use of a hybrid genre enables authors to address their readership both as storytellers as well as intellectuals engaged in issues of general concern to Italian society.

My analysis of the possibility of engaged literature today leads me to examine the ethics of literary representation more generally and consider works by Primo Levi (Se questo è un uomo), José Saramago (O Evangelho segundo Jesus Cristo), Roberto Saviano (Gomorra), and Susan Sontag (Regarding the Pain of Others) that exemplify the problematic relation between the text and the representation of suffering. Here I argue that aesthetics and ethics are "two sides of the same coin": what many contemporary authors refuse is, in fact, the "rhetoric of fiction," a rhetoric which falsifies reality and stimulates the readers's voyeurism. This is where my study returns to its starting point: the need of a new form of the novel. Such form should be narrative but overcome the "rhetoric of fiction;" it should describe the immediate, or factual reality, therefore assuring the social relevance of its discourse, but at the same time transcend it in order to convey a deeper, archetypical, meaning of human history. From this perspective, I study past and contemporary theories that claim the death of the novel, focusing in particular on works by Nathalie Sarraute (L'Ère du soupçon), David Shields (Reality Hunger), and Alberto Arbasino (Certi romanzi). Through the analysis of specific texts – among others L'Enfant éternel by Philippe Forest, Signore delle lacrime by Antonio Franchini, and The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell – I claim that today's hybridization of the novel does not represent the end of the genre but, at the exact contrary, its great vitality.

Indexing (details)

Comparative literature;
Romance literature
0295: Comparative literature
0313: Romance literature
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; Franchini, Antonio; Hybrid narratives; Novel; Romanzo; Teoria
Tra fatto e verità: Narrazioni ibride e impegno
Palumbo Mosca, Raffaello
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
West, Rebecca
Committee member
Cherchi, Paolo; Steinberg, Justin; West, Rebecca
The University of Chicago
Romance Languages and Literatures
University location
United States -- Illinois
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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