Title The Idea of Modernity in Italian Literature at the Turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries
Author(s) Anastasia V. Golubtsova.
Information about the author(s) Anastasia V. Golubtsova, PhD, Senior Researcher, A. M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia. E-mail: ana1294@yandex.ru
Received July 15, 2016
Published September 25, 2016
Issue Vol. 1, no 1–2
Department World Literature
Pages 153-170
DOI DOI:10.22455/ 2500-4247-2016-1-1-2-153-170
UDK 821.131.1
BBK 83.3(4Ита)
Abstract The article analyzes various concepts of modernity in Italian literature at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Modernity is considered a key category of the literary process of the period: different views of modernity reveal philosophical, historical, and aesthetic ideas of the major authors and literary currents. The term modernity in its relation to Italy at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries may be understood in two different ways: as a specific time period after the unification of Italy and as an aesthetic ideal, both reachable and unreachable. Modernity as a historical period is inseparable from the sense of disappointment and awareness of Italian backwardness and provincialism. The Scapigliati manifest their socio-critical position as a Romantic conflict between individual and society, Verism represents the same idea as a tragic clash of traditional peasant world and modernity that is destroying it. Luigi Pirandello belongs to the same socio-critical tradition. The sense of weariness and decadence is one of the aspects of modern worldview: Gabriele D’Annunzio expresses it in the form of decadent aestheticism; the Crepusculars reject modernity and replace it with the idea of everyday life; Luigi Pirandello puts a special emphasis on the state of perplexity and confusion experienced by a modern man. From the aesthetic point of view, modernity in Italy begins as a struggle against Romanticism; however, here we encounter the controversial nature of the concept again. Giosue Carducci and the Scapigliati reject Italian Romanticism but turn to European Romanticism trying to overcome Italian cultural backwardness. A Verist writer Luigi Capuana elaborates a positivist ideal of modern literature and yet abandons it later. D’Annunzio sees the ideal of modern art in restoring cultural continuity. Futurists, on the contrary, understand modernity as breaking with tradition. Thus, all aesthetic interpretations of modernity in Italy focus on one intention — to overcome Italian backwardness and isolation and make Italy part of European culture again.
Keywords modernity, progress, Romanticism, Giosue Carducci, Scapigliatura, Verism, Gabriele D’Annunzio, the Crepusculars, Luigi Pirandello, Futurism.
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