Caesar, Ann (1984)
The Scapigliatura: experiments in narrative. Rovani, Tarchetti and Dossi.
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The thesis explores the diversity and experimentalism that typifies the narrative writings of the Scapigliatura. It offers a reading of key-texts by Rovani, Tarchetti and Dossi which focusses on the narrative techniques and structures which are used in the construction of meaning. Although critical attention addresses itself to the text and the narrative elements distinctive to it, it considers too the influence that context and circumstance exercise over the production of the work.
The introduction looks at the particular problems that Italian Unification of 1861 with its accompanying political and cultural changes brought to the writer. This is followed by the body of the thesis which is made up of readings of specific texts. Chapters 2 and 3 study Tarchetti's and Rovani's very different attempts to produce committed, didactic writing with the instruments of popular fiction and the devices of the feuilleton. The 4th chapter discusses Dossi's semi-autobiographical fiction, L'altrieri and Vita di Alberto Pisani, in which although here too the narrator interpellates the reader through the medium of the text, empirical questions relating to the reading-public and the political climate no longer present themselves. The fragmentation of text and self that is witnessed in Dossi's writing returns as a theme in the discussion of Tarchetti's racconti fantastici in the last of the genre-related chapters. Here the function of the fantastic is examined together with the narratological elements of the genre. The last two chapters take up one aspect of this: the assault the fantastic makes on our sense of the integrity of character. The textual construction of character is discussed in relationship to Tarchetti's novel Fosca, where it is inscribed as an unstable, ambivalent category dependent on who is employing the linguistic register at any given time, and Dossi's misogynistic treatise La desinenza in 'A' which has to find the devices to construct and sustain a reductionist image of all women as Woman fixed in a few immutable traits.
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Institution: University of London, Bedford College (United Kingdom).