Eugenio Montale

A Poetics of Mourning

by Adele Bardazzi (Author)
©2023 Monographs 246 Pages


«Deeply versed in recent theoretical discussions of the lyric form in general and the elegy in particular, Adele Bardazzi also brings to bear queer thinking on temporality and philosophical treatments of mourning to shift the understanding of Montale’s verse, contesting the division between an early lyrical phase and a later ironic phase. A rich combination of sensitive readings and critical reflection.»
(Jonathan Culler, Cornell University, Author of Theory of the Lyric)

«In a series of carefully wrought readings of poems in which Montale writes of his lost loves, death, mourning, and his own quite particular vision of the afterlife, Adele Bardazzi both challenges traditional interpretations of Montalian poetic beloveds and offers her own convincing overview of the eschatological dimension of one of the twentieth century’s most essential bodies of verse. A surprisingly fresh take on a much-studied poet, this fine book gives new life to the realm of death in which Montale’s poetry of mourning is so tenaciously rooted.»
(Rebecca West, William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of Italian, University of Chicago)
«Adele Bardazzi’s book offers an original perspective on Montale’s work. The poetics of mourning allows on the one hand to read the text in the light of the theory of the lyric and, on the other hand, to highlight the importance of some figures in Montale’s poetry, through an evocative comparison with the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and that of Persephone.»
(Niccolò Scaffai, Associate Professor of Literary Criticism and Comparative Literature, University of Siena)
This book is as much about the living as it is about the dead. It investigates how the dead dwell in the world of the living and how that continuing relationship has inspired particular forms of poetic writing. It analyses how poetry assumes the key responsibility of voicing grief and thus creates a unique space in which the dead’s presence is sustained, in a constant state of potential transformation and renewal.
This monograph explores this topic with reference to one of the most important poets of the twentieth century, Eugenio Montale (1896–1981), and his principal collections, from Ossi di seppia (Cuttlefish Bones) (1925) to Quaderno di Quattro anni (Notebook of Four Years) (1977). These primary texts are enhanced by a critical framework that brings three different areas of enquiry into dialogue: scholarship on mourning, theories of the lyric, and feminist approaches. Questions explored include the following: How does mourning become a crucial creative and ethical force in literature? What kind of poetry draws on, and may even require, the presence of an absent female lyric addressee? How does this affect the nature of poetic discourses on mourning and lyric poetry more broadly? This book offers the first comprehensive study of Montale’s poetics of mourning accessible to both scholars in Italian Studies and scholars interested, more broadly, in modern poetry, discourses of mourning, and lyric theory.


ISBN (Softcover)
Eugenio Montale Italian Poetry Theory of the Lyric Genre Studies Elegy Poetry and Poetics Gender Studies Discourses of Mourning Adele Bardazzi
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2023. XVIII, 246 pp.

Biographical notes

Adele Bardazzi (Author)

Adele Bardazzi is Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Fellow in Italian at Trinity College, Dublin as well as Honorary Research Fellow at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary poetry, with a series of cross-disciplinary, comparative, and gender-orientated foci. In particular, her research interests are lyric poetry (with an emphasis on elegy), discourse on mourning and loss, issues of translation and self-translation, and the cross-fertilization between the verbal and the visual.


Title: Eugenio Montale