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European Vistas

History, Ethics and Identity in the Works of Claudio Magris


Remko Smid

Claudio Magris is one of Italy’s – and Europe’s – most renowned thinkers and writers. He is considered an authority on central European literature and culture and is frequently interviewed about his hometown Trieste, the region called Mitteleuropa and the European Union. But what makes Magris such a relevant figure on the European literary scene?

European Vistas aims to answer this question by analysing the three most central elements in Magris’ novels – history, ethics and identity – in relation to contemporary Europe. His choice of particular histories are considered in terms of the ethical ideas and values that motivate him as well as the relevance of these stories for Europe. The book also explores Magris’ understanding and narration of identity and its potential for a transnational mode of identification, specifically within the European context. Ultimately, the author demonstrates why Magris’ ideas about history, ethics and identity are fundamental for Europe’s future.

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Introduction Crossing Borders



Crossing Borders

Claudio Magris (born in Trieste, 10 April 1939) is one of Italy’s and Europe’s most renowned thinkers and writers. Trained as a Germanist at the University of Turin, he has taught at the universities of Freiburg and Trieste. Magris debuted in 1963 with Il mito asburgico nella letteratura austriaca moderna [The Hapsburgian Myth in Modern Austrian Literature], followed by other essays such as Lontano da dove [Far from Where] (1971), Trieste. Un’identità di frontiera [Trieste. A Border Identity] (1982, with Angelo Ara), L’Anello di Clarisse [The Ring of Clarisse] (1984) and Quale totalità? [Which Totality?] (1985). In 1984 Magris, who until then had stuck to literary criticism, turned to fiction by publishing his first novel Illazioni su una sciabola (published in English under the title Inferences from a Sabre). In 1986 Danubio [Danube] followed, which is considered his most acclaimed work. Later novels include Un altro mare [A Different Sea] (1991), Microcosmi [Microcosms] (1997), Alla cieca [Blindly] (2005) and, most recently, Non luogo a procedere [Blameless] (2015). Magris has also published plays (Stadelmann in 1988, Le voci in 2007), a theatrical monologue (Lei dunque capirà in 2011) and frequently writes for Corriere della sera. These articles have been collected in works such as Itaca e oltre [Ithaca and Beyond] (1982), Utopia e disincanto [Utopia and Disenchantment] (1999), L’infinito viaggiare [Infinite Travelling] (2005) and La storia non è finita [History Has Not Ended] (2006). Moreover, Magris has been awarded numerous honorary degrees and literary prizes...

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