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Fictions of Appetite

Alimentary Discourses in Italian Modernist Literature


Enrico Cesaretti

Fictions of Appetite explores and investigates the aesthetic significance of images of food, appetite and consumption in a body of modernist literature published in Italian between 1905 and 1939. The corpus examined includes novels, short stories, poems, essays and plays by F.T. Marinetti, Aldo Palazzeschi, Massimo Bontempelli, Paola Masino and Luigi Pirandello. The book underlines the literary relevance and symbolic implications of the «culinary sign», suggesting a link between the crisis of language and subjectivity usually associated with modernism and figures of consumption and corporeal self-obliteration in «alimentary» discourse. In revisiting these works under label of modernism, which has traditionally been shunned in the Italian critical field, the volume brings critical discourse on early twentieth-century Italian literature closely into line with that of other Western literatures. The author argues that an alimentary perspective not only sheds striking new light on each of the texts examined, but also illustrates the signifying power of the culinary sign, its relations to the aesthetic sphere and its prominent role in the construction of a modernist sensibility.


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Chapter Two Modernist Effacements: Aldo Palazzeschi’s Consuming Bodies


Chapter Two Modernist Ef facements: Aldo Palazzeschi’s Consuming Bodies 2.1 Relieving Manoeuvres: Aldo Palazzeschi’s : rif lessi An artist is someone who refines himself out of existence. — James Joyce, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man The chances are that, if asked to name an epistolary novel from the first few decades of the twentieth century, even someone with an above-aver- age knowledge of modern Italian literature would fail to mention Aldo Palazzeschi’s 1908 text : rif lessi (to be read Due punti rif lessi),1 also known under the title Allegoria di novembre. So far, critical readings of the novel have failed to highlight its epistolary nature and, consequently, they have also left unexplored the interpretive implications this formal characteristic may suggest. They have chosen rather to concentrate on the other prominent characteristics of : rif lessi, such as the stylistic variants among the dif fer- ently titled texts, the decadent atmosphere evoked in its pages and, in more 1 The text consulted here is Aldo Palazzeschi, : rif lessi (Milan: SE, 1990), which includes the helpful postscript by L. De Maria “Il romanzo decadente di Aldo Palazzeschi.” The title comes from the poem “Gioco proibito,” contained in Lanterna (1907) and, as Maria C. Papini observes, “makes explicit the close connection between the two books” [i.e., the collection and the following novel]. See Maria C. Papini, “Aldo Palazzeschi, Remy de Gourmont: Un gioco di : rif lessi” in Rassegna della letteratura italiana, 101.1 ( January–April 1997), 116–30, (123). 104 Chapter Two recent...

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