Luci e ombre : Fantastico e sovversivo nella prosa narrativa di Massimo Bontempelli
Sammanfattning: Bearing in mind that the literary fantastic may function as a subversive mode of writing that questions the dominant society’s hierarchy of norms and values as well as its notions of truth and reality (Jackson), this dissertation studies the forms and functions of the fantastic in four narratives by Massimo Bontempelli’s (1878 – 1960). This is an argument that hitherto has not been the subject of any more thoroughgoing study by critics of this Italian author. In introducing a transgressive ideology in La scacchiera davanti allo specchio, Eva ultima and Il figlio di due madri, Bontempelli inverts and deconstructs the notions and values of the dominant society and then reconstructs an alternative hierarchy where the relationship between dominator and dominated is reversed. Phenomena such as male primacy, the adult world, culture and positivist anthropocentrism are deconstructed, while reconstruction concerns the feminine, the childlike, nature and the transcendental. This inversion of notions and values has implications outside the texts, inasmuch as the phenomena Bontempelli appreciated were in fact rejected by Italian fascist society in the 1920s and 1930s. In the fourth text, Vita e morte di Adria e dei suoi figli, the notions and values of the dominant society are still inverted but there is no reconstruction of an alternative ideology. To this extent this novel seems not only the most pessimistic of the texts examined, but also the most dialogical in a Bakhtinian sense, raising more questions than it answers and testifying to an awareness of an increasingly problematic and negative reality. As for the forms of the fantastic, two different types coexist in all four texts. On the one hand there is the luminous, exterior and substantially positive fantastic – realized in the poetics of magical realism that the author officially introduced in 1926; on the other hand, there is the dark, interiorized, terrifying and negative fantastic, akin to the fantastic of the gothic tradition. Besides emphasizing the subversive aspect of Bontempelli’s work, this dissertation shows how the originality of his use of the fantastic lies in his combination of magical realism with elements of the terrifying mode of the fantastic.
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