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Il soggetto corporale nella narrativa di Paolo Volponi
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of French, Italian and Classical Languages.
2009 (Italian)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis offers an interpretation of three novels by Paolo Volponi (1924-1994), focusing on the representation of the human subject. The analysis shows how this representation is centred on the experiences of the body, which becomes the true subject that acts and explores the world. It is argued that this narrative strategy allows the author to develop an original account of the modern condition and contributes to the innovative character of his writing. The method employed in the study shows how the corporal subject determines the plot, shapes the text through representation of perception, and carries central narrative meanings, and is thus crucial on all the levels of the novel’s organization.

In Memoriale, the problematic encounter of the subject with the new industrial reality is analyzed by focusing on the malady of the protagonist who is trapped between the countryside and the factory. This ambivalent position is seen as emblematic for the corporal subject in Volponi’s novels that is bound to nature and is a participant of history. The body emerges not only as decisive in the plot but also as the main object of writing and interpretation for the protagonist and the medical institutions. In Corporale, the protagonist loses contact with the surrounding reality; the only certainty that can be offered is in the suffering or euphoric body. The novel becomes a space where the protagonist rebels against his own historic condition and challenges the limits of the thinkable and of language, approaching the absurd. This subversion of reason is examined as a case of carnivalesque writing in Bakhtin’s sense, while the subject’s frequent states of extreme crisis are read in the light of Kristeva’s notion of abjection. The reading of Il sipario ducale is structured around the concept of chronotope, defined as a spatio-temporal interconnectedness. Each of the two chronotopes of the novel determines a particular type of corporal subject, while the ending is interpreted as the impossibility of tranquil existence outside the turmoil of history. This interpretation of Volponi’s narrative shows how by staging a subject whose body is central in the process of knowing and operating in the world, fiction both changes its character and contributes to a deeper understanding of modernity and its paradoxes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för franska, italienska och klassiska språk , 2009. , 210 p.
Forskningsrapporter / Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för franska och italienska: cahiers de la recherche, ISSN 1654-1294 ; 38
Keyword [en]
Volponi, Memoriale, Corporale, Il sipario ducale, narrative body, corporal subject, Marcuse, Bakhtin, Kristeva, Peter Brooks, carnivalesque, abjection, chronotope
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Specific Languages
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-8465ISBN: 978-91-85059-40-9OAI: diva2:200316
Public defence
2009-02-21, hörsal 7, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2009-01-30 Created: 2009-01-23 Last updated: 2010-10-21Bibliographically approved

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