Mixing Memory and Desire: Leopardi Reading Petrarch (Giacomo Leopardi) (Critical Essay) - Annali d'Italianistica

Mixing Memory and Desire: Leopardi Reading Petrarch (Giacomo Leopardi) (Critical Essay)

By Annali d'Italianistica

  • Release Date - Published: 2004-01-01
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: Annali d'Italianistica
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Mixing Memory and Desire: Leopardi Reading Petrarch (Giacomo Leopardi) (Critical Essay) Annali d'Italianistica read online review & book description:

The essay proposes that Giacomo Leopardi remains the true heir to Petrarch's temporal anxiety. The temporal crisis faced by Petrarch, adumbrated first perhaps in Augustine's Confessions,problematizes past and future in relationship to the present of the speaking subject. While the trauma of transience will be written on the human body in the pages of the Rime sparse, Leopardi will move that anxiety out of the body and into language itself. The essay examines two aspects of Leopardi's complex filiation with Petrarch. On the one hand, Leopardi's brilliant commentary to the Canzoniere (1826) reveals an uncanny ventriloquism: Leopardi adapts the first person singular, becoming the alter ego of Petrarch, thus screening his own anxiety of influence. On the other hand, the marrow of the Canzoniere, its temporal anxiety, is directly absorbed into Leopardi's Canti; in these lyrics, as well as in the Zibaldone, Leopardi develops a theory of time, poetic re-figuration, memory and desire. Leopardi learns from Petrarch that experiences of past and future, figured as memory (rimembranza) and hope (speranza), are performative rhetorical constructions. Petrarch deals with temporal anxiety by constructing in his lyrics an "iterative present" tense: the lyric space of enunciation exists as a suspended present without time's corrosive effects. Leopardi, who repeatedly stated that the present could never be poetic, constructs an intricate system of figural transpositions which fill up the texual present, itself a void, with the affect of memory and desire. For both poets, beauty, bodies, and language inevitably reveal loss. **********

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