Leopardi's Nymphs
Grace, Melancholy, and the Uncanny

Fabio A. Camilletti

Italian Perspectives 28

Legenda

4 December 2013  •  198pp

ISBN: 978-1-907975-91-2 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85

ISBN: 978-1-351191-51-7 (Taylor & Francis ebook)

EnlightenmentItalianPoetry


How can one make poetry in a disenchanted age? For Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) this was the modern subject’s most insolvable deadlock, after the Enlightenment’s pitiless unveiling of truth. Still, in the poems written in 1828-29 between Pisa and the Marches, Leopardi manages to turn disillusion into a powerful source of inspiration, through an unprecedented balance between poetic lightness and philosophical density. The addressees of these cantos are two prematurely dead maidens bearing names of nymphs, and thus obliquely metamorphosed into the charmingly disquieting deities that in Greek lore brought knowledge and poetic speech through possession. The nymph, Camilletti argues, can be seen as the inspirational power allowing the utterance of a new kind of poetry, bridging antiquity and modernity, illusion and disenchantment, life and death. By reading Leopardi’s poems in the light of Freudian psychoanalysis and of Aby Warburg’s and Walter Benjamin’s thought, Camilletti gives a ground-breaking interpretation of the way Leopardi negotiates the original fracture between poetry and philosophy that characterizes Western culture.

Fabio Camilletti is Assistant Professor in Italian at the University of Warwick.

Reviews:

  • ‘La nuova e apparentemente inusuale costellazione concettuale che fa da impalcatura al libro si dimostra capace di portare alla luce, proprio nel suo essere lievemente sfasata rispetto alle categorie normalmente associate a Leopardi, risvolti inattesi tra le pieghe di un pensiero e di una poesia su cui pure si è venuta depositando una bibliografia sterminata. Per gli snodi teorici e problematici che evidenzia, per i confronti che intavola, il libro si rivela una lettura decisamente appassionante, dove anche le divagazioni più ardite non mancano di trovare spazio e giustificazione all’interno della tesi più generale che le inquadra.’ — Alessandra Aloisi, Oblio IV.16, January 2015, 111-13
  • ‘Camilletti not only convincingly answers the question of why Leopardi’s work still speaks to us so powerfully, but also demonstrates the need to reconfigure our understanding of the literary past and tradition in order to follow Walter Benjamin’s advice and 'brush history against the grain'.’ — Damiano Benvegnù, Annali d'Italianistica 32, 2014, 638-40
  • ‘Il saggio di Camilletti è il frutto maturo del profondo rinnovamento che gli studi leopardiani hanno vissuto negli ultimi anni, con l’apertura a diversi e inediti orizzonti interpretativi. Molto ci sarebbe da dire sulla ricchezza di letture e di analisi testuali, sempre puntuali, che spaziano dai testi poetici alla prosa filosofica, dagli scritti privati a quelli eruditi. Il lavoro di Camilletti non è di quelli che si possano circoscrivere a un territorio, piccolo o grande che sia; esso delinea invece un percorso dalle molte ramificazioni che mette in gioco, attraversando l’intera opera leopardiana, profonde tensioni e densi nuclei problematici.’ — Franco d'Intino, La Rassegna della Letteratura Italiana 118.2, December 2014, 668-70
  • ‘Leopardi studies have undergone a profound renewal in recent years, opening up the prospect of different, unprecedented, interpretative horizons. Fabio A. Camilletti’s monograph makes a substantial contribution to this renewal.’ — Franco d'Intimo, Modern Language Review 110.3, July 2015, 881-82 (full text online)

Bibliography entry:

Camilletti, Fabio A., Leopardi's Nymphs: Grace, Melancholy, and the Uncanny, Italian Perspectives, 28 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2013)

First footnote reference: 35 Fabio A. Camilletti, Leopardi's Nymphs: Grace, Melancholy, and the Uncanny, Italian Perspectives, 28 (Cambridge: Legenda, 2013), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Camilletti, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Camilletti, Fabio A.. 2013. Leopardi's Nymphs: Grace, Melancholy, and the Uncanny, Italian Perspectives, 28 (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Camilletti 2013: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Camilletti 2013: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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