Landscapes of Desire in the Poetry of Vittorio Sereni

ISBN : 9780199698455

Francesca Southerden
320 Pages
147 x 222 mm
Pub date
Jan 2012
Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs
Send mail

Landscapes of Desire in the Poetry of Vittorio Sereni is the first book-length study in English on Vittorio Sereni (1913-83), one of the major figures of Italian twentieth-century poetry. It argues that a key innovation of Sereni's poetry is constituted in the way in which, from Frontiera [Frontier] (1941) to Stella variabile [Variable Star] (1981), he reworks the boundaries of poetic space to construct a lyric 'I' radically repositioned in the textual universe with respect to its predecessors: an 'I' that is decentred, in limine, and struggles to subordinate the world to its point of view. Through an interdisciplinary framework that bridges psychoanalytic, linguistic, and poetic theory, two main dimensions of Sereni's work are revisited and reassessed. The first is the role of liminality, which is presented as a condition of writing and as the mark of a desiring subject whose most desired object is the complete poem or total identity that elude him. The second is Sereni's relationship to the Italian poetic tradition, including Dante, Petrarch, Leopardi, and Montale, who mediate his contact with a textual beyond that slips further and further from view. The study maps, through close-reading, the poet's evolving use of deictic reference (spatio-temporal coordinates, demonstratives, personal pronouns) and the progressive transformation of the poem into a place of frustrated desire that occludes fulfilment. It argues that Sereni's particular brand of experimentalism develops from this point and that he represents a unique moment in the history of twentieth-century Italian poetry in the way in which he adapts pre-existing models of lyric discourse to new modes of expression.


List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Assembling the Lyric Universe
1. Carte dell'io: Towards a Definition of Subjectivity in Sereni
2. Replotting the Textual landscape: The Role of Deixis in Frontiera and Gli strumenti umani
3. 'L'incerto lembo': Liminal Topographies from Montale to Sereni
4. Poetry as Desire-space: Petrarchan Ascendancies in Gli strumenti umani and Stella variabile
5. 'Memorie triste', 'passi perduti': The Melancholy Journey and the Return to Dante
6. 'Sei piu in la': The Destination of Poetry, the Limits of Identity
Appendix: Guide to Index of Archive Catalogue, Archivio Vittorio Sereni, Luino (VA)

About the author: 

Francesca Southerden is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at Wellesley College. She obtained her D.Phil. in Italian Literature from Hertford College, Oxford and afterwards held the post of Mary Ewart Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford (2007-2010). Her research interests include medieval and modern Italian poetry, especially Dante, Petrarch, and their legacy for the twentieth century; critical theory, especially psychoanalysis and the philosophy of language, and notions of space in literature. She has published several articles on the changing constellation of subjectivity, language, and desire in the work of Dante, Petrarch, and Sereni. She is co-editor, with Manuele Gragnolati, Tristan Kay, and Elena Lombardi, of Desire in Dante and the Middle Ages (Oxford: Legenda, forthcoming 2012).

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.