Journal of Romance Studies

The idea of epic and New Italian Epic

Journal of Romance Studies (2010), 10, (1), 19–35.

Abstract

This article attempts to describe some characteristics of New Italian Epic (NIE), especially in relation to the epic mode itself. It aims to liberate the term ‘epic’ from the perception inherited from twentieth-century literary theory, and to reassess it as a component of NIE. The article shows how NIE interprets ‘epic’ as a way of rereading history critically by engendering new myths (mythopoesis), and how it conveys a desire for stories that encompass a search for historical truth. NIE is described as a corpus of new metahistorical romances for the contemporary moment, a tool that enables readers to take an active part in the construction of meaning within a society that seems to have progressively forgotten how to interpret data, to the detriment of historical truth. This is achieved through the recalling of events in the form of allegorical narratives, which, while they do not recount Italian historical facts as such, evoke real events by referring to what has been left unsaid in Italian history. This perspective involves the problematic question of realism, which leads, in this frame, to a search for truth and knowledge. Realism emerges as a pure textual fact, and thus parataxis no longer represents a rhetorical strategy to obtain mimesis. In NIE parataxis works as a basic element of epic narration, whose aim is to evoke. A number of examples from NIE novels are discussed in illustrating how this narrative strategy is created.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Auerbach, Eric (1956) Mimesis: il realismo nella letteratura occidentale, trans. Alberto Romagnoli (Turin: Einaudi). Mimesis: il realismo nella letteratura occidentale Google Scholar

Auerbach, Eric (1963) ‘Figura’, in Studi su Dante (Milan: Feltrinelli), 174–221. Figura Studi su Dante 174 221 Google Scholar

Bakhtin, Mikhail (1982) ‘Epic and novel’, in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Michael Holquist and Caryl Emerson (Austin: University of Texas Press), 3–40. Epic and novel The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays 3 40 Google Scholar

Belpoliti, Marco (2008) ‘La nuova moda del neorealismo non spiega la realtà’, La Stampa (7 August). La nuova moda del neorealismo non spiega la realtà La Stampa Google Scholar

Bertante, Alessandro (2008) Al diavul (Venice: Marsilio). Al diavul Google Scholar

Bloch, Ernst (1921) Thomas Münzer als Theologe der Revolution (Munich: Wolff). Thomas Münzer als Theologe der Revolution Google Scholar

Boatti, Giorgio (2009) Piazza Fontana. 12 dicembre 1969: il giorno dell’innocenza perduta (Turin: Einaudi). Piazza Fontana. 12 dicembre 1969: il giorno dell’innocenza perduta Google Scholar

Cipriani, Gianni (2002) Lo stato invisibile: storia dello spionaggio in Italia dal dopoguerra ad oggi (Milan: Sperling & Kupfer). Lo stato invisibile: storia dello spionaggio in Italia dal dopoguerra ad oggi Google Scholar

De Michele, Girolamo (2008) La visione del cieco (Turin: Einaudi). La visione del cieco Google Scholar

Di Stefano, Paolo (2008) ‘Ecco il manifesto della “Nuova Epica”’, Corriere della sera (13 May). Ecco il manifesto della “Nuova Epica” Corriere della sera Google Scholar

Dumézil, George (1973) Gods of the Ancient Northmen, ed. Einar Haugen (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press). Gods of the Ancient Northmen Google Scholar

Elias, Amy J. (2001) Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press). Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction Google Scholar

Eliot, Thomas S., (1971) [1923] The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Draft Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound, ed. and introd. Valerie Eliot (New York: Harcourt Brace and Co.). The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Draft Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound Google Scholar

Evangelisti, Valerio, Giuseppe Genna and Wu Ming (2004) Il caso Battisti: l’emergenza infinita e i fantasmi del passato (Rimini: NdA Press). Il caso Battisti: l’emergenza infinita e i fantasmi del passato Google Scholar

Fois, Marcello (1993) Meglio morti (Turin: Einaudi). Meglio morti Google Scholar

Foot, John (2009) Fratture d’Italia (Milan: Rizzoli). Fratture d’Italia Google Scholar

Fulginiti, Valentina (2009) ‘Aedi, rapsodi, contastorie : intorno all’oralità del New Epic’, http://www.carmillaonline.com/archives/2009/05/003044.html#003044 [accessed 11 August 2009]. Google Scholar

Ganeri, Margherita (1999) Il romanzo storico in Italia: il dibattito critico dalle origini al postmoderno (Lecce: Manni). Il romanzo storico in Italia: il dibattito critico dalle origini al postmoderno Google Scholar

Genna, Giuseppe (2006) Dies irae (Milan: Rizzoli). Dies irae Google Scholar

Genna, Giuseppe (2008) Italia De Profundis (Rome: Minimum fax). Italia De Profundis Google Scholar

Genna, Giuseppe (2009) ‘Everyman di Philip Roth: il tragico nel romanzo e l’impossibilità del romanzo tragico’, http://www.giugenna.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/everyman1.pdf [accessed 3 December 2009]. Google Scholar

Ginsborg, Paul (2003a) A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943–1988 (London: Palgrave Macmillan). A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943–1988 Google Scholar

Ginsborg, Paul (2003b) Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State: 1980-2001 (London: Palgrave Macmillan). Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State: 1980-2001 Google Scholar

Guénon, Renée (2002) Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines (Hillsdale NY: Sophia Perennis). Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines Google Scholar

Guénon, Renée (2004) Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta (Hillsdale NY: Sophia Perennis). Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta Google Scholar

Hainsworth, J. B. (1991) The Idea of Epic (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press). The Idea of Epic Google Scholar

Hutcheon, Linda (1988) Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (New York: Routledge). Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction Google Scholar

James, Cyril L. R. (1952) Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in (Hanover NH: University Press of New England). Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in Google Scholar

Jones, Babsi (2007) Sappiano le mie parole de sangue (Milan: Rizzoli). Sappiano le mie parole de sangue Google Scholar

Levy, Gertrude R. (1953) The Sword from the Rock (London: Faber). The Sword from the Rock Google Scholar

Lucarelli, Carlo (1993) Falange armata (Turin: Einaudi). Falange armata Google Scholar

Luperini, Romano (2005) La fine del postmoderno (Naples: Guida). La fine del postmoderno Google Scholar

Luther Blissett (1999) Q (Turin: Einaudi). Q Google Scholar

McCaffery, Larry (1993) ‘An interview with David Foster Wallace’, The Review of Contemporary Fiction 13.2, 127–50. An interview with David Foster Wallace The Review of Contemporary Fiction 13.2 127 50 Google Scholar

Macchiavelli, Loriano (1974) Le piste dell’attentato (Milan: Campironi). Le piste dell’attentato Google Scholar

Oliva, Carlo (2003) Storia sociale del giallo (Lugano: Todaro). Storia sociale del giallo Google Scholar

Poroli, Fabio (2009) ‘“Sovversione sottile” della lingua e New Italian Epic: appunti e proposte’, http://www.carmillaonline.com/archives/2009/04/003019.html#003019 [accessed 11 August 2009]. Google Scholar

Rambelli, Loris (1979) Storia del giallo italiano (Milan: Garzanti). Storia del giallo italiano Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul (2004) Memory, History, Forgetting (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press). Memory, History, Forgetting Google Scholar

Saviano, Roberto (2006) Gomorra: viaggio nell’impero economico e nel sogno di dominio della camorra (Milan: Mondadori). Gomorra: viaggio nell’impero economico e nel sogno di dominio della camorra Google Scholar

Scerbanenco, Giorgio (1966) Venere privata (Milan: Garzanti). Venere privata Google Scholar

Scurati, Antonio (2009) ‘L’epica è rediviva e lotta insieme a noi’, La Stampa-Tuttolibri (7 February), III. L’epica è rediviva e lotta insieme a noi La Stampa-Tuttolibri Google Scholar

Tait, Marion (1943) ‘The tragic philosophy of the Iliad’, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 74, 49–59. The tragic philosophy of the Iliad Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 74 49 59 Google Scholar

Von Hendy, Andrew (2002) The Modern Construction of Myth (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). The Modern Construction of Myth Google Scholar

Wu Ming (2002) 54 (Turin: Einaudi). 54 Google Scholar

Wu Ming (2007) Manituana (Turin: Einaudi). Manituana Google Scholar

Wu Ming (2009) New Italian Epic: letteratura, sguardo obliquo, ritorno al futuro (Turin: Einaudi). New Italian Epic: letteratura, sguardo obliquo, ritorno al futuro Google Scholar

Auerbach, Eric (1956) Mimesis: il realismo nella letteratura occidentale, trans. Alberto Romagnoli (Turin: Einaudi). Mimesis: il realismo nella letteratura occidentale Google Scholar

Auerbach, Eric (1963) ‘Figura’, in Studi su Dante (Milan: Feltrinelli), 174–221. Figura Studi su Dante 174 221 Google Scholar

Bakhtin, Mikhail (1982) ‘Epic and novel’, in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Michael Holquist and Caryl Emerson (Austin: University of Texas Press), 3–40. Epic and novel The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays 3 40 Google Scholar

Belpoliti, Marco (2008) ‘La nuova moda del neorealismo non spiega la realtà’, La Stampa (7 August). La nuova moda del neorealismo non spiega la realtà La Stampa Google Scholar

Bertante, Alessandro (2008) Al diavul (Venice: Marsilio). Al diavul Google Scholar

Bloch, Ernst (1921) Thomas Münzer als Theologe der Revolution (Munich: Wolff). Thomas Münzer als Theologe der Revolution Google Scholar

Boatti, Giorgio (2009) Piazza Fontana. 12 dicembre 1969: il giorno dell’innocenza perduta (Turin: Einaudi). Piazza Fontana. 12 dicembre 1969: il giorno dell’innocenza perduta Google Scholar

Cipriani, Gianni (2002) Lo stato invisibile: storia dello spionaggio in Italia dal dopoguerra ad oggi (Milan: Sperling & Kupfer). Lo stato invisibile: storia dello spionaggio in Italia dal dopoguerra ad oggi Google Scholar

De Michele, Girolamo (2008) La visione del cieco (Turin: Einaudi). La visione del cieco Google Scholar

Di Stefano, Paolo (2008) ‘Ecco il manifesto della “Nuova Epica”’, Corriere della sera (13 May). Ecco il manifesto della “Nuova Epica” Corriere della sera Google Scholar

Dumézil, George (1973) Gods of the Ancient Northmen, ed. Einar Haugen (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press). Gods of the Ancient Northmen Google Scholar

Elias, Amy J. (2001) Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press). Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction Google Scholar

Eliot, Thomas S., (1971) [1923] The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Draft Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound, ed. and introd. Valerie Eliot (New York: Harcourt Brace and Co.). The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Draft Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound Google Scholar

Evangelisti, Valerio, Giuseppe Genna and Wu Ming (2004) Il caso Battisti: l’emergenza infinita e i fantasmi del passato (Rimini: NdA Press). Il caso Battisti: l’emergenza infinita e i fantasmi del passato Google Scholar

Fois, Marcello (1993) Meglio morti (Turin: Einaudi). Meglio morti Google Scholar

Foot, John (2009) Fratture d’Italia (Milan: Rizzoli). Fratture d’Italia Google Scholar

Fulginiti, Valentina (2009) ‘Aedi, rapsodi, contastorie : intorno all’oralità del New Epic’, http://www.carmillaonline.com/archives/2009/05/003044.html#003044 [accessed 11 August 2009]. Google Scholar

Ganeri, Margherita (1999) Il romanzo storico in Italia: il dibattito critico dalle origini al postmoderno (Lecce: Manni). Il romanzo storico in Italia: il dibattito critico dalle origini al postmoderno Google Scholar

Genna, Giuseppe (2006) Dies irae (Milan: Rizzoli). Dies irae Google Scholar

Genna, Giuseppe (2008) Italia De Profundis (Rome: Minimum fax). Italia De Profundis Google Scholar

Genna, Giuseppe (2009) ‘Everyman di Philip Roth: il tragico nel romanzo e l’impossibilità del romanzo tragico’, http://www.giugenna.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/everyman1.pdf [accessed 3 December 2009]. Google Scholar

Ginsborg, Paul (2003a) A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943–1988 (London: Palgrave Macmillan). A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943–1988 Google Scholar

Ginsborg, Paul (2003b) Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State: 1980-2001 (London: Palgrave Macmillan). Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State: 1980-2001 Google Scholar

Guénon, Renée (2002) Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines (Hillsdale NY: Sophia Perennis). Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines Google Scholar

Guénon, Renée (2004) Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta (Hillsdale NY: Sophia Perennis). Man and His Becoming according to the Vedanta Google Scholar

Hainsworth, J. B. (1991) The Idea of Epic (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press). The Idea of Epic Google Scholar

Hutcheon, Linda (1988) Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (New York: Routledge). Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction Google Scholar

James, Cyril L. R. (1952) Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in (Hanover NH: University Press of New England). Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in Google Scholar

Jones, Babsi (2007) Sappiano le mie parole de sangue (Milan: Rizzoli). Sappiano le mie parole de sangue Google Scholar

Levy, Gertrude R. (1953) The Sword from the Rock (London: Faber). The Sword from the Rock Google Scholar

Lucarelli, Carlo (1993) Falange armata (Turin: Einaudi). Falange armata Google Scholar

Luperini, Romano (2005) La fine del postmoderno (Naples: Guida). La fine del postmoderno Google Scholar

Luther Blissett (1999) Q (Turin: Einaudi). Q Google Scholar

McCaffery, Larry (1993) ‘An interview with David Foster Wallace’, The Review of Contemporary Fiction 13.2, 127–50. An interview with David Foster Wallace The Review of Contemporary Fiction 13.2 127 50 Google Scholar

Macchiavelli, Loriano (1974) Le piste dell’attentato (Milan: Campironi). Le piste dell’attentato Google Scholar

Oliva, Carlo (2003) Storia sociale del giallo (Lugano: Todaro). Storia sociale del giallo Google Scholar

Poroli, Fabio (2009) ‘“Sovversione sottile” della lingua e New Italian Epic: appunti e proposte’, http://www.carmillaonline.com/archives/2009/04/003019.html#003019 [accessed 11 August 2009]. Google Scholar

Rambelli, Loris (1979) Storia del giallo italiano (Milan: Garzanti). Storia del giallo italiano Google Scholar

Ricoeur, Paul (2004) Memory, History, Forgetting (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press). Memory, History, Forgetting Google Scholar

Saviano, Roberto (2006) Gomorra: viaggio nell’impero economico e nel sogno di dominio della camorra (Milan: Mondadori). Gomorra: viaggio nell’impero economico e nel sogno di dominio della camorra Google Scholar

Scerbanenco, Giorgio (1966) Venere privata (Milan: Garzanti). Venere privata Google Scholar

Scurati, Antonio (2009) ‘L’epica è rediviva e lotta insieme a noi’, La Stampa-Tuttolibri (7 February), III. L’epica è rediviva e lotta insieme a noi La Stampa-Tuttolibri Google Scholar

Tait, Marion (1943) ‘The tragic philosophy of the Iliad’, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 74, 49–59. The tragic philosophy of the Iliad Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 74 49 59 Google Scholar

Von Hendy, Andrew (2002) The Modern Construction of Myth (Bloomington: Indiana University Press). The Modern Construction of Myth Google Scholar

Wu Ming (2002) 54 (Turin: Einaudi). 54 Google Scholar

Wu Ming (2007) Manituana (Turin: Einaudi). Manituana Google Scholar

Wu Ming (2009) New Italian Epic: letteratura, sguardo obliquo, ritorno al futuro (Turin: Einaudi). New Italian Epic: letteratura, sguardo obliquo, ritorno al futuro Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Boscolo, Claudia