Saltimbanco di fumo: evanescent art in Palazzeschi's early novels, Il codice di Perelà and Interrogatorio della contessa Maria

Leri, Alessandra Catherine, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

Before his death in 1974, Aldo Palazzeschi willed the creation of the Fondo Palazzeschi in the interest that his personal effects, letters, and documents remain in capable hands. Fourteen years later, Fabrizio Bagatti, curator of the Fondo Palazzeschi and leading authority on his works at the Università di Firenze, unearthed two curious manuscripts amidst the disordered vestiges of the writer's prolific literary career. These turned out to be drafts of Palazzeschi's unpublished novel, Interrogatorio della contessa Maria, neatly composed in the author's own hand. The title's imminent publication had been announced by the editor upon the distribution of La Piramide in 1926, but it failed to appear and remained an enigma until Bagatti's fortuitous discovery in 1988.

The resuscitation of the mysterious opus set the Italian publishing world abuzz with excitement and speculation. Had the author made a conscious decision not to release the novel, and if so, what had precipitated this choice? Bagatti advanced three conceivable theories to account for Palazzeschi's motivations, the first being that the author believed the work flawed; however, if that were the case he likely would have returned to edit it at some point in the subsequent 50 years. Secondly, he might have withheld the novel for fear of reproach given its erotic subject matter, but Bagatti discounts this notion as well, observing that Palazzeschi had already broached issues of sexuality in his earlier novels and in addition, Fascist censors were not yet in full force in 1926. The final hypothesis, the one to which Bagatti lends credence, suggests that the author purposely shelved the novel during his lifetime in order to stage a posthumous joke, the last message of a lifelong clown and "gran teorico di quella letteratura sospesa fra scherzo e capriccio, sovversione e fantasia." This literary prankster reveals his nature from Palazzeschi's earliest poetry, through which his name historically became synonymous with "incendiario" and "saltimbanco."

Palazzeschi produced highly imaginative works in a period of significant literary evolution in Europe. He only adhered officially to the Futurist movement from 1909 until 1914, preferring to dwell outside of any sort of artistic categories, even the seemingly least restrictive. Postulation of the reasons behind his decision to withhold Interrogatorio during his lifetime has the potential to shed light on his relationships with his own poetics and with contemporaneous literary movements.

MA (Master of Arts)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-14 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:35:56.

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: