Avventure del pensiero. Letteratura e conoscenza in Musil, Pirandello e Svevo (Adventures of Thought. Literature and Knowledge in Musil, Pirandello and Svevo)
Maddalena Graziano, born in Italy in 1986, graduated with honours from the University of Siena. She is a doctoral student at the FSGS since October 2013 and was a visiting student at the University of Chicago (Department of Germanic Studies, Spring 2015). Her Master's thesis on Musil and Svevo was awarded the Ursula Bavaj-Prize of the University of Viterbo, Istituto italiano di Studi Germanici, Associazione Italiana di Germanistica and Goethe Haus (2013). She is the author of the book Oltre il romanzo. Racconto e pensiero in Musil e Svevo (Carocci, 2013) and wrote on Svevo, Pirandello, Musil, Italian and German/Austrian modernist literature, and on contemporary literature and film (reviews for the journal Allegoria). She worked as editorial assistant for the peer-reviewed journal Moderna (2009-2013, editor in chief R. Luperini) and completed an internship at the Italian Cultural Institute of Hamburg (2012). Her research interests include Italian and German literature, European Modernism, novel theory, essay theory, literature and philosophy.
I work on the modernist novel and in particular on the sub-genre of the so-called novel-essay (essayistischer Roman), a modernist incarnation of the form of the ‘philosophical novel’. I investigate some of its formal features, as well as the theoretical anxieties it expresses, by focusing primarily on Italian and Austrian writers (Robert Musil, Italo Svevo, Luigi Pirandello).
Modernist writers are perplexed inspectors of any sort of fixed borders between styles, literary genres, and even disciplines. In my doctoral project, I focus on one of these: the ancient line that separates the world of narrative adventures, experienced by singular fictional beings, and the abstract world of thought, that seeks to tackle questions relevant to all of us. Proust, Musil, Broch, Mann are major examples of this modernist inclination to interweave narration and philosophical speculation. Philosophical issues do not just flow into their plots as topics discussed by the characters, but also fuel the very act of storytelling. The question raised by their works is thus a theoretical one: how can we articulate the relationship between literature and philosophical thought? Why do we turn to literature and especially to novels, along with abstract thought, when we need help to clarify aspects of our experience that appear to us as enigmatic and obscure?
In its own idiosyncratic way, Italian modernism participates in and adds to this interrogation too, as my thesis aims to show, examining the deep interplay between literary and philosophical dimensions in Pirandello’ and Svevo’s novels and their reflections on this topic in their theoretical notes. My purpose is to read the two Italian writers within the broader context of the typically high-modernist problem of art’s ‘becoming philosophical’ (R. Pippin). At the beginning of the 20th Century novels start telling thrilling adventures of knowledge and theories are not simply argued but lived by fictional beings, depicting the exuberance and puzzlements of thought, its impulses as well as its spasms and aporias.
M. Graziano, Oltre il romanzo. Racconto e pensiero in Musil e Svevo (Roma: Carocci, 2013)
M. Graziano, "Italo Svevo", in G. Ferroni Ed., Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero (Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani, 2018), pp. 588-596
M. Graziano, "I temi", in M. Tortora Ed., Il modernismo (Roma: Carocci, 2018), p. 113-131
M. Graziano, "Adventures of Thought. Fiction and Reflection in Modernist Italian Narrative", in M. Tortora, A. Volpone Eds., Borders of Modernism (Perugia: Morlacchi (CEMS Series), 2018), forthcoming
A. Goeschl, Die Logik des essayistischen Gedanken. Zur Analyse der italienischen Essayistik zwischen Fin de Siècle und Zweitem Weltkrieg vor dem Hintergrund der Gattungsgeschichte (2016), in Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift, 67.4, 2017, p. 481-484
Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, in Allegoria, XXVI, 69-70, 2014, p. 422
Ogni promessa by Andrea Bajani, in Allegoria, XXIII, 63, 2011, p. 212
L’ubicazione del bene by Giorgio Falco, in Allegoria, XXII, 62, 2010, p. 164
Indignation by Philip Roth, in Allegoria, XXII, 61, 2010, p. 203
"Narrare o riflettere? L'esitazione del pensiero in Musil e Svevo, Annual Conference of the Italian Comparative Literature Association, "Poteri della retorica", Parma, December 2013
"Adventures of Thought. Fiction and Reflection in Modernist Italian Narrative", International Conference of the Centre for European Modernism Studies, "Borders of Modernism", Perugia, December 2016
"Allegorie Zeit Montage. Benjamins Baudelairebuch", Lecture cum Seminar with Prof. Dr. C. Haerle (Siena), 19.05.2016 (with G. Cigna)
"The Novel, Human Sciences, and Democracy", Lecture with Prof. G. Mazzoni (Siena), 18.1.2017 (as part of the undergraduate course "Einfuehrung in die Romantheorie", Winter 2016/17)