Variants on Loss and Silence in Leopardi
The Leopardi Centre at Birmingham, University of Birmingham (UK), sponsors the Study day on 15 February 2011.
The entries ‘loss’ (perdita) and ‘mourning’ (lutto) are missing from the analytical index of Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone di pensieri (and from Leopardi’s own indexes too); perhaps not so surprisingly, as the rubrics ‘pleasure’ and ‘suffering’ with their multiple subheadings (including Teoria del piacere, and Piacere nella disperazione e nel dolore) seem to already encapsulate in many ways the other two motifs. From his earliest poetic writings – ‘La morte di Ettore’, the drafted tragedy ‘Maria Antonietta’, and the ‘Argomenti di elegie’, to name but a few – Leopardi drew on these motifs for inspiration. However, loss and mourning are not only present in his work as marks and echoes of death, lending themselves to set up a human drama. They also are, to a large extent, metaphors for silence: the silence of individuals’ and people’s histories, but also the dazzling silence with which humans respond to overwhelming feelings: “Il silenzio è il linguaggio di tutte le forti passioni, dell’amore […] dell’ira, della maraviglia, del timore ec.” says Leopardi in the Zibaldone. Furthermore, in positing that “le ragioni e maniere occulte dell’esistenza […] noi non conosciamo nè intendiamo punto, […] neppur quanto alla nostra specie e al nostro proprio individuo”, Leopardi also insinuates that silence marks the impossibility for the human mind, and, accordingly for language, of capturing the ultimate meaning of man’s existence.
The still night to which Brutus relinquishes his body and his identity, the silent shore that will receive Saffo’s corpse, the planet earth, noiseless with the extinguished human race, with which Hercules and Atlas play, the mummies’ mute reply to the last question of Ruysch, the quietness of the desert where the broom disperses its perfume, are ultimately different manifestations of the themes of loss and mourning, and of the adjoined motifs of silence, lack, absence, nothingness, anguish, grief and sorrow that inform Leopardi’s uninterrupted reflection upon the essence of human life. By pervading Leopardi’s works, they offer a vast umbrella under which to bring together research into the poet-thinker of Recanati.
Themes of loss and mourning, and of the adjoined motifs of silence, lack, absence, nothingness, anguish, grief and sorrow that inform Leopardi’s uninterrupted reflection upon the essence of human life. By pervading Leopardi’s works, they offer a vast umbrella under which to bring together research into the poet-thinker of Recanati.
Tuesday 15 February 2011
Muirhead Tower 113
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Emanuela Tandello (Christchurch, Oxford)
10.00-11.00 Session One
Glosses on the Margin of Leopardi’s Materialism
Cosetta Veronese, University of Birmingham
Leopardi e la questione dell’anima: origine, essenza, destino
Roberto Lauro, Università di Napoli, Istituto di studi storici di Napoli
11.30-12.30 Session Two
What it means to lose a Thought in Leopardi’s Zibaldone
Stefano Versace, University of Strathclyde
“Ripeness is all”: antitesi e sintesi nella Bildung leopardiana
Simona Larghetti, University of Bologna
14.30-15.30 Keynote Speech
Elegy in Leopardi
Dr. Emanuela Tandello, Christchurch, Oxford
16.00-17.00 Session Three
Leopardi in English
Tradurre Leopardi in Portoghese
Andreia Guerini, Universidade Federal de Santa Caterina, Brasil