Stefano Giannini: 0000-0001-6589-0997
Alexandria of Egypt, memory, oblivion, nothingness, Vittorio Sereni, Giuseppe Ungaretti, nihilism, light, darkness
Arts and Humanities | Communication | East Asian Languages and Societies | English Language and Literature | European Languages and Societies | French and Francophone Language and Literature | German Language and Literature | Italian Language and Literature | Latin American Languages and Societies | Linguistics | Sign Languages | Slavic Languages and Societies | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature
The problematic relationship of Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) with Alexandria of Egypt – his city of birth – sheds light on the interplay between memory and oblivion in his poetry and prose. The shuttling back and forth between these poles marks the nature of his unfulfilled desire to recreate a lost Alexandrian atmosphere. In Ungaretti’s works, language opacity is coupled with his attempts to represent a city—as he writes—that is suffocated by the sun and whose hidden ancient port is submerged in the depth of the sea. Blinding light and the darkness of the deep waters make the understanding of Ungaretti’s Alexandria a delicate process. In a letter to his friend Ungaretti, Vittorio Sereni (1913-1983) writes that he is writing a poem, but he is blocked at the stage where Ungaretti’s poetry comes into play. Is Sereni referring to a specific Alexandrian poem? This article argues that Ungaretti’s presence in Sereni’s poems can be understood as a long process of reflection that, ultimately destabilizes any attempt to configure a one-sided understanding of memory. Yet, it explores memories’ capabilities to connect the voices of the past with those of the future.
Giannini, Stefano. “Memory and the Realization of the Nothingness: On a Letter from Vittorio Sereni to Giuseppe Ungaretti.” Forum Italicum, vol. 52, no. 1, May 2018, pp. 111–129, doi:10.1177/0014585817747260.
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