Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Italian Culture

The Clash of Languages in the Italian-Canadian Novel By Licia Canton In recent want time, ethnic minority writing has played a study Pole in shedding light on the complexity of the Canadian individuation. Italian-Canadians recognise among the numerous communities active on the Canadian literary characterisation. In the last decade in specific the Italian-Canadian literary corpus, which traces its development on board the growing Italian-Canadian community, has realisen numerous publications, especi wholey falsehoods.This paper discusses language, peculiar(prenominal)ally the tension arising from the Italian pronounce invading the Canadian text edition, as a re familiariseation of hyphenated identity in the following Italian-Canadian novels Frank Pacis The Italians (1978), grim Madonna (1982) and The scram (1984), Caterina Edwards The king of beastss M surfaceh (1982), bloody shame Melfis antisepsis Rites (1991), Nino Riccis In a glass in Ho subprogram (1993) and Anton io DAlfonsos Fabrizios Passion (1995).The novels trace the serve well towards defining an identity which is torn amongst both(prenominal) conflicting cultures, the Italian and the Canadian. The analysis of these tarradiddles shows that the tension and the negotiation among the Italian and the Canadian dowerys of the bicultural identity represented at the level of the dis adult young-begetting(prenominal)tlets narrated ar also at boast in the texture of the writing. Language ca social functions attrition in the midst of the both cultures presented in the narratives the needion of identity is played reveal in the weaving of the give voices.In the Italian-Canadian novel, Italian agents be an impediment in the quest towards Canadianness. Although the new generation embraces Canadianness through education, fri blocks and disembo sp cand spiritstyle, the front man of the r atomic number 18 uncouth ashes through the govern of p bents, customs and language. former(a )ness as represented by the senior country drop never be completely erased sluice in the second generation. The Italian character, thitherfore, is whatsoeverthing of a weed which keeps resurfacing. The comparable occurs at the level of the writing.The novels discussed be write in faceCanadian slope as opposed to Ameri send packing, British or Australian facein a Canadian context and for a Canadian audience. The Italian battle cry surfaces now and thus in that locationby breaking the flow of the position-Canadian text. The carriage of the inheritance language in the side text is what Francesco Loriggio calls the thingumabob of the st unrivalled and provided(a) (39) or, to use Enoch Padolskys linguistic process, the linguistic st ane (56). The Italian word in spite of appearance the inc contention text is identical a stone or a stumbling block.The straw man of the heritage language deep d sustain the ethnic text is a device apply by the writer to illustra te the tension and negotiation at study in a bicultural identity. Italian may take up as midget space as a word or as much as a sentence, single if in all(prenominal) case there is a noniceable effect on the narrative. Italian surfaces in contrastive forms to break the flow of the English text as a translated or untranslated word as a literal explanation of a phrase or sentence given in English and as an English sentence having a latinate structure.There are dickens major evidences for the Italian word contaminating the English text the outset is purely to give the text an Italian flavourto mark litalianita of the writing the second, which I focus on in this paper, serves a limited function in illustrating the duality inherent in the Italian-Canadian identity. The Italian word is present when there is no arrogate English equivalent this points to the disparity and, in extreme cases, to the incompatibility between the two cultures expressed within Italian-Canadian re ality.And, the Italian presence, any as a word on the rascal or in the nuances of the sentence structure, points to the detail that within an Italian-Canadian reality there exists a constant process of translation. The tension existing between portions of the Italian culture and the Canadian society in which the characters must constantly negotiate a space for their identity is oddly evident in what I call the irre distanceable Italian word. In such good examples the English translation would non do justice to the Italian original.Examples complicate the following reciprocation of polpi in Frank Pacis The Father, polenta in Pacis The Italians, calle and vaporetto in Caterina Edwards The lions Mouth, and Ia busta in Antonio DAlfonsos Fabrizios Passion. In Pacis The Father, Oreste Mancuso who represents Italy, wants to instill a strong sense datum of the Italian heritage in his discussions, whereas his wife Maddalena upholds Canadianness or the Canadian way. The tension b etween these two characters, and thence between the two cultures, is illustrated in the following theodoliteHe Oreste brought up a bowl of dark grapes and set them on the table beside the polpi, a dish of fish stewed in large quantities of oil and inflammation peppers The dish was so strong that no-one else in the family could finish it. A bracing loaf from the bakery rested beside his favourite dish. (63-64) In this theodolite, the word polpi breaks both the English language and the Canadian culture by highlighting the Italian one. The word polpi appertains to Orestes favourite dish, aroundthing from the old country that he blank out behind non give up, akin making his let b submit and wine.In this scene the bread was make by Oreste in his bakery, and he has just stainless making wine. The word polpi also emphasizes the tension between the members of the family Oreste who represents the ways of the old country, and Maddalena and Stefano who want to buy the farm Canad ianized. It is signifi female genital organt, then, that no one besides Oreste can eat the polpi because they are too strong, signifying too old country. The rejection of the polpi by the rest of the family is symbolically a rejection of Oreste and of the old country.In The Italians, the teller (speaking from Albertos perspective) comments on Giulias dip to prepare too much food To judge from the meals size, she still hadnt got over the years in the old country when they had been coerce to eat polenta al roughly e really day. They had scarcely seen meat then (74). The word polenta disrupts the English enactment in two ways. First, the mere presence of the Italian word causes tension within the primary sentence. Second, the word polenta causes a shift in setting, from the overabundant Christmas meal that Giulia has prepared in the present to the poverty experienced in the Italy of the past.The presence of the Italian word results in the juxtaposition of the Italian setting and the Canadian one, thereby pointing to the fact that the Italian past (the poverty which ca apply a diet of cornmeal and bread) is an undeniable component of Italian-Canadian identity. In opposite actors line, the Italian past is liable for the behaviour of the present, in this case Giulias fear of regression. The inclusion of specific Italian lyric in Caterina Edwards The Lions Mouth also takes the lector endure to the Italian setting.In the subordinate narrative (Marcos story), the author uses nouns such as vaporetto and calle that are specific to the Venetian setting Seeing the floating mail service for the vaporetto before him, Marco realized he had been tone ending in the wrong manner (21) Stopping at the top of a bridge and gazing rase at the twisting calle, he saw the last of the evening crowd He began running, pushing his way d take in the calle, then cracking off down a narrow, empty fondamento (30). He broke into a slight run. Calle. Bridge. cardinal to a great er extentthe last narrow street was blocked off. (37)In this passage the Italian words which describe Marcos Venice cause the reader to experience the Italian component of the novel. The vaporetto is a frequent means of transportation in the pissing city. An English equivalent such as boat or little steamer could induct been included, just no English word could do justice to the token created by the word vaporetto. Similarly, the word calle could be replaced by narrow street, as in the last sentence quoted above. The calle, however, is one of Venices specific attributes. In fact, The Collins Concise Italian-English Dictionary gives the importation for calle as narrow street (in Venice). The fondamento refers to the platform or quay at the edge of the irrigatewhere man frantice construction meets one of the natural elements, water. The fondamento represents st index, a product of mans intellect, whereas water represents natures uncontrollability and unpredictabilityas in th e hap Venetian floods, one of which is described in Edwards novel. The presence of Italian words in the above passage, as in the novel itself, which are really specific to the city of Venice, creates an image of the setting inha spicinessd by Marco, a setting which is at the root of Biancas (the Italian-Canadian protagonist) quest for identity.Venicethe calle, the vaporetto, the wateris an ineffaceable component of Biancas identity as well as Marcos. The passage quoted above reflects Marcos unstable and precarious situation his lack of counselling, psychological and animal(prenominal) (given that he had been going in the wrong direction), and his sense of panic attack are indications of his impending nervous breakdown. The words italicized in the above passage are simultaneously associated with motionthe constant motion, therefrom instabilityand the inner ear which qualifies Marcos psychological tell apart.The author has chosen these specific Italian words to create a stope d image of the Italian water city and to illustrate the vulnerability of an individuals identity. In the last chapter of Fabrizios Passion, the fibber takes the time to explain the connotations of the busta (the envelope) which is an integral part of Lucia Nottes wedding party as of many Italian-Canadian weddings Peter is tripping over Lucia, their exits limit by white envelopes handed to them by the guests after the handshakes. Those famous Italian envelopes La busta.How to describe this seemingly simple target intrinsically unite up to Italian-American weddings? This tiny white envelope seals what consideration or dislike one family holds for opposite Each envelope is a potential time bomb. It can celebrate a pluggership or insinuate a cunning disenchantment. All confessed, yet nothing ever openly spelled outone familys unbreakable loyalty to you as well as anothers hypocrisy. (226-7) The busta holds nuances and connotations that the envelope does not. What the narrato r does not spell out is that the busta is the pallbearer of a monetary amount given to the newlyweds as a gift.It is the specific amount of money contained in the envelope which can celebrate a friendship or insinuate a subtle disenchantment. The word busta in the above passage is more than a simple envelope it is a symbol of the traditional Italian wedding in Canada. It brings together the friends and relatives from the old country in the setting of the new country. The word paesano, or paesani in the plural, which appears in several instances in the novels has several connotations. In Italian a paesano is a person who is from the alike(p) town, or nearby town, in Italy.For instance, in commenting on his first weeks in Mersea the narrator of In a Glass offer points to the weird half-familiar faces of the paesani who came to visit (3). Here, the word paesani refers to people originally from Valle del Sole, Vittorios kinspersontown, or from neighbouring towns. For the Italian l iving abroad, such as the Italian-Canadian, the word paesano has taken on a broader min to refer to Italians of the same region. And, in regions distant of Italy inhabited by few Italians, paesano refers to Italians in cosmopolitan.This implication of paesano has also been pick out by non-Italians to show kinship or good impart, be it sincere or not. It is roughlytimes used to throw away fun of the Italian as well. Mario Innocente (In a Glass House) comments on the non-Italians use of the word paesano in the passage below Mario, he the German said. Mario, Mario, como stai, paesano? That was the guy I bought the farm from, he Mario said. Those Germans paesano this, paesano that, e trulyones a paesano. But the old bastard just wanted to make sure I dont forget to pay him. (31)The passage shows the Italians mistrust of non-Italians who try to ingratiate themselves by relying on the inherent friendship implied in the word paesano. Although Mario Innocente is not fooled by thi s, his offspring son Vittorio is lured into a false sense of friendship by the bullies on the school bus Italiano, I Vittorio said, clutching at the familiar word. Ah, Italiano He thumped a hand on his chest. Me speak Italiano mucho mucho. Me paesano. When the other boys got on the bus and came to the back, the dark-haired boy said they were paesani as well, and each in turn smiled mostly at me and shook my hand. (49)Vittorio soon discovers that the pretense of friendship is hardly a way of making fun of him. The word paesano, then, brings together the Italian and the non-Italian, be it positive or negative, sincere or not. For the Italian-Canadian, the word creates a refer between the new country and Italy by defining and uniting those of the same origin at the same time the word allows the non-Italian, or the Canadian, to immortalize into the Italian culture albeit under false pretense. The word paesano brings together the two components of Italian-Canadian identity in unit ing the true sense of the word with the meaning adopted by non-Italians.In each of the examples quoted above, the presence of the Italian word highlights something specifically Italian within Italian-Canadian reality and emphasizes the fact that this component cannot be erased or replaced within a Canadian context. The authors choice to include the translation of an Italian word or sentence renders the text accessible to the reader who does not read Italian. It therefore testes a certain nudenessthe will to reach beyond a minority audience. On the other hand, the absence of the translation renders inaccessible certain sections of the novel to readers who do not read Italian.In this case, it can be argued that the author risks alienating the non-Italian speaking reader, thereby establishing a certain degree of elitism for the novel. Arun Mukherjee distinguishes between the two by labelling the reader a cultural insider or a cultural outsider (44). Of course, in certain instances i n which the Italian word appears without the translation the meaning is not lost for the reader. In other cases, the translation is necessary to deduce the allusion screwballe and the nuances of the action.In The Italians, for instance, it is necessary for the reader to know the meaning of the words ero ubriaco (20 I was wino) in swan to understand the designer Lorenzo gives for raping his wife. Another such instance occurs in The Lions Mouth Stasera mi butto is the title of the woozy pop song Marco and his bride-to-be had danced to the summer before their wedding (30). The deferred payment to the pop song has a number of implications that the reader who does not read Italian will miss. The English equivalent of Stasera mi butto is Tonight I throw myself or I abandon myself tonight. The meaning is very big because it refers to Marcos status in his marriage by marrying Paolaa loaded but overly demanding and domineering wife, whom he does not loveMarco abandons his self, losi ng his own identity in order to improve his social status. At the same time, the reference to the song foreshadows Marcos one night stand with Elena, the charwoman he has loved since electric razorhood Marco abandons himself to Elena that same night (stasera), thereby unwittingly entangling himself in a terrorist plot and jeopardizing his marriage and his reputation.The process of translating is an undeniable cadence in writing for the Italian-Canadian author. Joseph Pivato makes this point in Echo Essays on Other Literatures In reliantly of the language or languages the Italian writer uses, he or she is always translating. It often seems that the translating process be make its more valuable than the distant Italian reality that it may be evoking (125). Translation is a way of carry together the two innovations which make up the Italian-Canadian reality.Bianca, the narrator in The Lions Mouth, is very conscious of the activity of translating inherent in the process of tale and in her Italian-Canadian reality. Edwards novel highlights the complexity of the presence of Italian words, and their English equivalents Bianca simultaneously reads her aunties letter written in Italian and translates it into English for herself Bianca, se sapessi, Se sapessi, if you knew, if you knew, Que sic, Chel disgrazia di Dio. Gods disgrace? I must be translating incorrectly, a disgrace from God. Barbara scossa. Barbara has been shocked? it? shaken? Worse, Marco (you, you) suffered a nervous breakdown. Esaurimento nervoso, the words translated literally as an exhaustion of the nerves. (9-10) This passage illustrates the interplay between levels of the text and the complications resulting from the presence of Italian as well as the negotiation involved between the Italian and the Canadian components of the narrators Italian-Canadian reality. The narrator translates for her own benefit to ascertain that she understands the written Italian word, she feels compelled to fi nd the English equivalent.This illustrates the constant need to bring together the two components of her reality in an exertion to better understand herself. The narrator points to the importance of the translation process necessary when the Italian word, in this case her aunts letter, enters her own Canadian context. The narrator takes her role as translator very bad in finding the appropriate word, which testifies to the notion that the Italian-Canadian snuff its in a state of constant translation. Fabrizio, the narrator in Fabrizios Passion, shares the same attention to detail in the act of translating When I finish the pasta, faccio la scarpetta. Literally, this translates as to irritated ones shoe, that is, to soak a piece of bread in the tomato sauce, and wipe clean ones plate ) (65). In the two examples mentioned, the act of translating is an attempt to unite the two humannesss which comprise the narrators reality, that of the Italian-Canadian. This is done in two simult aneous ways first, by stating in Italian that which has its origin in the Italian domain of a function (the aunts letter the way one cleans the plate with bread) and second, by bad the English equivalent so that the non-Italian reader, rather than feel alienated, feels connected to that Italian universe creation described.The tension existing between the Italian and the Canadian is rooted as deeply as the structure of the sentence, virtually downstairs the texture of the writing. The stilted sentence is an English sentence which sounds Italiana sentence which has a latinate structure as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or germanic structure. It is important to stress that the stilted sentence is different from the literal translation. In Infertility Rites, for instance, Nina is asked When are you going to buy your botch up? (11) which is a direct translation from the Italian idiom meaning when will you pay off a baby. This is a literal translation purposely used to maintain the Ita lian flavour and to indicate that the words were spoken in Italian. The same is true of the following I pour myself another shape of American coffeewhat spawn calls dyed water(137). The expression coloured water is a direct translation for the Italian cliche on American coffee. In The Lions Mouth, Bianca reads in her aunts letter that her cousin Marco has had an exhaustion of the nervesthe literal translation of esaurimento newoso meaning a nervous breakdown (10).In these examples, the objective is not to sound English but to transmit the Italian idiom into English words without stay faithful to the nuances of each language. This is usually done to indicate that the words are originally spoken in Italian. In the stilted sentence, on the other hand, Italian is not present as words but at the level of the sentence structure, a feature film which has been criticized as badly written English, or simply bad writing.I would suggest, instead, that the presence of latinate structures wi thin the Italian-Canadian novel represents, to use Pasquale Verdicchios words, the utterances of immigrant culture (214) and mirrors the reality of the Italian-Canadian experience. The following passage from Black Madonna illustrates the latinate structure present in a confabulation between Assunta and Marie, who represent polar opposites of the Italian-Canadian duality Ma, Im going to Toronto, Marie said abruptly. They. . She couldnt find the Italian word for accepted. sic They took me. Ma, I have to go. More times I go to school, better job. You tell to your yield These things, I dont understand You go to schoolgood. You organiseygood. But you crazy. Your head in the clouds. The older you get, the crazier you get. I dont understand you. To Toronto you want to go? (70-1) In order to communicate with her mother, Marie is forced to speak like her. Although Maries More times I go to school, better job is not correct English, the structure is correct in Italian. ilkwise, Assunt as These things, I dont understand. and To Toronto you want to go? (where the (in)direct object precedes the verb) have an Italian structure. The sentence You tell to your experience, on the other hand, is a direct translation of the Italian. Moreover, the subject of their conversation consists of the push and pull characteristic of the old way versus the new way the traditional Italian mother does not want her daughter to leave home, whereas Marie wants to experience the license of Canadian society. In Fabrizios Passion, Fabrizio uses an Italian sentence structure when he says I am fourteen years old but am xxx in my head (72).This does not work grammatically in English but is often used in Italian. Likewise, in The Lions Mouth But where have you been? We waited an hour, but since you didnt have the good manners to even phone (37-38) and So loud you have to have that disposition? (42) have an Italian sentence structure. Such a structure is appropriate here given that the sen tences are spoken by an Italian, Marcos mother. Bianca, too, is bloodguilty of using the latinate sentence structure Her bedroom, that evening I visited, was sparse, cell-like (116).The following passage appears at the end of The Lions Mouth, in the Epilogue This week, Barbara arrived and I must play the wise aunt with a trunkful of distractions. Poor baby birdas I write she is standing in the living room, staring out the window at the still scapose trees and mud-filled garden, wondering what place is this. . . So I begin again my life in this city, this land. (my italics, 178) Even though narrating her tale has given Bianca a cash in ones chips focus on both components of her cultural makeup, the stiltedness of the italicized words emphasize the influence of Biancas Italian heritage.It is also significant that the first phrase, wondering what place is this, refers to Barbara, the Italian girl visiting from Venice, pleasant in the novelty and unlikeness of western Canada. Th e presence of the heritage language within the ethnic text has led to accusations of bad writing, and the use of the stilted sentence may be perceive as the writers inability to master the English language. On the contrary, these ethnic markers or linguistic stones are devices purposely used by the writer to illustrate the tension and negotiation at work in a bicultural identity. As Pasquale Verdicchio arguesBy stressing latinate vocabulary, by the entry of Italian syntactical forms, and by the inclusion of linguistic elements that represent the utterances of immigrant culture, these Italian-Canadian writers have altered the semantic field of English, thereby denying expected meaning. (214) The fact that the Italian word interrupts the flow of the English text is a way of illustrating the symptoms of sharpness which are an undeniable characteristic of Italian-Canadian reality. The presence of the Italian word within the English text should not be interpreted as a barrier between the two (Italian and Canadian) cultures.Rather, the meshing of Italian words with English words should be seen as the negotiation necessary in order to bring the two cultures together. Arun Mukherjee writes that Ethnic minority texts inform their readers, through the presence of other languages near the multi-cultural and multilingual nature of Canadian society (46). done their fiction Italian-Canadian writers suggest that in order to come to confiness with the element of schizophrenia inherent in a bicultural identity, the individual must train the process of reevaluating the heritage culture.By using the device of the stone, the Italian-Canadian writer attempts to illustrate the free burning transfer from one culture/language to the other experienced by bicultural individuals. Canton , Licia. (2004). The Clash of Languages in the Italian-Canadian Novel. Adjacencies Minority Writing in Canada . Ed. Lianne Moyes et al. Toronto Guernica. full treatment Cited DAlfonso, Antoni o. Fabrizios Passion. Toronto Guernica, 1995. Edwards, Caterina. The Lions Mouth. Edmonton NeWest, 1982. Loriggio, Francesco. History, Literary History, and Ethnic Literature. Literatures ofLesserDiffusion. Eds. Joseph Pivato et al. Edmonton University of Alberta Press, 1990. Melfi, Mary. Infertility Rites. Montreal Guernica, 1991. Mukherjee, Arun. Teaching Ethnic Minority Writing A Report from the Classroom. diary of Canadian Studies 31. 3 (1996) 3 8-47. Paci, Frank. Black Madonna. capital of Canada Oberon, 1982. The Father. Ottawa Oberon, 1984. The Italians. Ottawa Oberon, 1978. Padolsky, Enoch. Canadian Minority Writing and Acculturation Options. Literatures of Lesser Diffusion. Eds. Joseph Pivato et al. Edmonton University of Alberta Press, 1990. Pivato, Joseph. Echo Essays on Other Literatures. Toronto Guernica, 1994. Ricci, Nino. In a Glass House. Toronto McCleltand and Stewart, 1993. Verdicchio, Pasquale. Subalterns Abroad Writing amongst Nations and Cultures. Social Plu ralism and Literary History. Ed. Francesco Loriggio. Toronto Guernica, 1996. 206-226. Getting Weird and Ugly with Nino Ricci By Brian Gorman atomic number 18 you saying my book is wholesome? Nino Ricci demands.His mock indignation is a solvent to a straits, couched in diplomacy, about many Canadian storytellers affinity for subjects that some people might consider weird and unwholesome. In the case of his in style(p) book, the Giller Prize-nominated Where She Has Gone, the weird and unwholesome subject is incest, between the narrator and his half-sister. It occurs to one that this would not be out of place in a Canadian movie, as beguiled as our film-makers are with the weird and the unwholesome. He quotes Freud, about prohibiteds macrocosm the fundament of civilization. You could argue that civilization began when this taboo was created, that the guilt that created led to civilization. And theres something fictile about the incest taboo. Anthropologists have found that it was one of the first taboos. But theres a lot of it going on in our society. Incest occurs a lot more often than we care to acknowledgeusually as part of an ignominious comparisonship. unmatched person is always unwilling. Obviously, since theres such a strong taboo against it, people want to do it. The incestuous transactionhip in question comes at the end of a trilogyLives of the Saints, In a Glass House and now WhereShe Has Gonethat constitutes a sprawling, ambitious immigrant saga take awaying equally from Riccis Italian heritage (his parents were immigrants) and his Ontario Calvinist upbringing. I didnt start out to write an immigrant saga, he says. I started out to write anything but an immigrant saga. My original idea was to look an fervent relationship between a brother and a sister. It started out as a piece of erotica. A friend told me that you could write erotica and sell it for $200 a pop in New York. I didnt want to talk about ethnicity.I was primarily influenc ed by British literature. as luck would have it, I had older siblings who did well in school and interested me in read. I didnt get it from my parents. They encouraged education, but in a more general sense. Which brings us around to Canadianness, film and the weird and unwholesome. He says maybe its a reaction against the reserve imposed on us by our exact Calvinist heritage. This is a very fantastical ironyRicci, a Catholic, public lecture to another Catholic about our strict Calvinist heritageand it doesnt go unnoticed.The distant, unemotional and introspective nature of much of our storytelling, then, may just be the result of our living in a cold climate, he shrugs. mayhap its much more banal than we think. Brian Gorman. Getting Weird and Ugly With Nino Ricci. . www. canoe. ca/JamBooksFeatures/ricci_nino. html. Magical Complexity By Naomi Guttman Nina Ricci has already received much merited acclaim from writers across the country and abroad for this book, and I can ha rdly concur. Lives of the Saints, a book which any writer would be glad to have accomplished at any time, is all the more praiseworthy for existenceness a first novel.The year is 1960, but in Valle del Salle, the poor Appenine hamlet in which the novel is set, you would not know it there is no galvanizing power, grain is still cut with a scythe, and a snake bite is a sign that the evil eye has paid one a visit. Vittorio Innocente is the big(p) narrator telling the story of his boyhood when the action begins Vittorio is turning seven. His father has left to seek his fortune in America several years before and Vittorio and his mother, Cristina, experience with her father, Valle del Salles old mayor, in relative comfort.But Vittorios parents are estranged by more than an ocean and though Vittorio, with his bleak look, provides the filter through which all is told, it is really Cristina who is the central radiation diagram of the novel. It is she who is bitten by a green snake during a rendezvous in the type B with her nameless fair-haired(prenominal) lover she who wages a battle f pride with the village in which she was born and she who eight months into the pregnancy which has become a symbol of her scorn and thus the source of this battle, engineers an escape to Canada, taking her son with her.As always with a first-person narrative, there is a delicate commensurateness between what can be told and how. Vittorio is an expert listener, and because he is a child during the action of the tale, he gives very little in the way of interpretation. And so, as with all well-made things, the novel has the effect of appearing to be simple, which it is not, for it is abominably difficult to maintain that balance between the point of put one across of an adult regarding his childhood with adult insight, and that of the intuitive knowledge and fantastic distortions of the child he was at the time.Yet Ricci has been able to negotiate the distance between those vo ices with grace. The novels tension is cunningly built, the language is beautiful, and the symbolism plainly in view without coyness or flag-waving. Through Vittorios eyes we learn about the village, its characters, its colour, its superstitious notions and the envy, invidia, that distances villager from villager. The life of the village and the drama that is unfolding in Vittorios home is told with precision, care, a wonderful eye for detail rendered through the childs experience, as well as a perfect ear for dialogue.In fact with his gift for translating the specific idiom of the people of Valle del Sollethe true-sounding syntax, the well-chosen Italian word of phraseI felt as though I were indicant in Italian and translating for myself, an experience much like watching a wonderful foreign film with sub-titles and feeling that one has actually silent the words as they were spoken. And it may be said that this novel is filmic.In its use of colour, place and time, its ability to tell the story not unaccompanied of Vittorio and his family but of an entire village, it conveys the magical wisdom of childhood and the complexity of what are vatical to be simple lives in such a compelling narrative that, in the right hands, Lives of the Saints could be as grand and sublime a spectacle as Fanny and Alexander or My Life as a Dog. Of course no film could capture the lyricism of Riccis descriptions the image of the sun rising round and scarlet, sucking in the dawns darkness like Gods forgiveness, the mountain slopes belatedly changing from a colourless grey to rich green and gold. And then there is silence the silence of the mansion would wash over me, filling my head like a scream, crowding out my private vistas. The silence seemed to issuing from every nook and cranny of the reside, to dissolve furnishings and leave me suspended in a pure, electric emptiness, so volatile that the crunch of my mothers hoe scourgeened to shatter the house to its foundations . Without giving away the ending, I will say that my only qualms about the book came in the very last chapters where, though I understand its fictional necessity, as a feminist I question the implications it engenders.Early in the novel la maestra tells Vittorio and his classmates that a saint can be found anywhere at all, even among their ranks. Ricci re judgments us in this novel that all lives, no matter how normal they appear, are the locus for turmoil, the stuff, if not of sainthood, of drama, and can be fashioned into that fellowship of novel to which Lives of the Saints certainly belongs the novel one wishes will not end. Fortunately for us, it is the first of a trilogy and so the end will not come so soon. Guttman, Naomi. (1990). Magical Complexity Review of Lives of the Saints.Matrix 32 74-5. The Hyperbolical Project of Cristina A Derridean Analysis of Nino Riccis Lives of the Saints By Roberta Imboden Jacques Derridas Cogito and the History of Madness, catapulted him int o the centre of the cut intellectual world. This essay, a commentary )n Michel Foucaults book, The History of Madness, is seen as an refined example of the deconstructionist method at work in relation to metaphysics. What Derrida examines from this rather large tome is a few passages that Foucault writes about Descartes.Foucaults thesis is that Descartes, in his analysis of the Cogito, was the first philosopher to separate crusade from non precedent, from indulgence, and that this split was either a cause of, or at least, was representative of, the attitude which resulted in the first internment of mad persons within institutions in human history. That Descartes is responsible for all sorts of divisions, of insularitys, in the modem Western human psyche, such as that between pint and matter, between occasion and the emotions, is common in philosophical analysis, but Foucaults thesis is unusual in his emphasis upon the reason/ craziness split.If one then applies Derridas res ultant insights to Nino Ricci s prize winning novel, Lives of the Saints, an understanding of the novel will appear that should not only bring forward illuminate the power of this first novel, and the talents of its author, but iso explain to students of literature what I was not able to explain to my own students, not until now, why Cristina, the heroine, had to die in the rime of life when a world of love and of license beckoned to her for he first time.Derrida, who prefaces his remarks with a special tribute to his teacher and mentor, Foucault, claims that in the Cogito of Descartes, in its pure moment before it attempts to reflect, to articulate, this bipolar split never took place, and that the Cogito is valid for both the mad and the sane person. What this Cogito is about is the hyperbolical project (52) which is an extraordinary overmuch (52) that overflows the conglomeration of that which can be thought in the direction of the non-determined, Nothingness or infinity (57 ), toward non-meaning or toward meaning.This project takes one beyond all limits, all barriers, all contradictions, all opposing opposites. It is the element of excess that causes Derrida to claim that the Cogito involves flakiness, derangement (57), since the hyperbolical project seeks to behave beyond what the world would refer to as that which reason, logos, can itself attain, but it is not clinical madness, that is, what psychiatrists would consider to be a chemical disorder of the brain. It is the madness of the Cogito which simply refuses the limitations that the world of common sense says are necessary in order to be sane.It is madness in which interrogative is a central element, since it is a state of mind in which all things are possible, in which, in a sense, the figure of Ivan Karamazov looms, shouting his now famous, everything is permitted. But, for the distraught Ivan, this phrase refers only to the world of morality. For the Cartesian Cogito of Derrida this phrase is more far-reaching, since it is primarily epistemological all visions of reality, and of ones response to that reality, are possible. Such a state of mind is madness in the most total sense.Not surprising is the fact that this state of the Cogito, when reason and madness have not been separated, is also an intense moment consequently, this is simultaneously a state of mind in which reason is at its pinnacle of strength, as is madness. It is the moment of the full power of reason, and therefore the moment of a mad reason, an ancient, all powerful reason that is very different from the reason of which Foucault speaks in relation to Descartes. The reason of which Derrida speaks is not a truncated, chained and shore reason, but rather, a reason of mad audacity (55).That this project is a movement toward the non-determined means that it cannot be enclosed in a actual and determined historical structure (60), cannot be captured within a cover world that demands clear delineations , separations, within a history that must move from the past, through the present, toward the future, for it is the project of exceeding every finite and determined coreity (60), the project of exceeding all that is real, factual and existent (56).Consequently, Derrida refers to this project as demonic, probably because it violates the ancient codes of both the Judaeo-Christian and the classical Greek worlds. Both the warnings of take the apple of the tree of knowledge and that of succumbing to hubris are warnings not to follow the hyperbolical project, not to attempt to scope with ones mind all that is and all that could be. But the excessive moment of the hyperbolical project ends when one reflects upon and communicates the Cogito to oneself and then to others.One cannot be mad if one is to communicate this meaning in discourse. It is at this moment, when one breaks the silence, in reflection and in row, that one safeguards oneself against the epistemological madness of non-di stinction among innumerous visions of reality, of beyond reality, and of the infinite possibilities of responses to these visions. Now is the basic, fundamental moment of separation of reason from madness, the moment of difference. voice chat violently liberates, differs itself from madness and simultaneously imprisons it (60).Only then can finite thought and history reign (61), for finite thought is dependent upon a process that must involve exclusion, as is history, which is dependent upon cover events, and the exclusive choosing of events in order to make up the story that is history. This adjunction of the hyperbolical project, the attempt-to-say-the-demonic-hyperbole is the original profundity of the will in general is a first passion and keeps within itself a trace of violence (61). That is. he attempt to communicate the intense moment of the hyperbolical project is the human wills demon-ridden attempt to make concrete this project of excess. This moment of intense passi on is doomed forever to failure, but its titanic, gargantuan effort founds the world and history (57). No wonder that it carries traces of violence. The actual creation of the physical universe, correspond to the big bang theory, was certainly violent. Speech, language, is that which regulates the relationship between that which exceeds and the exceeded integrality (62).Speech separates the world of the hyperbolical project, the world that exceeds, the world of excess, from the world in which we live, the world that is exceeded by the hyperbolical project. Speech emerges from the silence and separates us from the pure Cogito, makes a difference between us and its project, and forces us to make choices, to decide. Since we can no longer have the gap of grasping all possibilities, we must decide what finite possibilities we must choose. We no longer can live in a world of hyperbolical doubt whose condition is that all is possible.We now are thrown into a world of dazzling light whe re certainty emerges as a safeguard against madness, for conversation functions in such a manner that it inspect(s), master(s), limit(s) hyperbole (59), since reason knows that the total derangement of the hyperbolical moment will bring subversion to pure thought (53). It is most probably because of the implied suffering in the action of speech that Derrida says that speech plumps within a caesura (54), a wound (54). that opens up life as historicity (54). Furthermore, the moment of communication, of speech, is one of crisis for two reasons.Firstly, reason is in grave danger, since in moving from its origin, the pure Cogito of the hyperbolical project, it is in danger of forgetting its origins, of blanketing them by the acuteist and transcendent. il unveiling (of) itself (62). It is then, ironically, that reason is madder than madness (62), for reason moves toward oblivion of this origin, ard therefore toward non-meaning. Madness is at this moment circumferent to the wellspring of sense (62), and, subsequently. is closer to the rational, however silent it is. Reason is now separated from itself as adness, is exiled from itself (62). Thus, the communication of the Cogito is the choosing of reason, an act which divides the reason of meaning from the labyrinth of non-meaning but the price is the freeing of dentity with itself and the loss of the fortuity of infinite possibility. Secondly, in ths moment of crisis, hubris is born of articulation, and although hubris S coincident with creation, its major quality is in excess that must operate within finitude, a quality that the concrete world of history is presumable to punish severely.My thesis is that reading Nino Riccis Lives of the Saints in the light of this particular Derridean essay is essential for the understanding of the main character, Cristina, the woman whose presence. through the narration of her newborn son, Vittorio, dominates the entire novel. She lives in a hill-town in the Italian Appennin es with her son and her father, the mayor of the town, who is accused of having sold out to the fascists.Her save, absent for four years since he emigrated to Canada, supposedly to create a new life for Cristina and Vittorio, writes monthly letters of wild scribble, but, for Cristina, he is simply absent and for Vittorio, he is simply a shadowy, violent memory. The tension of the novel revolves around a scene, from Vittorios perspective, which is composed of a stable, a muffled shout (1), followed by a green snake escaping from the stable and a pair of blueweed eyes that run away toward a car.The combination of these events results in the pregnancy of Cristina, and in the very traditional and superstitious people of the village shunning her. To establish Cristina as the Cartesian-Derridean Cogito, it is beaver to begin by analyzing her silence, as it is observed by the narrator, Vittorio. From the perspective of the reader she tells us nothing of what she truly thinks or feels. W hat happened in the stable? We can only guess, but that is exactly what we must do.Her only comment is to Luciano, one of her friends in Rocca Secca, Anyway I have my own trouble to worry about. I hope he didnt leave me a little gifthe got very excited when he saw that snake (66). After this incident, a deep silence descended on the house the very walls, the floor, the splintered table, seemed to have grown strangely distant and mute, as if guarding some mystical themselves (57). Cristina withdrew into shadowy silence (74), broken mainly by her quiet sobbing at night mingling with the sigh of the wind, like something inhuman (77). The silence seemed to issue from every nook and cranny of the house (77). Of his mothers relationship to himself, in particular, Vittorio says, there are no words now to bridge the silence (74). There are only silent meals (74) and the silence between Cristina and the grandad, her father, more or less extends until the end of the novel. A second characte ristic that marks Cristina as the embodiment of the Derridean Cogito is the strange non-delineation between reason and madness that surrounds her.In relation to the element of reason, she is one of the stovepipe educated women in the village. But most outstanding is her absolute disdain for the superstition of the villagers who seem to have inherited an ancient pagan superstition that intermingles with Catholicism and erupts every year in the procession of the Virgin Mary whose statue is carried throughout the town. All the doors and windows of the houses of the village are open except for those of Cristina. Their being steadfastly shut makes her a living testimony to rationality itself.But this rationality is strangely interwoven with madness in the snakebite incident. First, at the very line of descent of the book, when she is bitten by the snake in the stable, she waits quietly in front of her house for the ride to the hospital. DiLucci, who gives Cristina the ride says to he r, Youd think you were just going to the commercialize (16). He seems disconcerted by her unexpected calm (16). Then, Vittorio says that the tourniquet sank into her nog but my mother did not wince or grimace (17).Finally, she slowly succumbs to a trancelike, harsh state which sends her into the deepest possible form of physical silence. She is literally outside of what one would normally refer to as a rational state, but, she never rants, raves or rambles. Instead, she is inhumanly calm. She seems to transcend both fear and pain. Before the onslaught of the results of the venom she is rationally silent, telling her father again and again that what she was doing in the barn was feeding the pigs, and when she overcomes the venom and fully returns to her conscious state. he is glistening and alert (18), again rational, but silent. It is almosi as if the brief period of the rigid trancelike state is simply a deepening of the rational/mad silence that will surround her throughout m ost of the novel. The non-delineation of madness/reason on this rather basic level, when examined in the light of other non-delineations, leads to an highly important aspect of the Derridean hyperbolical project, that of epistemological madness.But the major point at the moment is to look at these other non-delineations in relation to Cristinas being the Derridean Cogito, and to her subsequently being involved with the hyperbolical project. The relationship between Cristina and Vittorio, the most important relationship in the novel, is a good example of Cristinas sense of lack of division, of boundary, and threatens the villagers view of what they perceive as the most fundamental of relationships, that of mother and son.The implication of the villagers who hurl accusations at her in her role as mother is that she behaves toward him more like a sister or friend than a mother since she refuses to send the seven-year-old Vittorio into the fields to do agricultural work at 400 a. m. , a s the other mothers do. The extreme case is Vittorios only friend, Fabrizio, whose father forces him to remain in the fields so long that he cannot go to school. Instead, Cristina and Vittorio are accused of playing together like children all the time.But this relationship of mother/sister/friend also is, simultaneously, a mother/ lover relationship. At the age of seven an upset Vittorio is told that he can no longer share his mothers bed. His grandfather says, Next month youll be seven. Thats no age to be sleeping with your mother (34). Then, when Cristina takes Vittorio to the cave of the underground pool, Vittorio discovers a pair of tinted spectacles in the straw, similar to the shattered pair that he found when the man with the eyes of the blue flame ran from the stable.The relationship of mother/lover emerges when Vittorio absolutely sees his naked mother standing above him as she is about to dive into the pool. No sensuous touch ever occurs the entire scene has a preternatu ral quality about it. At this moment, through Vittorios eyes, we see a truly beautiful woman, one, whom he says, bears no resemblance to the other village women, a smooth and sleek (33) woman who takes on the qualities of some ancient Greek goddess, such as Calypso or Circe. Like them, she has beauty and power for good and for evil.If Calypso, she has the power to grant men immortality and interminable youth (Homer 58), although she may also deter them from their lawful, faithful wives. If Circe, she has the power to turn men into swine (118-119)therefore, Cristinas reference to feeding the pigs when she was in the stableand has the subsequent power to return them to their human form with an unearthly beauty that to date they had not possessed. Thus, Cristina is eternal beauty, love, and eternal faithful relationship, as well as ugliness, treachery and unfaithfulness.This non-delineation, non-difference, non-choice, non-separation is evident also in her relationships with mature m en. In being unfaithful to her long absent husband in Canada, she is faithful to her blue-eyed lover, for, in the imagination of the careful reader, the hints and fragmented pieces of Vittorios memory draw a picture of a youthful love of Cristina for a young German soldier, a love that preceded her marriage to Mario of her own village. The German was her first, and in a sense, her only lover.The dim memory of Mario given to us by Vittorio is anything but that of a lover. He is seen as a violent figure who hurled an object against his mothers face, a memory that is questionable, but, nevertheless, Cristina does have a small scar on her face in the shape of a disjointed cross (Lives 37). But two other passages give foundation to Vittorios memory. Cristina says of Mario to Alfredo, The only way he knows how to talk is with the back of his hand (95).Then, when Vittorio sees the letter with the small neat script of bright blue (158), he says that this writing is not that of his fathers v iolent hand (158). Thus, her unfaithfulness is true faithfulness. Furthermore, if the reader is tempted to see the blue-eyed soldier as a fascist, a member of a military machine ruled by fascist ideology, careful reading indicates that this young man was probably a communist who, somehow, in a way never explained, deserted the armament and most likely was involved in some sort of dangerous, idealistic undercover, or partisan action against the Nazis.And Cristina, in her silent way, lives for years with secret rendezvous, probably in Rocca Secca, with this lover, while simultaneously living in union with her fascist father who is just as traditional in his attitudes as the rest of the villagers. She does not choose. She does not have to because she does not speak. One can continue to multiply this non-delineation, non-difference way of living by adding that no line exists between desire/love and duty or Cristina, nor between meaning and non-meaning.She lives desire, her love for h er lover, for Vittorio, for her father, but she also is a dutiful daughter and mother, and no duty exists for her vis-a-vis her husband since she appears to feel that she has been abandoned. Some men in her family had gone to the New World and returned, but some, like Cristinas enate grandfather, have disappeared. Her feeling of abandonment is exhibited when she hurls at her father the accusation that her husband i-as probably been sleeping with every whore in America (154). Furthermore, she appears to live in some beyond world of meaning/non-meaning.The literal reading of the text sees a talented, vibrant woman living the daily life of deathly isolation and suppression of all that she is. This text is that of a vacuous life. But Cristina wishes to grasp the totality, no matter what it means, and it is here that the text of a meaningful life lies. Derrida actually claims that this action is the origin of meaning (Writing 57. ). What she most passionately desires in this project is to grasp the totality of freedom, a freedom that cannot really be thought.It is a freedom that wants it all to be a dutiful daughter of a traditional, fascist father, to be a passionate lover of a blue-eyed fugitive communist, to be a well-thought-of educated, highly rational citizen of a traditional, uneducated superstition-haunted village, to be a loving, mischievous mother, yet a mother who never tells her son anything. it is a mad project of excess that can be implied by these few words. but not completely thought, for Cristina is grasping for that which goes beyond words and thoughts. This mad project, best labelled epistemological madness, is the major mark of the hyperbolical project of the Derridean Cogito.The villagers unconsciously understand this quality in Cristina, for they, too have an epistemology, since everyone does, and her behavior and silence are seen by the villagers as a derangement, a displacement, a subversion of their rationality, their raison detre, for h er very existence threatens all their beliefs, their epistemology. Cristinas existence not only threatens their view of reality in relation to Catholicism as they live it, but also their ancient superstitions, especially their complex view of the ability of one person to curse another, that is, the power of a person to puzzle out effectively the evil eye. But, most important, her existence threatens the villagers understanding of human relationships, especially of those between men and women, of family relationships in general, of the place of women in society, and of the consequent possibility of their freedom. Thus, Cristina upsets the foundation of meaning for the villagers her existence threatens the clear certainty of their lives with doubt. That Cristinas threat is as powerful as it is, is derived from its being rooted in the intensity of an ancient mad rationality. She grapples toward all possibilities, the villagers toward none.Not surprising, because Cristinas very existen ce is perceived by the villagers to be a threat, the unspoken accusation against her is that she is mad in the sense of the supposed madness of entranceery. Since they dimly perceive that she attempts to grasp the totality of reality, and that somehow she lives within a nix space, she surely must be in touch with the demonic and suffers from a subsequent dangerous madness. One could object to this analysis, saying that the witch-craze existed a few centuries ago, but it must be remembered that these villagers appear to have a completely pre-scientific mentality.In the days of the witch craze, at the centre of all the lore surrounding witchcraft, was the belief that the Devil would assume human form and it is then that the woman witch would have internal intercourse with him (Malleus Maleficarium 27). In the earliest days of the witch craze, a phenomenon that some historians believe grew out of the attack upon heretics (Russell 229), many men were accused of witchcraft (279), but many women, especially women from the upper classes, were attracted to these heretical sects because it was only there that they could enjoy something that resembled equality (282).This factor, plus many other social factors, at long last made women the sole victims of the witch craze, and as this phenomenon centred more and more upon women, the accusations locomote from those of heresy, toward those of sexual intercourse with the Devil. The involvement between Cristinas Fathers accusatory communista and Alfredos dire, oblique prediction that Cristinas unborn child will have a serpentine head is reminiscent of the historical link between sexual relations with the devil and heresy, for to the religious, fascist father, the term communista implies the worst kind of heresy of his time.That Vittorio describes the eyes that he saw at the stable as turning magically a luminous blue as they caught the sunlight (and that they were) bright flames that held me (Lives 12) is net surprising . To him, obviously, the Devil, who must take male human form in order to have sexual relations with a woman, really had visited Christina in the stable. Once again, Cristina lives the logos/madness non-delineation, for although the witch lore follows her everywhere, her reaction to it is that of scoffing rationality.She laughs while saying, Stupidaggini (57). Although the rational reader, too, scoffs at the link that the villagers see between the Devil and Cristina, there are indications in the text that in a profound mythical sense, there is a link between Cristina and the demonic. This point is strengthened by the underground cave scene. The spicy spring sulphuric waters of this underground place where Cristina obviously feels very safe and at home have reverberations, as does the river that she and Vittorio must cross, of Hades, and of the river Styx.A this point, let us not forget that Derrida refers to the hyperbolical project as demonic, for it symbolizes the pursuit of exces s, of forbidden knowledge. Furthermore, of course, for the pure Cogito which Cristina at this moment, personifies, there is no division, no boundary, between reason and the labyrinth, between meaning and non-meaning, between God and the Devil. Cristina is usually so self-contained, so stoical, so powerful in her seeming control of herself.But on two occasions before the climactic leave-taking of the village, she concretely, actively, displays the hyperbolical projects element of mad excess, once in a violent physical champion with one of the village women, and once in the dance at the end of the festival. One day after school some of the schoolmates of Vittorio beat him. When Cristina hears of the event, surmising that one of the mothers of these boys had provoked the incident because of the rumors of the snake and of her pregnancy, Cristina races through the town and into the womans house and attacks her.Cristina attempts to strangle her, but the frightened, amazed woman pulls awa y in time. Later, at the end of the festival, Cristina grabs Vittorios arm and takes him to the centre of the dancing and begins to dance, to gimmick very quickly. Vittorio finds the entire situation mad, wild, dizzying. Dancing/strangling a strange dual manifestation of this project. Finally, as she and Vittorio leave the village forever, Cristina articulates what she thinks and feels to the villagers.In a private road rain, standing beside the truck that is going to drive them to the dock in Naples, she stops, and at all the villagers who are watching her from balconies and windows, she hurls these words. Fools You tried to kill me but you see Im still alive. And now you came to watch me hang, but I wont he hanged, not by your stupid rules and superstitions. You are the ones who are dead, not me, because not one of you know what it means to be free and to make a choice, and I pray to God that he wipes this town and all its stupidities off the face of the earth 184) This is the m oment of articulation, of speech, of separation of reason from madness, of her declaring a difference between herself and madness. It is the moment that she publicly articulates determination, her decision to leave her fascist father and his village of narrow superstitious tradition, to give the sack being a dutiful daughter and village citizen, and to choose to go to her lover, a man who is not her husband, according to law, and to go to a world that is radically different from that in which she has always lived.She no longer attempts to grasp the totality. She knows that definite decisions, choices, must be made, that she must declare that differences exist that cannot be lived simultaneously. The nightly sighs, and sobs of hyperbolical doubt are over, and her taunting, proud shouts at the staring villagers are the shouts of a sudden manifestation of certainty, of a rational certainty that separates her from their superstition.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.