Tag Archives: Research

Antropologia e il Belpaese

UnknownUna risorsa particolarmente stimolante per chiunque si occupi della società italiana è Fareantropologia, che ospita articoli, recensioni e dibattiti di notevole interesse per la conoscenza del Belpaese oggi. Attualmente il sito offre un’analisi in stile Bourdieu, dati e nomi alla mano, degli studi demoetnoantropologici italiani. Fornisce anche una serie di link a materiali teorici e empirici su temi come la donazione del sangue, la cultura materiale domestica, le pratiche della cura del corpo, l’analisi delle mostre d’arte e il patrimonio etnografico immateriale – tutti in riferimento all’Italia.

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Quaderno poetico #6: Going behind the scenes (II) – Archives

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

220px-Stipula_fountain_penThis is the first of two posts about working in archives, where so many of us spend so much our time, in Italy and elsewhere. My work concentrates on the Florentine poet Piero Bigongiari and I will have more to say about working on his archival materials later, as well as talking about the technical questions involved – transcribing handwriting, handling old paper and so on. First, though, I have found myself reflecting on archival work in general, the fascination, frustrations, fun and fanaticism that surround it. I’m interested to hear other people’s archival stories and philosophies, particularly if they disagree with mine. Archival work often makes you feel that you’re the only one in the world doing what you’re doing (a chosen one, even!) but of course we’re never alone. The Renaissance scholar Gene Brucker has called himself an ‘archive junkie.’ There must be more out there. Be proud of it.

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Quaderno poetico #6: Going behind the scenes (II) – Archives

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

220px-Stipula_fountain_pen

This is the first of two posts about working in archives, where so many of us spend so much our time, in Italy and elsewhere. My work concentrates on the Florentine poet Piero Bigongiari and I will have more to say about working on his archival materials later, as well as talking about the technical questions involved – transcribing handwriting, handling old paper and  so on. First, though, I have found myself reflecting on archival work in general, the fascination, frustrations, fun and fanaticism that surround it. I’m interested to hear other people’s archival stories and philosophies, particularly if they disagree with mine. Archival work often makes you feel that you’re the only one in the world doing what you’re doing (a chosen one, even!) but of course we’re never alone. The Renaissance scholar Gene Brucker has called himself an ‘archive junkie.’ There must be more out there. Be proud of it.  

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Quaderno poetico #4: How the poetry works (II)

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

What do you notice about these two samples of poetry?

“…se il vento rintocca nelle corti / come un rullo sordo e opaco di tamburo, / un ululo fedele accanto al muro / del padrone addormentato.”

“Le corti fiorentine / rintoccano a morto in una cupa vanità / come una pelle tesa di tamburo, / le ardesie soffocate di polvere quassù in alto…”

The quotations come from two separate poems, “La notte fiorentina,” written on the 27th of February 1946, and “Inverno arido,” written a few days later on the 3rd and 4th of March. But yes, the thing you notice is the repetition. Different poems, same material: the courtyards reverberating with a menacing, drumhead sound. The last post ended with the suggestion that Bigongiari’s writing unfolded through a process of elaboration, treating certain phrases, words or situations as motifs, to be taken up from previous poems and recoloured in new ones. What you see here is an example of elaboration in action.

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Quaderno poetico #3: How the poetry works (I)

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

Once the historical labels are removed, the project of getting to know Piero Bigongiari arrives at the biggest question: if the idea of ermetismo is not the key to defining his work, then what is?Bigongiari photo Bigongiari’s poetry is often deeply abstract; it can be highly charged with emotion, but without a clear reason or point of reference; it sometimes plays odd games with internal rhymes and repetitions. Furthermore, the poems are presented in chronological order and their dates of composition are given in the table of contents. How do we discuss this coherently and sympathetically? And how do we draw philosophical conclusions from it?

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Quaderno poetico #2: Peeling off the labels

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

When you write about authors who aren’t household names, the first thing you’re expected to do is place them somewhere in history, otherwise their writing won’t make sense. In Piero Bigongiari’s case this seems easy, as the job has been done for you by decades of common sense. The standard line is to say that Bigongiari was one of the terza generazione of ermetici. That is, he belonged to a group of poets who followed Ungaretti and Montale, dwelling on the abstract, the dreamlike and the mysterious. Other members of the terza generazione were Mario Luzi, Alessandro Parronchi and Alfonso Gatto, along with the critics Carlo Bo and Oreste Macrì. They all met as students in Florence in the 1930s, gathered in cafes for fervent discussion, and enjoyed one flowering of pure, apolitical poetic creativity (ignored by the Fascist regime, which didn’t get poetry) before the post-war shift leftwards in Italy’s cultural scene. Their moment was interesting while it lasted, but circumstances and politics turned taste elsewhere. This seems foolproof: the terza generazione come as a boxed set labelled Montale’s Friends, which fills out the library but which you pass over to read bigger things.

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Quaderno poetico #1: Our man Bigongiari

Theodore Ell   University of Sydney

bigongiariThe eyes follow you. They have been following me for six years. They belong to the Florentine poet Piero Bigongiari (1914-1997), one of the so-called terza generazione of ermeticiI wrote my doctorate on Bigongiari and am turning my research into a book. ACIS has kindly given me the opportunity to keep a diary of the project, and over the next several months I will be posting snippets and vignettes from the desk.

This will not be so much “writing about writing” as a reflection on Bigongiari as a subject and as a presence:  someone whose poems I read alongside his diaries and letters, whose voice I hear in recordings, whose loose and sometimes messy handwriting I have learned to decipher, and whose quirks and habits of mind are now very familiar to me, but who is not actually there. Few book subjects are, but there is still a feeling that they keep you company. How do you make your figure of interest seem real on the page? Bigongiari’s work may seem out-of-the-way, strange or difficult, but what are its real merits? What can it mean to us today? What is Bigongiari’s relationship to other poets of the last century, and what light do they shed on one another? And how, sometimes, do you manage to look away from those eyes that are following you all the time, and put your own opinion freely on the page?

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