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Gabriele D’Annunzio and the World War I Rhetoric of Heroism in Asterope Visualising War: The Iconography of Conflict and the Italian Nation The Association.

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Presentation on theme: "Gabriele D’Annunzio and the World War I Rhetoric of Heroism in Asterope Visualising War: The Iconography of Conflict and the Italian Nation The Association."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gabriele D’Annunzio and the World War I Rhetoric of Heroism in Asterope Visualising War: The Iconography of Conflict and the Italian Nation The Association for the Study of Modern Italy (ASMI), The British School at Rome, and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome. 18 th -19 th of September 2014 Marja Härmänmaa, University of Helsinki, Finland

2 The social role of the writer Against the social escapism of the fin de siècle Francesco De Sanctis ( ) Giosuè Carducci ( ) Gabriele D’Annunzio ( )

3 Gabriele D’Annunzio -Poet and writer -Politician - Hero of the First World War

4 D’Annunzio and politics MP in 1897 World War I interventionist Founder of the city state of Fiume ( )

5 D’Annunzio and modern politics Mass society Participation of masses in politics

6 D’Annunzio and modern political discourse Founder of modern political discourse in Europe To arouse enthusiasm No facts, nor rational analysis Melodramatic and poetic style Myths and symbols

7 D’Annunzio’s political program Aestheticization of politics Nationalism in the post-unification era (1861) – Italy must be a great nation

8 Pre World War I political writings Armata d’Italia (1881) – political articles Odi navali (1893) – militaristic poems Merope / Canzoni della Gesta d’oltremare ( ) – poems about the Italo-Turkish war in Libya

9 Italy and World War I Allied with the Central Powers Neutrality till May 23, 1915 Ally of the Triple Entente The last war of unification

10 ”Maggio radioso” 1915 D’Annunzio returned from France to Italy Joined the interventionists Speeches – Per la più grande Italia Poems – Canti della guerra latina / Asterope

11 Asterope ( ) D’Annunzio’s last poems 23 lyric poems and rhythmic prose Gli inni sacri della guerra giusta Canti della guerra latina In the collection Versi d’amore e di gloria – The Pleiades: Maia, Elettra, Alcyone, Merope, Asterope

12 The purpose of Asterope (1933) To stress Italy’s participation Glorification of the war Public: the Italian middle class – First published in Il Corriere della Sera – ”D’Annunzio, Italy’s pseudo-official orator” [Isnenghi]

13 Rhetorical devices Self-quotations (Ideological and political) traditions of Italy – Dante – Risorgimento, Garibaldi – Popular songs – Bible – Ancient Rome

14 Characteristics of Asterope emotional (instead of rational) allusive (instead of direct or concrete) highly metaphorical (instead of literal), in order also to mystify war persuasive (instead of imperative) only occasionally polemical, but generally descriptive, employing a technique that persuades by sublimating war

15 World War I a turning point for D’Annunzio From ”dandy” to ”war hero” No more fiction, but glorification of present reality – War as a moment of epiphany for the Nation

16 Il Vate D’Annunzio aspired to become the spiritual leader of Italy High ideals or personal cult? – ”le culte de moi” Maurice Barrès The illuminated first-person narrator is present in several poems

17 The illuminated D’Annunzio ”Je suis une offrande d’amour, / je suis un cri vers l’aurore, / je suis un clairon de rescousse / aux lèvres de la race élue.” [L’Ode pour la résurrection latine, vv 18-21] [I am an offering of love,/I am a cry toward the dawn,/ I am a trumpet sounding alarm/at the lips of the chosen race. Ode for the Latin resurgence, verses 18-21]

18 The abuse of history No nostalgia for the past – War a turning point in D’Annunzio’s production Justification of the special role of the Latin people

19 Dante As a person, references, comparisons, quotes (terminology) To sublimate and to dishonor To stress the Italian national character To emphasize horror (Inferno)

20 An Italian city ”Mia nell'alpe è la città che Dante cuopre” [”Salmi per i nostri morti 1”, strofa 46] [Mine is the city in the Alps that Dante guards] [Psalms for our fallen 1, stanza 46]

21 The wretched war ” Ma dall'immondo Barbaro la viva / guerra sepolta fu come carogna /truce, posta a marcire nella fogna / buia, stivata nell'orrenda stiva, // soffocata nel tossico fumante /e rituffata nella lorda pozza /come quell'ira che del fango ingozza /nello Stige implacabile di Dante.” [”Per i combattenti”, strofe 25-26] [«But the living war was buried by the filthy Barbarian/ as if it were rotten flesh,/ left to rot in a gloomy sewer,/ stowed away in the horrendous pit,//stifled in fuming toxin,/and plunged into the filthy pool/like the wrath that gulps down mud/ in Dante’s implacable Styx.»] [«For the combattants,» stanzas 25-2]

22 Ancient Rome The myth of Rome is constantly present in D’Annunzio Derived from Giosuè Carducci Justification of nationalistic aspirations

23 Rome in war propaganda France and Italy are Latin ”sisters” The chosen people fighting against the Teutonic barbarians Mainly in abstract form: “idea,” “spirit”

24 The horses of the Dioscuri ”Et j’entends les chevaux des Dioscures hennir.” [”L’Ode pour la résurrection latine”, v 42] [”And I hear the horses of the Dioscuri neighing.”,”Ode for the Latin resurgence”, verse 42 ]

25 The goddess Victory ”ó Vierge, accompagne mon message, affermis ma voix!” [”L’Ode pour la résurrection latine”, v 84] [O Virgin, sustain my message, give confirmation to my voice!” ”Ode to the Latin resurgence”, verse 84]

26 The enemy within ”The intellectual use of war” = war as a remedy for collective and individual pathologies [Isnenghi] Disappointment with the unification of Italy Collapse of great ideals of the Risorgimento Degradation (corruption) of the political class and the failure of democracy

27 D’Annunzio’s ”inner enemy” in L’Ode ”vêtu d’ignominie et de paix” [vv 74-75; adorned with ignominy and peace] ”l’astuce et la peur, vaches baveuses, / [qui] ruminaient le mensonge” [vv 78-80; guile and fear, slobbering cows/(who) chew the cud of lies] Italy is: ”Corrompue et pollué par les mains des vieillards” [v 81; corrupted and polluted by the hands of old men]

28 The external enemy The rationale of the war: the annexation of certain territories in the north and northeast territories to Italy The war between the chosen Latin race and the bestial Teutonic barbarians “Nous sommes les nobles, nous sommes les élus; / et nous écraserons la horde hideuse.” [“L’Ode pour la résurrection latine”, vv ] [We are the nobles, we are the chosen;/and we will eliminate the hideous horde.” “Ode for the Latin resurgence” vv ]

29 The Dalmatian ladies in “Cantico per l’ottava della vittoria,” (1918) E le città di Dalmazia si scingono sul mare /cantando dai bei veroni veneti, bionde e chiare / nell'ambra di Vettor Carpaccio. [strofa 10] E Zara è la prima, [...] /tutta bella al davanzale della sua Riva Vecchia,/ ridorata come quando Venezia si rispecchia /nell'oro sciolta dal caligo [strofa 11] O Traù, mia dolce donna, tu che sei tra le donne / dàlmate la più dorata! Sei nelle tue colonne / come il fuoco nell’alabastro [strofa 14] [ And the cities of Dalmatia spread themselves upon the sea/singing from the lovely Venetian balconies, golden and illustrious/in the amber light of Vittore Carpaccio.] [And Zara is the first...all lovely at the windowsill of its Ancient Shore,/ gilded anew as when Venice is reflected/in gold, suspended in the haze] [O Trogir (Trau`),my sweet lady, you who are the most golden /of all the Dalmatian ladies! You stand among your columns/like fire inside of alabaster]

30 Austria Traditional connotations of the ”barbarians”: – Livestock – Sexual orgy – Alcohol abuse The image of disgust: a vulture vomiting a rotting carcass

31 The Barbarians ”La force barbare nous appelle / au combat sans merci. / Comme la horde traînait / dans ses chariots couverts de peaux fraîches / les concubines innombrables / pour les rassasier de carnage / et les enivrer d’hydromel, / ainsi elle amène toutes les hontes / derrière ses hommes comptés en bétail à deux pieds, / pour qu’ils couchent avec toutes dans leur sang èpaise / qui est le rouge frère de la boue, / tandis que le vautour à deux têtes, / le maître puant au double cou dénudé, / pousse son cri lugubre et rejette / la charogne mal digérée.” [« L’Ode… », vv ] [The barbarous force calls us/to pitiless combat./Just as the Horde once dragged innumerable concubines/ in its chariots covered with fresh hides/to satiate them with carnage/and intoxicate them with hydromel,/indeed the barbarous force brings every shame/along with its men who are no better thanlivestock on two feet,/since they couple with everything/having turbid blood that is the red twin of mud,/while the two- headed vulture,/the fetid ruler with its two naked necks,/sends forth its mournful cry and vomits up/its poorly digested putrid meat.]

32 War Beautiful and horrifying A moment of epiphany for the renaissance of the Latin people A holy experience

33 The beauty and horror of war ”Quelle horreur et quelle mort / et quelle beautés nouvelles / sont partout éparses dans la nuit?” [L’Ode pour la résurrection latine, vv 1-3] [What horror and what death/and what novel beauties/are scattered everywhere in the night? Ode for the Latin resurgence, vv. 1-3]

34 War as epiphany The rebirth of the Latin race – France after the Franco-Prussian war – The recently unified Italy Agricultural metaphors: – Battle juxtaposed to harvest – ’Bread’ as new life – Soldiers as coarse grain in the east wind

35 The holy harvest ”Car, pour les Latins, c’est l’heure sainte / de la moisson et du combat. O femmes, / prenez les faucilles et moissonnez! / Apprêtez le pain nouveau / à la faim nouvelle! Vos hommes / frapperont fort, serrés comme les épis, / dans la bataille, rang contre rang, / comme les blés drus sous le vent d’est.” [L’Ode pour la résurrection latine, vv ] [Because, for the Latins, it is the sacred hour/of harvest and combat. O women,/take up your sickles and reap!/Prepare the new bread/for the new hunger! Your men/will strike hard, arrayed like stalks of corn,/in battle, rank against rank,/like the strong corn under the east wind. ]

36 The Christian religion Most important rhetorical device Beginning in Merope, culminating in Asterope To persuade the Catholics? Religious imagery in interventionist speeches

37 The ”religion of the Fatherland” From Mazzini and the Risorgimento In D’Annunzio’s political discourse, the sacred and profane are merged together Merope: the war against the Turks is a holy war of the Christians against the Muslims

38 Religion in Asterope The apex of the abuse of religion Thematics, terminology, symbols, images References to the Bible and direct quotes from it Poems entitled ’prayers’ or ’psalms’ that follow the style and structure of religious poetry

39 ”Il Rinato” (1918) The birth of Jesus Christ in the trenches – S'ebbe natività nella trincea / cava il Figliuol dell'uomo; e solo quivi, / messo in fasce da piaghe, si giacea. [strofa 5; One experienced birth in the trenches/ the Son was drawn from man; and only here,/ swaddled because of his wounds, was he lying.] Symbol of the beginning of a new era

40 The new era E sanguinava in fasce; ed il rossore / si dilatava come immenso raggio, /sicché tutti i ghiacciai parvero aurore, // tutte le nevi parvero il messaggio /dei dì prossimi, l'ombra fu promessa /di luce, il buio fu di luce ostaggio. [«Il Rinato», strofe 9,10] [And he was bleeding in his swaddling clothes; and the red stain/ was spreading like an immense ray of light,/so that all the glaciers seemed like the dawn,//all the snows seemed like a message/from the coming days, the shadow was a promise/of light, the darkness was a hostage of light.]

41 The horrible war ecco t'appare / più vicina dei sogni / la trincea tetra, la penosa bolgia, / tra maceria e steccaia / il fango imputridito / le piaghe non fasciate / i morti non sepolti /gli smorti vólti / dei vivi senza sonno / fitti nel limo sino all'anguinaia [“Per i cittadini” (1918)] [now it appears before you, closer than dreams:/the gloomy trench, the agonizing pit,/amid rubble and pilings/the stinking mud/the unbound wounds/the unburied dead/the pallid faces/of the sleepless living/immersed in slime to the hip]

42 Death in war Death and horror are constantly present ”the beautiful death” from Nietzsche Sanctifying death for the holy Fatherland A path to immortality, as the dead pantheistically merge with the Fatherland The only right and desirable death

43 The beautiful death Una corona brilla sopra esse, come sopra la chioma delle vergini. Il sorriso precede la prodezza, e riappare dopo l'agonia. La morte è chiara come una vittoria. [«Salmi per i nostri morti 1», strofa 25] [A crown gleams above them, as above the hair of virgins. A smile precedes the gallant deed, and it reappears after the agony. Death is as illustrious as victory.]

44 Sanctification E allora udita fu dall'alto una voce senza carne, che diceva: «Beati i morti.» Fu intesa una voce annunziare: «Beati quelli che per te morranno.» [«Salmi per i nostri morti 1», strofa 50] [And then a disembodied voice was heard from on high, that said: «Blessed are the dead.» A voice was heard to announce: «Blessed are those who will die for you.»]

45 Immortalization Ma presi erano nella terra, tenuti erano dalla terra, profondati in essa, intrisi con essa, carname con zolle, ossame con selci.// E morivano. E come i corpi loro formavano il tuo corpo, così gli spiriti loro facevano il tuo fiato, o Patria, il tuo fiato possente. [«Salmi per i nostri morti 1», strofa 36, 37] [But they were taken into the earth, they were held by the earth, buried deep in it, steeped with it, rotten flesh with clods, scattered bones with flint. And they were dying. Just as their bodies formed your body, so their spirits made up your breath, o Fatherland: your powerful breath.]

46 The missed death Son nel carcere dell’ossa, nei lacci delle vene, / e non diffuso nei vènti, nelle acque, nelle arene, / in tutte le tue creature. // Con una meravigliosa gioia tesi le mani / a rapir la morte. E sempre diceva ella: “Domani.” / [Salmi per i nostri morti 1, strofe 27, 28] [I am in the dungeon of bones, in the snaresof veins,/and not yet dispersed in the winds, in the waters, in the sands, in all of your creatures.//With a marvelous joy I extended my hands/ to snatch death. And always she said: «Tomorrow.»]

47 Conclusion: The logic of D’Annunzio’s war imagery Traditional semantic fields Civilization – Barbarism Agriculture, animals Women – men Religion

48 D’Annunzio hero and demagogue bridged the gulf between intellectuals and the masses his boldness was not mere rhetoric Italy mobilitated 5,500,000 men, of whom 947,000 wounded, and 460,000 died Regardelss the message of Il Vate they hardly became immortal

49 Thank you! A special thank to professor Matteo D’Ambrosio for his comments, and to professor Christopher Nissen for his linguistic advice, translations and comments.


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