A D'Annunzian Donnafugata? A possible mantuan intertext for a key section of Il Gattopardo.
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's posthumous masterpiece, Il Gattopardo, in tracing the dissolution and evolution--both social and psychological--of the Sicilian aristocracy against the backdrop of the defining moment of the Risorgimento, playfully synthesizes the privileged experience of a lifetime's leisurely reading of literature. His reading, uncramped by academic discipline and furthered by what was at the time an unusual linguistic range for an Italian, was wide-ranging and catholic. Indeed, Lampedusa himself declared that, having read almost everything there was to read, he was now envious of younger people who still had bookish surprises in store. (1)
Unsurprisingly, the novel's readers and critics soon latched on to this game of intertextualities. Some of the overt allusions are to specific authors, such as Giulio Carcano, Giovanni Prati, and Aleardo Aleardi. Some of the allusions are implicit, as with Baudelaire and Marx. (2) some are merely playfully onomastic, such as the Ariostesque Angelica and the Tassian Tancredi (combined in one adventure), the Stendhalian Fabrizio, even the name Tassoni (of Cannocchiale aristotelico fame). (3) some of the less obvious relationships, however, are structural, such as the clearly Joycean initial plan for the book as a one-day Palermitan Ulysses, (4) or the dynastic tapestry inspired, dialectically, by Federico De Roberto's unjustly neglected masterpiece I vicere. (5)
A number of these advertised or latent influences can be linked to explicit remarks elsewhere in Tomas, di Lampedusa's writings, for instance in the early pseudonymous newspaper reviews, in the private lessons given in Palermo, or in the late, nostalgic description of the family library, but others remain stranded and unreclaimed in the fiction itself. Given the wealth of intertextual hints, a complex patina of cultural oxidations and deposits often interacting with one another (and on the reader) in a sophisticatedly ironic fashion, it is unsurprising that many of the authors implicitly co-opted into Il Gattopardo remain unacknowledged by subsequent scholarship, while others have been enthusiastically proposed with little substantial evidence to corroborate them. There are sound reasons for believing, nevertheless, that one of these co-opted ghost-writers is none other than Gabriele D'Annunzio.
D'Annunzio is mentioned only once in the novel, and then with considerable irony, late in the story. In the epilogue, fictionally dated igio, Lampedusa pictures a widowed and now decidedly mature Angelica, whose flaws have become more marked with the passage of time. Her pushy veneer of European culture, originally a survival mechanism for an arriviste Sedara in the established but alien world of the Corbera family, has now become an ingrained if shallow snobbism, ostentatiously parading the latest cultural fashions from the 'continente': 'Leggeva molto e sul suo tavolino etpiecenti libri di France e di Bourget si alternavano con quelli di D'Annunzio e della Serao'(p. 260). The indiscriminate piling of Anatole France, Paul Bourget, Gabriele D'Annunzio, and Matilde Serao on the same book-table advertises an unsystematic culture with an amusingly noticeable 'sell-by date', for Lampedusa the narrator is very much judging by the impatient, ideologically intolerant standards of the 19508, and expecting his readers to do likewise. The date 1910, dictated by the fiftieth anniversary of Garibaldi's landing at Marsala, will be significant for another reason, as we shall see.
Earlier in Lampedusa's career, however, D'Annunzio was more in favour. In the Prince's other writings, according to Andrea Vitello, (6) D'Annunzio is mentioned as a 'nome di gloria'in the forgotten article on Yeats which appeared, under the pseudonym G. Aromatisi, in the Genoese monthly review Le Opere e i Giorni of 1926. (7) This obscure periodical, founded by Mario Maria Martini, boasted, on paper at least, that it was edited by Gabriele D'Annunzio. (8) D'Annunzio is also described as the 'grande poeta dell Laudi' in the same Yeats article, and Vitello further claims, without identifying his source, that Lampedusa had been a great admirer of D'Annunzio's propensity for using technical dictionaries. The biographer David Gilmour, too, reports, from an unspecified private conversation with Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, that not only did Lampedusa admire D'Annunzio the author, but he also heartily approved of the poet's military adventures in Flume in 1919. (9)
The particular passage of Il Gattopardo which invites comparison with D'Annunzio is one of the key episodes in the novel. Lampedusa dramatically entitles the section, which is situated at the centre of Chapter 4, 'Il ciclone amoroso'. After their surprise engagement, Tancredi and Angelica's courtship, by a confusion of social codes between mismatched families, is allowed to develop with few of the constraints and chaperonages which would normally apply. (10) The lovers, shaking off the last vestiges of surveillance from Cavriaghi and Mademoiselle Dombreuil, have the free run of the sprawling, decaying palace of Donnafugata, which becomes a strange, timeless labyrinth of love. The Daedalian maze image is explicitly conjured up:
Tancredi voleva the Angelica conoscesse tutto il palazzo nel suo complesso inestricabile di foresterie vecchie e foresterie nuove, appartamenti di rappresentanza, cucine, cappelle, teatri, quadrerie, rimesse odorose di cuoi, scuderie, serre afose, passaggi, anditi, scalette terrazzine e porticati, e soprattutto di una serie di appartamenti smessi e disabitati, abbandonati da decenni e the formavano un intrico labirintico e misterioso. (pp. 159-60, emphasis added)
Though earlier described as extending in from the street some two hundred metres, with a narrow facade seven windows wide, the palace is now portrayed as a Borgesian 'smisurato edificio' (p. 158), 'quasi illimitato' (p. 160). The psychoanalytic potential, especially Jungian, of such a decrepit labyrinthine locus, and of such epochal detritus, would not have been lost on someone married to the first female analyst to practise in Italy." The sexual suggestiveness of the decor is explicit: 'L'architettura, la decorazione stessa rococcon le loro curve impreviste evocavano anche distese e seni eretti: l'aprirsi di ogni portale frusciava come una cortina d'alcova'(p. 158). Lampedusa himself evidently thought that this episode was powerfully written, perhaps even overblown. In his haphazard French, he wrote to his wife Licy, immediately upon completion of the passage:
[...] la deuxieme [partie] (les amours assez poussees de Tancredi et Angelica, leur voyages de decouverte dans l'immense palais de Donnafugata) est tes vive, pas trop mal &rite comme style, mais je crains, d'un 'snobbisme'aigu, et peixta-e un peu trop poetique. (12)
In their secret adventure, Tancredi leads Angelica ever deeper into the mysterious core of the building, discovering apartments long since abandoned, with their decaying furniture and mouldering cultural artefacts still in situ. The frisson of the sinister and old combines tellingly with the thrill of the erotic and new. Symbolically, Angelica is being introduced, one might say sexually co-opted, into the secret and not altogether edifying psychological world of the 'old' families. The frights and mysteries heighten the sense of forbidden fruit: thanatos urges eros, upping the sexual tension until finally the couple are about to consummate their passion, only to be interrupted by the tolling of the church bell immediately above their heads:
e gia la donna resa scarmigliata si off riva, gia il maschio stava per sopraffare l'uomo, quando il boato del campanone della chiesa piomb6 quasi a picco sui loro corpi giacenti, aggiunse il proprio fremito agli altri; le bocche compenetrate dovettero disgiungersi per un sorriso. Si ripresero; e l'indomani Tancredi doveva partire. (p. 165)
Considering Angelica has just, less than innocently ('da bella canaglia the era'), announced 'Sono la tua novizia'(p. 165), (13) they are literally 'saved by the bell'. In Lampedusa's hands, the palace has become an objective correlative for the lovers' convoluted passions and their belated return to self-control.
The baroque description of the palace of Donnafugata has interested both readers and critics, and attempts have been made to compare the description of the Gattopardo apartments with the real palaces Lampedusa had frequented in his childhood. Andrea Vitello, for instance, takes an almost forensic approach, tracing the parallels between individual phrases, whether in the 'Ciclone amoroso'or analogous sections Il Gattopardo, and real details of different buildings and their employees. (14) As Lampedusa's English translator, Archibald Colquhoun, noted, however, the literary palace of Lampedusa appears, on paper, far more extensive than any actual building in Sicily. Lampedusa' s brief, nostalgic re-evocation of his childhood homes, 'I luoghi della mia prima infanzia' in the Racconti, (15) while written in a similar vein to the novel, indicates much more mappable, if still extravagant, domestic spaces, whether the Palermitan Casa Lampedusa or the country Palace of Santa Margherita. Paolo Squillacioti, on the other hand, has considered the locus from an exclusively structuralist perspective, following in the footsteps of Cesare Segre by avoiding real-life comparisons and breaking down the description into declaredly narrative sequences. (16) Ana Rio Fernandez, in a Madrid doctoral thesis now available as an e-print, suggests instead an anthropological-mythological reading, with symbolic values for corridors, stairs, windows, etc. (17)
If the palace is not modelled on a real one, albeit the component building materials may have been borrowed from a number of edifices Lampedusa actually knew, then the search can be quickly transferred to paper palaces. One candidate location has been proposed in Zola. Calvin Brown argues that the adventures of Angelica and Tancredi in Donnafugata parallel those of Serge and Albine in the Paradou gardens, as described in Zola's La Faute de l'abbe Mouret. (18) In particular, Brown notes the identical anti-erotic function of the church bell in both episodes. But there are as many differences as there are similarities. The Paradou is an Edenic park (the sound of Paradou hints, though it is a false etymology, at paradise), and so open air, whereas Donnafugata is a palace, seen from the musty interior. Serge is a priest, timidly breaking his vows of celibacy, whereas Tancredi is a worldly and experienced womanizer (the change from buying a sapphire engagement ring for Angelica has already been spent on a brooch for la Schwarzwald, a dancer). Likewise, Serge and Albine actually consummate their passion, whereas Angelica and Tancredi hold back, on the very brink. Finally, and most tellingly, the Paradou is a metaphor for burgeoning nature, for innocence and spontaneity, away from the dead weight of convention and history, whereas Donnafugata is a metaphor for the perverse erotic attraction of death and decay.
It is, of course, entirely possible that, just as Lampedusa may have combined elements of a number of real palaces to build Donnafugata, he may also have employed fragments from quite diverse paper palaces. Perhaps the gloomy childhood castle of Fratta, from Ippolito Nievo'sLe confessions d'un italiano played its part. Perhaps the Belgian Jean Ray's fantasy masterpieceMalpertuis (1943), set in a strange, anachronistic, and ultimately formless house, had an input. It would also be tempting, for instance, to imagine that Lampedusa, a confirmed anglophile, had read at least the first volume of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy (1946-59), with its largely abandoned Daedalian corridors full of decay, madness, and subterfuge, all soft with dust. Peake's palace, however, is not a locus for eros, but rather for murderous political ambition. That Lampedusa was willing to incorporate English-language literature into Italian domestic architecture is nevertheless evident: in the section on his house in , I luoghi della mia prima infanzia', he compares a Tasso-inspired tapestry (Tancredi and Argante fighting) to the strange animated tapestry in Edgar Allan Poe's macabre taleWetzengerstein. (19)
There is, however, a D'Annunzian text which fulfils both criteria: labyrinthine decay and erotic charge. It is the opening sequence of Forse the si forse the no, the aviation and incest-themed novel published in 1910, coincidentally the same year that the seventy-year-old Angelica piles modish D'Annunzio novels on her reading-table. It is the work which most shows D'Annunzio's obsession with dictionaries, particularly technical ones (the very feature Lampedusa professed to admire). (20)
Forse che si forse che no is a long, frequently fascinating debate, in fictional form, on the competing attractions of modernity and decadence, ambition and sensuality. It begins fittingly with a car chase. The aviator Paolo Tarsis is driving his prospective lover, Isabella, towards Mantua, pursued in another car by Isabella's sister Vana and her younger brother Aldo. As the novel unfolds, we will learn that Vana is jealous of Isabella, because she too is hopelessly infatuated with Paolo, and the foppish Aldo may or may not have an incestuous crush on his older sister Isabella. This first episode serves, therefore, to establish the complicated ballet of constantly recomposing emotions between the four.
After a deliberate brush with death, narrowly avoiding a timber waggon, the lovers, and eventually the other two siblings, stop at the ducal palace in Mantua and are let in, out of opening hours, by a reluctant guardian, described as 'barbuto e canuto, [...] la figura volgare del Tempo senza clessidra ne falce' (p. 16). The date, insistently referred to, is the summer solstice, a moment of suspension of time. We have now passed to the other pole of the discussion: after virile, automobile modernity and movement comes dusty, libidinous decadence and entrapment. What follows is an erotically charged game of hide-and-seek in the empty apartments. Decay and sensuality go hand in hand from the outset. The insistent maze motif (and the first edition reproduced the maze-device from the palace ceiling as an illustration to this chapter) is a direct allusion to the myth of Icarus and Daedalus which informs the aviation part of the novel. (21) As in the fourth dithyramb sequence of D'Annunzio's earlieAlcyone (1903), male adoption of heavier-than-air flight will eventually offer risky escape from the prison of female sensuality, represented by the labyrinth. Paolo and Isabella are the first to enter the maze, described in terms which announce death:
E si presero per mano, trascolorati, senza parola, vinti da un amore ch'era pu grande del loro amore, come per entrare nella casa della loro unica anima o delle loro ombre congiunte. La for felicita terribile non plu si tendeva a mordere il dolore ma ad ascoltare il grido della bellezza dilaniata e derelitta. Pareti e volte decrepite; vecchie tele sfondate; tavole e seggiole sgangherate dalle gambe d'oro misere; tappezzerie lacere accanto a intonachi the si scrostavano, a mattoni the si sgretolavano; vasti letti pomposi riflessi da specchi foschi; impalcature alzate a reggere i soffitti; e l'odore della muff a risecca e l'odore della calcina fresca; e pel vano d'una finestra due torri rosse nel cielo, un cigolio di passeri, uno schiamazzo di monelli; e pel vano d'un'altra una strada deserta, una chiesa senza preghiere, il picchierellare di due stampelle; e appeso un lampadario a gocciole di cristallo, e obliqua una striscia di sole sul pavimento; e un altro lampadario e un'altra striscia, e pu triste la cosa lucida the l'estinta; e ancora lampadarii in fila, guasti, pencolanti, simili a fragili scheletri congelati. O desolazione, desolazione senza bellezza! (22)
The endless row of now useless light-fittings creates a mi se en abyme, sucking the lovers further into the palace, further into the vortex of their emotions. The loss of identity provoked by this inner exploration and surrender leads even to the confusion of seeing their own reflections in the flaking mirrors and mistaking them for the following brother and sister. (23) The link between decadence and desire becomes explicit:
La desolazione si trasfigurava. Si mutavano ora in lembi di melodia patetici come i gridi del desiderio e dello spasimo le vaghe onde di musica ondeggianti intorno alle rose bianche dell'orto pensile. La ruina, liberata dai vestigi della vania e della miseria intruse, respirava nell'antica grandezza per tutte le bocche delle sue ferite, respirava e soffriva e moriva anelante verso il piu lungo giorno. Tutti i segni erano eloquenti, tutti i fantasmi cantavano. Le Vittorie mostravano l'anima di ferro sotto gli stucchi disgregati, e non piu la corona fronzuta tendevano ma il cerchio di rugginoso ferro. Le Aquile sublimi abbrancavano i festoni di frutti putrefatti e caduchi.
Ella andava andava, esitando tra l'una e l'altra stanza, non sapendo in quale l'anima sua forse per trarre un piu profondo sospiro. E le stanze si moltiplicavano; e la bellezza si avvicendava con la ruina, e la ruina era piu bella della bellezza. (pp. 20-21)
Finally, after visiting further decrepit apartments, peering into rotting gardens and courtyards, after feverishly choosing then rejecting rooms for realizing their tryst, they see, inscribed as a motto in the 'Sala dei labirinti', the repeated gilded device 'Forse the si forse the no' snaking through the channels of the maze carved in the ceiling. It is a textual symbol of their amorous tipping-point, their 'Paolo and Francesca' moment, where reading written words leads to a surrender to a violent but hitherto unspoken passion:
Ella leggeva con gli occhi torbidi la parola spaventosa inscritta innumerevoli volte, tra le vie dedalee, nei campi oltremarini.
--Forse forse forse ...
Gli disse quella parola entro la bocca, sotto la lingua; gliela disse entro la gola, alla sommita del cuore; che egli le aveva preso con le dita il mento e con le labbra il fiato, il piu profondo fiato, quello the sanno le vene i sogni i pensieri.
Allora furono due creature the allucinate e riarse per un deserto di mobili dune giungono col medesimo anelito alla cisterna occulta e insieme vi discendono, vi si precipitano, si protendono verso l'acqua the non vedono, nell'angustia si urtano, si dibattono; e ciascuna vuol bere prima e di piu, e sente dietro le sue labbra molli crescere la rabbia mordace, e l'ombra e l'acqua e il sangue sono al suo delirio un solo sapore notturno. (p. 23)
The kisses are so violent that gums and lips are lacerated by dental contact and blood is drawn and tasted. In the midst of their embrace, however, Isabella's sister Vana comes upon the lovers. Initially she is taken for yet another self-image in the mirror, but the reality of her jealous and appalled presence prises the lovers apart:
Un gran sobbalzo la distacco dall'amante. E le sue palpebre gravi battevano per respingere la nube addensata, per riacquistare il lume, per distinguere il fantasma dalla presenza certa. Era ancora l'imagine nello spcchio? era ancora to sguardo della follia negli occhi suoi divenuti estranei? era il pallore stesso della sua perdizione, quello? Ah, non credeva di poter essere tanto livida!
Era Vana, Vana nel colore della morte ma respirante, appoggiata contro to stipite come chi sia per stramazzare, aperti gli occhi come chi non possa plu serrarli. Era la sua piccola sorella. (p. 25)
Vana summons Aldo to join them, and Isabella mops her wounded lip, amidst insistent questioning from Aldo. Isabella and her brother then play a contrived charade, assuming the characters and the charged dialogue of the original inhabitants of the palace. It is a cultural, intellectual, and erotic game of aesthetic allusions which excludes the 'practical' and manly Paolo Tarsis. The conver sation continues as the foursome reaches a point in the palace where there is access from a large window to the world outside. The claustrophobic spell of the palace is briefly dissolved by contact with the open air and by the sounds and smells of nature. Aldo then notices, for the first time, that Tarsis has a small trace of Isabella's blood between his teeth. It dawns on him that there has been a physical rival--in real rather than imagined time--for his sibling affection. Devastated, he dashes back into the heart of palace, gets lost in the warren of passageways, calls desperately for help from Isabella, but is finally rediscovered by his sister Vana. In relief, they embrace. It is an iteration of the theme already played out by Paolo and Isabella, but without the safety-net of worldly experience. The dynamic parallelisms and complex erotic cross-currents, underlined by the mirror images, insinuated by the suggestive historical dialogue, are made fully clear by this last substitutive intimacy. D'Annunzio leaves us in suspense: there is no explanation of how the group leaves the ducal palace. What immediately follows is a jump back to the world of speed and modernity, a compressed and visionary history of aviation, the manly sport which provides for Paolo Tarsis a healthy counterpoint to the perverse charms of Isabella. The message is clear: the past and the future, seduction and heroism, are incompatible choices.
D'Annunzio visited Mantua twice to map out the adventures of Paolo Tarsis, Isabella, and her siblings: once in 1907 and again in 1909. The second time was, one gathers, something of a disappointment. The immediate reactions to his visits are summarily recorded in his Taccuini (especially notebooks 48-50 and 55), (24) and the conversion of these impressions into the developed account in Forse the si forse the no has been the object of a detailed study by Blanca Tamassia Mazzarotto. (25) The ducal palace was, in 1907 and 1909 when D'Annunzio visited it, about to undergo state-funded restoration, after decades of disastrous neglect which had started at the unification of Italy. Much of the interior was shabby and decrepit, with insecure floor-tiles, rotting joists, and peeling ceilings, and the gardens and courtyards were overgrown and rubbish-filled.
Lampedusa's palace of Donnafugata presents many of the decadent, overblown features of D'Annunzio's ducal palace at Mantua. There is the same emphasis on decay and damp, on long, confusing corridors, on stairs between levels, on concealment and even getting lost, on hinted reconstructions, in out-of-the-way corners, of how life had been led. There is consequently the same stratagem of urgent re-orientation via glimpses out of windows and doorways into darkened rooms, blind courtyards, and forgotten gardens. There is the same suffocating sense of the past, represented by faded artwork, whose lugubrious atmosphere of memento mori only serves to whet the appetite of the lovers. In both texts, there is a palpable sense of release from enchantment upon exit from the palace. Perhaps, most of all, there is the same mysterious sense of temporary suspension from chronological time.
In Forse the si forse the no, the release from the spell occurs after a symbolic encounter: as the four wander through empty echoing hallways, through a curtain of cobwebs they espy on the flagstones a bat and a lizard (p. 43). Frightened by the footsteps, the one scuttles away and the other takes wing. It is a macabre signal that the metaphorical realm of the night has been vanquished. Almost immediately, the day returns:
--Sempre si rinnova l'incanto?
Si sporse nell'aperta loggia l'adolescente con un profondo respiro.
--La bellezza non ha pieta di noi? non ci da tregua?
Tutti respiravano verso il cielo di Vergilio, ricevevano l'immensa pace sul petto in tumulto.
--Il giorno senza fine.
Un alito fresco saliva dai salci dalle canne dai giunchi, prossimo come quel d'una bocca silvana the abbia bevuto a gorgate il gelo della fonte senza asciugarsi.
--Che faremo? Che faremo? (p. 43)
The implication is clear: even though Aldo, with his highly developed imagination, persists in believing they are visiting 'Paradiso' (pp. 28, 35), the four people have in fact been visiting the underworld and are, only now, back in the world of the living. There are strong hints, at this point, of the opening passage of Dante's Purgatorio with its return to the light and the air and even cleansing 'giunchi' (Purg., 1. 95). For Vana and Aldo, however, the respite is only temporary, and a chance realization, by each one in turn, that the objects of their separate loves have turned their affections elsewhere will propel them back into the labyrinth of the 'irremeabile ruina' (p. 46), mentioned twice, with ominously repetitive surrounding phrasing, as if revisiting the same places a second time round.
Lampedusa's palace will also be, metaphorically, both an 'inferno' and a 'paradiso'(p. 164). When Angelica and Tancredi issue from the 'foresteria vecchia' they are obliged, like Dante on the shores of Purgatory, to wash their faces of the accumulated dirt. Once cleansed, they are free to indulge in innocent banter, not steamy romance: 'la sera a pranzo i due pin innamorati erano i due piu sereni [...] e si divertivano a ironizzare sulle manifestazioni amorose degli altri, pur tanto minori' (p. 167).
More importantly, though, there are situational parallels between the two books in terms of narrative economy. For instance, the foursome of Paolo Tarsis, Isabella, Vana, and Aldo in Forse the si forse the no is reproduced, in a minor key and only partly realized, in the pairings of Tancredi and Angelica, Cavriaghi and Concetta in Il Gattopardo. Both foursomes contain subterranean currents of jealousy and rivalry, though Lampedusa does not dwell on them as D'Annunzio does. His Cavriaghi abandons the maze of Donnafugata to go looking limply in the garden for an unresponsive Concetta, thrust upon him by a calculating Tancredi who had grown tired of her or has worked out the financial advantage of another match.
Both authors' episodes make substantial use of music and visual arts. In D'Annunzio, the musical references are insistent. Paolo and Isabella's passage through the building, and through their passions, is likened repeatedly to a symphonic development, building up to a crescendo. (26) Even the sound of a wandering bee is put to use, becoming the 'bourdon', or lowest string of a viol. However, the most detailed musical development occurs in the historical charade, where the musically gifted younger brother, Aldo, shows off his superior culture in the 'Studiolo' of the historical Isabella, with its marquetry of musical instruments, including a lute, a dulcimer, and a set of virginals, while virtual musical scores are stored in the trompe l'aeikupboards. A long parade of antiquarian erudition results, as the songs of a past era are evoked for the benefit of the present Isabella. Four song-writers are mentioned: Giovanni Battista Mazzaferrata, Thibaud de Champagne, Gerolamo Belli d'Argenta, and Ben Jonson. D'Annunzio's apparently impressive eclecticism here is actually the result of attending a recital at Zurich in 1899 given by his friend, the early-music revivalist Arnold Dolmetsch, and his second wife Elodie (whom D'Annunzio typically and revealingly called Melodie), where these vocal pieces were on the programme.
Though favouring the Baudelairean language of voyage, 27 Il Gattopardo also presents the music of eros, as a device book-ending the episode. At the outset the two Salina girls, wallflowers Carolina and Caterina, 'tenevano assai bene la loro parte nella sinfonia dei desideri' (p. 158). At the end, the brief interlude of happiness in the relationship between Tancredi and Angelica is described:
come quelle sinfonie the sopravvivono alle opere dimenticate cui appartengono e the contengono accennate con la loro giocosita velata di pudore, tutte quelle arie the poi nell'opera dovevano essere sviluppate senza destreza, e fallire (p. 165).
The Prince of Lampedusa was a reluctant melomane, according to David Gilmour. (28) He was a literature buff who did not take music, particularly opera, that seriously, despite sometimes assiduous frequentation of the Politeama theatre. In Lampedusa's hands, therefore, the music of yesteryear is evoked more humbly and more amusingly by the discovery (p. 162) of four antique music boxes (like the four resuscitated songwriters in D'Annunzio), only one of which is still in working order. It tinnily plays for the lovers the refrain from Rossini's lively vocal piece 'Il carnevale di Venezia'(1821), which provides the ideal, suggestively urgent tempo for their rhythmic kisses long after the clockwork has run down.
Gestures, too, show distinct parallelisms between the two books. At one point in the 'Studiolo'of Isabella d'Este, D'Annunzio engineers a small sequence where Isabella and Aldo's charade has turned from music, via pictures and clothes, to masks. Aldo asks Isabella to open a cupboard, to find if any masks are still there:
--Se ne ritrovassi qualcuna dentro gli armadoi?
--Una vecchia maschera, una vecchia veste, una vecchia catena. Apri, apri. Ella aperse. Le ributt6 il triste odore.
--E pieno di ragnateli-disse, e richiuse.
--Sono certo i ricami portentosi di quella femminetta greca the avesti da Costanza d'Avalos.
E fu l'ultimo sorriso della finzione; ch dall'armadio aperto un soffio di malinconia s'era diffuso [...].
--Andiamo, andiamo. (p. 42, emphasis added)
Pandora's box has been opened, and the stark, anti-erotic reality of fusty senescence has been let out, breaking the imaginative spell. A similar incident happens in Il Gattopardo. Angelica and Tancredi have wandered up a hidden staircase, have passed through a soundproofed door, and have entered a suite of rooms which the author, without being explicit, wishes us to interpret as an abandoned locale for sadism and nameless debauchery, a possibility already adumbrated earlier as 'quegli oscuri piaceri nei quali si era compiaciuto il Settecento agonizzante' (p. 158).
Tancredi, inquieto, non volle the Angelica toccasse un armadio a muro del salotto; to schiuse lui stesso. Era profondissimo [...] Tancredi ebbe paura, anche di se stesso, comprese di aver raggiunto il nucleo segreto centro d'irradiazione delle irrequietudini carnali del palazzo. 'Andiamo via, cara, qui non c'e niente d'interessante.' (p. 163, emphasis added)
Both sequences end with exactly the same verbal exhortation, 'andiamo'. Similarly close parallels can be found in the central kiss sequences. In D'Annunzio, Paolo and Isabella wander from room to room, on erotic tenterhooks, with each doorway potentially a prelude to the defining moment of embrace. A number of rooms do not live up to their promise: Isabella will on one occasion warn her companion: 'No, Paolo, no! Non qui, non qui! Vi supplico'(p. 22, emphasis added). Finally, however, under the motto-gilded maze, with its erotically significant partial decipherment by Isabella: 'Forse, forse, forse'(p. 23), the temptation proves too strong. The resulting kiss is violent:
Sente dietro le sue labbra molli crescere la rabbia mordace, e l'ombra e l'acqua e il sangue sono al suo delirio un solo sapore notturno. [...] ed entrambi sentivano la durezza dei denti nelle gengive the sanguinavano. E arrossato da una sola piccola goccia era tutto il fiume carnale the fluiva nel mondo. (p. 24)
The same kind of carnal hide-and-seek takes place in Donnafugata. Angelica has been hiding behind a cobwebbed portrait, and is grabbed around the waist, Minos-like, (29) by Tancredi. It is not the right place, or rather not quite the right place, for Angelica to cede to his desires: 'venne avvinghiata e stretta, e rimase una etternita a dire "No, Tancredi, no," diniego the era un invito' (p. 161, emphasis added). Later, however, having passed through the secret laboratory of sadism, and into the equally disturbing penitential quarters of the Duca-Santo, with its baroquely charged Christ bleeding on the cross, Tancredi, worked up by the carnality of the holy image, just as he had been, obscurely, by the previous laboratory, offers a practical explanation to the still uncomprehending Angelica:
E poiche Angelica non capiva ed alzato il capo sorrideva, bella ma vacua, lui si chino e cosi genuflessa corn'era le diede un aspro bacio the la fece gemere perch feri il labbro e le raschio il palato. (p. 164)
Lampedusa clearly meant the kiss to have left a violent imprint. To do this, he creates a consciously parallel structure. After their dusty tryst, the two young people are sent to clean up, separately: the boy with his friend Cavriaghi, the girl with the governess Mademoiselle Dombreuil--both of them failures in their own erotic quests. As they are each in turn upbraided for their foolhardiness, the lovers cannot help turning their thoughts to the pleasures they have just experienced. Tancredi's thoughts are reported in free indirect discourse: 'E poi quell' Angelica: quel gusto soavissimo di sangue oggi, quando le aveva morso l'interno del labbro'(p. 166). As if in psy&response, the girl's lip is described as hurting her as she cleans herself in her boudoir, removing the soot and cobwebs (and thinking of Tancredi): 'E il labbro le doleva ancora' (p. 167).
As with the cupboard episodes, the coincidences here between Forse the si forse the no and Il Gattopardo are conspicuous. The initial reluctance to succumb to passion is couched in exactly the same verbal formula, expressed by the woman: the name embedded between two negatives. Later on, the desired kisses are even anatomically similar in their sanguinary and exploratory violence. Finally, both D'Annunzio and Lampedusa include a reminder of the event. Indeed, in D'Annunzio, the handkerchief used to mop up the blood will become a recurrent motif.
To sum up, the similarities between D'Annunzio's real ducal palace at Mantua and Lampedusa's imaginary palace at Donnafugata are, as we have seen, striking, and very probably not attributable to mere chance. Clearly, however, there is more than D'Annunzio' Forse che si forse che no behind Lampedusa's 'Ciclone amoroso' episode, and so the differences between the texts are also noteworthy. Even though both authors are using their labyrinths as metaphors of the psyche, and are consciously playing with the notion of entrapment, the psychology of the protagonists is very different. Lampedusa's couple is essentially shallow: the attraction of the perverse is temporary, and the pull of the outside world is strong. The palace with its faded sensual decoration and hidden secrets-offers a series of glimpses of tragic passion a outrance, but it is a vision which the sanely selfish and practical characters are only momentarily seduced by (though Isabella will succumb spectacularly to madness later in the novel). Tancredi and Angelica are, in the last analysis, only brief tourists in the realm of decadence. Ultimately they free themselves: 'ritornavano nel mondo dei viventi dal loro esilio nell'universo dei vizi estinti, delle virtu dimenticate' (p. 166). D'Annunzio's foursome, on the other hand, is in the grip of a preexistent crisis of morbid intensity, with a remorseless, decadentist dynamic of rivalry and obsession. The ducal palace at Mantua, with its mirrors and its iterativeness, serves as a metaphor for the complex game of affective substitutions. The building reveals the true nature of the characters, magnifying, like an echo chamber, their obsessive pathology. The first couple, consisting of the worldly Isabella and Paolo, nevertheless has some degree of independence in the labyrinth, which they can use for their own calculating ends, but the palace's psychic contagion virulently spreads to the other two, younger, more innocent, and lacking in immunity. Aldo and Vana end up hopelessly lost: both literally and figuratively.
The real significance of the likely borrowings from Forse the si forse the no is twofold. On the one hand they add an unexpected and hitherto uncatalogued name to the already long list of authors Lampedusa was enriched by when writing his masterpiece. On the other, because the borrowings are so numerous, and so careful, and so elaborately engineered to fit, they provide an excellent illustration of a modus incorporandi at work, as Lampedusa deftly weaves the worn threads of a dated (and by the 19508 largely discarded) novel into a new and powerful tapestry. It is what Lampedusa actually does with his D'Annunzian source, rather than the source's provenance or original values, which marks him out as a quite exceptional writer.
UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
(1) The sentiment is reported by Francesco Orlando, Ricordo di Lampedusa (Milan: Scheiwiller, 1963), P. 17.
(2) A convenient and complete listing of textual references to, and explicit or implicit quotations from, literary works in Il Gattopardo can be found in Daniel Devoto, 'Souvenirs, musique et pesie dans un roman historique'Revue de litterature comparee, 38 (1964), 414-25 (P. 418). The literary culture (or lack of it) of Don Fabrizio, in counterpoint to Lampedusa'sown highly developed one, is discussed by Arnaldo Di Benedetto, 'Tomasi di Lampedusa e la letteratura (vedute parziali)', Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, 170 (1993), 38-65.
(3) For a subtle discussion of the far from straightforward use of these onomastic signals, see Giulio Ferroni, 'Angelica e le sirene', iGiuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: cento anni dalla nascita, quaranta dal Gattopardo, ed. by Francesco Orlando (Palermo: Assessorato alla cultura, 1999), pp. 217-27. Lampedusa actually gives the game away with Tassoni: 'al nome di Tassoni pem tacque. Rivedeva la scena, lontanissima ma chiara, come 66 the si scorge in un cannocchiale rovesciato'(Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il gattopardo: nuova edizione riveduta, ed. by Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi (Milan: Feltrinelli, 2002), p. 260). Ferroni sees past the Tassoni reference, identifying the equally obvious (and no doubt intentionally so) reference to the relativizing Pirandellian motif of the telescope seen from the wrong end in 'La tragedia d'un personaggio'. All further references the Gattopardo will be to the Lanza Tomasi edition.
(4) See Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi's personal recollection in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il Gattopardo, p. 9: 'L'esame del dattiloscritto conferma i miei ricordi circa l'ordine di scrittura. Quando aveva cominciato, Lampedusa mi disse: "Saranno ventiquattr'ore della vita di mio bisnonno il giorno dello sbarco di Garibaldi", e, dopo qualche tempo; "non so fare l'Ulysses".'
(5) On Lampedusa's own perception of debt and differentiation with regard to De Roberto's novel, seethe recently rediscovered letter to Enrico Merlo quoted in Lanza Tomasi's introduction, p. 22. On the elements in common between the novels, see Tom O'Neill, 'Lampedusa and De Roberto', Italica, 4 (1970),'70-82. Luigi Russo, on the other hand, in his' Analisi de Gattopardo' Belfagor, 15 (1960), 513-30, had considered the parallels to be superficial. For the latest comparison of the twin influences of Stendhal and De Roberto, see Giuseppe Maria Tosi, 'I buoni e i cattivi esempi: Il Gattopardo fra La Chartreuse de Parme e I vicere' Rivista di studi italiani, 18 (2000), 169-83.
(6) Andrea Vitello, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Palermo: Sellerio, 1987), pp. 80, 184, 186.
(7) G. Aromatisi, Scritti ritrovati, with a foreword by Francesco D'Orsi Meli and introduction by Andrea Vitello (Palermo: Flaccovio, 1993)
(8) See Vitello, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, p. 75, where he also quotes a letter from D'Annunzio to Martini about the publication: 'Una rivista giovane, fresca, rapida, acuta, pota raccogliere in se le forze the oggi faticosamente sfangano nel tenace vilume.'
(9) David Gilmour, The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (London: Quartet, 1988), P. 36.
(10) See Derek Duncan, 'Lifting the Veil: Metaphors of Sexual Exclusion Il Gattopardo', Forum for Modern Language Studies, 29 (1993),323-34 (P. 324): 'The courtship of Angelica and Tancredi proceeds unhindered by normal limits of decorum as each class misreads and then acquiesces to what it believes to be the sexual manners of the other.'
(11) Knowledge of Jung was well seated: leaving aside publications in other European languages, which Lampedusa read fluently, it is likely that Lampedusa had been able to read Carl Jung and Karoly Kereny's Prolegomena allo studio scientifico della mitologia (Turin: Boringhieri, 1940). For an expert psychoanalytical examination of ruins and detritus in Western literature, see Francesco Orlando, Gli oggetti desueti nelle immagini della letteratura: rovine, reliquie, rarita, robaccia, luoghi inabitati e tesori nascosti (Turin: Einaudi, 1993). The section on Lampedusa's depiction of Donnafugata is on pp. 460-64.
(12) The letter, of 9 July 1956, is quoted in Lanza Tomasi's introduction tdl Gattopardo, pp. 13-14. For Lampedusa's correspondence with his wife, see Caterina CardonaLettere a Licy: un matrimonio epistolare (Palermo: Sellerio, 1987); Sabino Caronia, Licy e il Gattopardo: lettere d'amore di Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (Rome: Edizioni Associate, 1995).
(13) Angelica is referring to the salacious story told, over the dinner table, by Tancredi about taking refuge in a convent during the fighting for Palermo.
(14) Vitello, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, pp. 282-90.
(15) Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Racconti (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1976), pp. 77-132.
(16) Paolo Squillacioti, 'Commentare il romanzo: nelle stanze abbandonate de Gattopardo', Per leggere, 3 (2003),131-59.
(17) Ana Rio Fernandez, 'La configuracion del espacio en la obra de Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa' (unpublished doctoral thesis, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 2002) (http://www.ucm. es/eprints/4604/) [accessed 10 March 20071, especially pp. 228-45.
(18) Calvin S. Brown, 'Parallel Incidents in Emile Zola and Tomasi di Lampedusa', Comparative Literature, 15 (1963), 193-202.
(19) See Tomasi di Lampedusa, Racconti, p. 102: 'in essa vi erano otto grandi "succhi d'erbe", su argomenti tratti dalla Gerusalemme liberata. In uno di essi, rappresentante il duello equestre fra Tancredi e Argante, uno dei due cavalli aveva uno sguardo stranamente umano the io dovevo poi riallacciare al Metzengerstein di Poe.' For the detailed examination of another similar case of appropriation and subtle dialogue between reported works of art and the thematics of the novel, see Jeffrey Meyers, 'Greuze and Lampedusa's "Il Gattopardo"', MLR, 69 (1974), 308-15.
(20) This aspect of D'Annunzio's writing received very suggestive treatment in Mario Praz's essay 'D'Annunzio e l'amor sensuale della parola', the final chapter in his epochal La carne, la morte e il diavolo nella letteratura romantica (Milan: La Cultura, 1930). Given the furore caused by Benedetto Croce'stroncatura of this very chapter, it seems highly likely that the ever curious Lampedusa would have read it.
(21) For the labyrinth motif, generally, in D'Annunzio, see Emerico Giachery, Verga e D'Annunzio (Milan: Silvae, 1968), pp. 214-65, and Aldo Rossi, 'D'Annunzioe il Novecento: I) Natura versus cultura: il parco e il labirinto'Paragone-Letteraturo, n.s. 42 (1968), 23-54.
(22) Gabriele D'Annunzio, Forse che si forse che no, ed. by Raffaella Castagnola for the Fondazione 'Il Vittoriale degli Italiadi (Milan: Mondadori, 1998), p. 18. All further references toForse the si forse the no will be to this edition.
(23) On the obsessive mirror theme in D'Annunzio, see Luigi Testaferrata, 'Da "Primo vere" alle "Laudi": un ragionamento sugh specchi', inConvegno su Gabriele D'Annunzio: il testo e la sua elaborazione (= Quaderni del Vittoriale, 5-6 (1977)), pp. 48-66.
(24) The Taccuini have been published by Enrica Bianchetti as part of the collection Tutte le opere di Gabriele D'Annunzic (Milan: Mondadori, 1965), with a second set, Altri taccuini, published in 1976; the notebooks cited are in the first volume.
(25) Blanca Tamassia Mazzarotto, Le arti figurative nell'arte di Gabriele D'Annunzio (Milan: Bocca, 1949), PP. 195-200.
(26) See, for instance, in addition to the passage already quoted on p. 734 above('si mutavanoora in lembi di melodia [...]') Forse the si fosse the no, p. 19: 'Non disgiunsero le mani; stettero in ascolto come per cogliere vaghe onde di musica [...] Credeva di udire il preludio indistinto d'una musica the tra breve fosse per irrompere con la veemenza del torrente'; p. 21: 'E gli occhi si dilatavano per tutto vedere, per tutto accogliere; e l'intero viso viveva la vita dello sguardo. E l'anima si ricordava; the le forme scomparse rinascevano e si ricomponevano in lei musicalmente'; p. 23: 'D'improvviso rientravano nell'azzurro e nell'oro, riudivano la melodia dominante, rivedevano splendere il piu lungo giorno'; p. 30: 'Ascolta l'ape. L'artefice studiosa era passata nella saletta contigua; e il bombo pareva cambiar tono, farsi plu sonoro, come moltiplicato da una tavola armonica, simulando il vibrare della corda bassa'; p 31: 'Entravano nella cassa dorata d'un clavicembalo?'; p. 32:'Pareva the tutto divenisse musica'; p. 34: 'Ma to spirito musicale di quella pittura ci etArin cuore'; p. 35 'Stanotte avremo la pu grande sinfonia di rane the mai si possa udire. Le rane mantovane sono famosissime: superano perfino le ravennati in arte armonica'.
(27) 'Voyages de dcouverte'is the expression used in the quoted letter to Licy on completion of the episode. Lampedusa uses the term at the beginning and end of the 'Ciclone amoroso' sequence: see Il Gattopardo, p. 160: 'I due s'imbarcavano verso Citera su una nave fatta di camere cupe e di camere solatie'; p. 166: 'navigando in quell'oceano dlaisze'. With characteristic skill, Lampedusa is providing a palimpsest between Watteau's two paintingsMerinage a Cythere and Embarcation pour Cythere, and Baudelaire's sinister, Neval-inspired poem 'Un voyagea Cythere' from Les Fleurs du mal.
(28) See Gilmour, The Last Leopard, pp. 100-03.
(29) See Dante, Inf., v. 6: 'Giudica e manda secondo the avvinghia'. Minos is, of course, the guardian of the circle of the lustful, including Paolo and Francesca. Lampedusa, if using Forse che si forse che no as a subtext, would also be aware of the relationship between the Minos myth and the legend of Icarus and Daedalus.
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|Title Annotation:||Gabriele D'Annunzio's 'Forse che si forse che no'|
|Publication:||The Modern Language Review|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2008|
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