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La piu semplice macchina: Lettura freudiana del 'Pasticciaccio'.

La piu semplice macchina: Lettura freudiana del 'Pasticciaccio'. By FERDINANDO AMIGONI. Bologna: Il Mulino. 1995. 192 pp. 11 [pounds sterling].

Titanic, meandering, 'immane residuo', as it has been called, Quer pasticciaccio brutto de' via Merulana (1957), Gadda's last novel and masterpiece, still spares no end of exegetic mess to those who dare enter its formal tangle (and yet again be caught exploiting its catchwords). 'L'inventore e uno che non trascura rapporti apparsi alli altri insignificanti', so Gadda has it in his Meditazione milanese. And so the scholar would wish it to be at each renewed critical exploration of Gadda's monstrum. Significant pattern and cohesion, however, seem to have been scarce to come by or hard not to overlook in the nearly forty years since Emilio Cecchi recommended a vertical reading of the Pasticciaccio's disconcerting score. Research has had to remain a strictly horizontal affair, and its poetics that of disconnectedness and dispersion. A 'foltissima polifonia', in Cecchi's words, it may well intuitively feel. Yet, its actual orts and fragments, the 'rimasugli' and 'minuzzoli' which, like the inordinate toes of the two discoloured frescoed saints in Chapter 8, clutter our sense of pattern, in the end do tame the philologist, the philosopher, even the psychoanalyst. Scholars from opposing walks of literary criticism have indeed engaged with this later Gadda on macro issues of gnoseology, morality, the subconscious, language, textual variants (Agosti, Andreini, Benedetti, De Benedictis, De Matteis, Stellardi, to list recent notable contributors), and have thus developed and managed codes of analytical practice/survival. But staying perched, as it were, outside the text/swamp, one can at best gaze over surface activity. 'Gli elementi della trama non sono legati da rapporti causali solidi. Il flusso della causalita e labile e sorregge solo alcuni fatti marginali', says Carla Benedetti for instance, in her Una trappola di parole (Pisa: ETS, 1987).

Challenging received opinion (that is, those aerial reconnaissances that reclaim only the broken line and then flee from the material oneness of the text), Ferdinando Amigoni's monograph promises to unveil (in Quer Pasticciaccio!) the simplest of narrative engines: simple, as in functional, as in purposely, if not economically, run. His method, of provocative metaphor, is that of life in enclosed orders, constant rereading and patient data-filing having become the ora et labora of the quasi monastic critic. I could not agree more with Amigoni's proposed approach. Yes, Gadda conceals but also signposts. Yes, his taxing lexical precision is matched by equally taxing structural devices. Yes, 'a chi e disposto a indugiare tra "rimasugli" e "minuzzoli" puo capitare'. With a preface delivering forceful statements of intentions and the opening chapter producing the first findings on the novel's temporal, spatial, and causal organization, this latest arrival, one begins to suspect, could prove an important addition to the Gaddian bookshelf.

Extra tempus? Possibly, Amigoni argues, contrasting Meditazione and Pasticciaccio. However, in the hic et nunc of Gadda's discourse the clearly marked temporal linearity, the millimetric spatial mapping-out of 'Roma e dintorni' leave no door open to 'un'ermeneutica a soluzioni multiple'. Infinite narration inhabits the mind of God alone; our writer's more modest engine is, instead, ultimately governed by the human number two. Two are in fact the crimes, the enquiries, the solutions. Not only that: characters, objects, and places also come in twos. Further still, the number appears to be embedded in the prose itself, as in the description of the tabernacle to the Due Santi. 'E strano che partendo dall'infinito Gadda arrivi a rappresentare la liberta morale sempre come una scelta tra due sistemi', Amigoni's main debate concludes. And it makes excellent reading on a great variety of points. Liliana's dead body could never count as metafiction? In a real-to-the-inch geography, the toponym Pavona links murder to narcissism, murderess to victim? Assunta and Liliana share a homosexual neurotic syndrome, and a coherent proscription from the text between end of prologue and resolution? Rings, Liliana's little-noticed wedding-ring and her even less noticed gem-changing opal bloodstone, as well as Menegazzi's more conspicuous topaz, establish a subtle chromatic symbolism on the victims' heterosexuality? The enthusiastic sampling could and should indeed go on, but I must allow for some constructive criticism.

In the undeclared contest with Guido Lucchini's L'istinto della combinazione (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1988), Amigoni has in fact overstretched undeniable 'probabilita intertestuali' to prove Gadda a better reader of Freud in the 1940s. For, although with Pasticciaccio, via Eros e Priapo, Gadda appears to have turned more decidedly Freudian in his terminology, feminine narcissism, by symptoms if not by name, is already active as the ultimate culprit in much earlier narrative: that is, in narrative of lesser of no Freudian awareness. I would therefore invite Amigoni to reconsider. No doubt, Chief Inspector Ingravallo has read of, should one not say rather, has been made to read Zur Einfuhrung des Narzissmus and, intellectually at least, can test on a verdict of personal innocence in that awful mess of Via Merulana. However, to be fair to Cognizione (which I find Amigoni has not been), to be fair even to Racconto italiano, Gadda's unsuccessful first grappling with the novel form, the very same culprit, mother's narcissism, is always brought to poetic justice, thanks to the very same metaphorical clues and structural dynamics: the adoptions, the gems, the melancholy; the temporal and spatial settings; the number two. Given Gadda's own stance ('Il discorso veto dell'anima tende a venire a galla. Il libero arbitrio non vi ha governo, o poco: e non e pace fino alla pace raggiunta'), and Amigoni's vows, I would have thought that at some stage an all-Gaddian intertextuality would have tempted our monk. Instead, I have to say, I have seen him account for one simple engine but disregard all others; attempt the vertical reading and suddenly withdraw to horizontal pursuits, as in the quite unsatisfactory paragraphs on Gadda--Dostoevsky--Celine. None the less, this does remain a most remarkable book; should I learn, then, from Quer Pasticciaccio's last two words, and almost repent?

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Author:Pedriali, Federica G.
Publication:The Modern Language Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1997
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