Notions of tradition and modernity in Italian critical debates of the 1920s
This thesis explores various redefinitions of the notions of tradition and modernity in the Italian critical debates of the 1920s. In the years immediately following the war and throughout the 1920s the problem of the redefinition of the concepts of tradition and modernity appears to acquire preeminence within the critical debates. In the general atmosphere of the post-war 'return to order' and with a widespread feeling that the end of the war coincides with the beginning of a new epoch, many artists and intellectuals feel the necessity of redefining the terms of critical judgement in relation to the changed cultural circumstances. In this context, the definition of modernity is gradually deprived of its associations with the concepts of 'the new' and progress and becomes strictly interrelated with the notion of a return to tradition, interpreted as the continuation of the dialogue with the past, which was interrupted by pre-war avant-garde artistic and literary excesses. Particular emphasis is placed on the varying politicization of these concepts and their redefinition in terms of nationalism and internationalism. The complexities, contradictions and ambiguities created by such redefinitions are explored through the analysis of the periodicals Valori Plastici, La Ronda, Critica Fascista, Il Selvaggio, 900, Il Baretti and Solaria, and of the critical work of Eugenio Montale, Ardengo Soffici and Luigi Pirandello, three very important figures, who are significant participants in 1920s debates and have a prominent role in shaping the culture of the decade. The notion of debate, within which the analysis of the concepts of tradition and modernity is inscribed, is broadly interpreted, taking into account the milieu of the cultura militante during the inter-war period. The issues treated are problematized in the light of present-day scholarly debates, with a view to repositioning the material analysed and furthering such debates.