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Title: The theme of palingenesis in the Italian fin-de-siecle : Schopenhauer, Wagner, Nietzsche and the later works of Giovanni Segantini (1886-1899).
Author: Bestaggini, Antonella.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3462 5402
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 1997
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This thesis reconsiders the late pictorial production of Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899) in the wider philosophical and cultural context of fin-de-siecle Italy. Its primary aims are: first, to re-evaluate the artist's involvement with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900); second, to offer an interpretation of the intellectual concerns which informed Segantini's adoption of a divisionist technique for the articulation of Symbolist aesthetics in his later work; third, to demonstrate the central role played by the myth of rebirth (palingenetic myth) in informing the cultural climate of the fin-de-siecle. Evidence suggests that rather than being predominantly characterized by a set of pessimistic and decadent trends, the Italian fin-desiecle was permeated by a widespread concern with regeneration. During the 1870s the absorption of Richard Wagner's ideas into the Italian cultural arena can be seen as one of the earliest and most significant manifestations of such concern; Wagner's theories of cultural regeneration threw into relief the country's necessity for a national identity. Thus Chapter One offers a brief consideration of the ways in which Wagner's project for fostering the cultural unification of Germany through the power of myth and art came to have profound resonances both in the political and intellectual spheres of post-Risorgimento Italy. Chapter Two then considers the pivotal role played by the poet and political activist Gabriele D' Annunzio (1863-1938) in tailoring Nietzschean and Wagnerian notions of cultural regeneration to the peculiar context of the Italian tln-de-siecle with a view to embodying and engendering the archetypal homines noviwho would provide the catalyst for Italy's rebirth. Chapter Three moves on to tracing the dissemination of palingenetic discourse within the Positivist climate of turn-of-the-century Italy, and considers in comparative terms the regenerating ambitions which underpinned both the Positivist and Modernist paradigms. Chapter Four considers the emergence of Italian Divisionism in the context of the contemporary philosophical and cultural trends discussed in the preceding chapters. It also investigates Vittore Grubicy's theorization of 'musical Ideism' as a pictorial correlative to the Schopenhauerian assertion of the primacy of music over all the other arts. The chapter ends with a consideration of Divisionism in relation to the notions of artistic and scientific 'truth', and the role played by Nietzschean philosophy in determining a crisis of the principle of truth. Chapter Five explores in detail the divergence of opinion between Segantini and his mentor Vittore Grubicy over the capacity for tangible elements of the material world to function as symbols of 'the Idea', and suggests that Segantini's use of technique to render the visibility of the idea was informed by his reading of Nietzsche. The chapter concludes with an interpretation of Segantini's last works as embodiments of his Nietzschean ethic and aesthetic of this-worldly transcendence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Arts Art Philosophy Religion Literature Mass media Performing arts