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Title: Casus Belli : Giuseppe Gioachino waging war between tradition and experimentation
Author: Howard, Paul
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the notion of opposition in the Sonetti romaneschi by the Roman poet Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (1791-1863). It sees the poet as a warring rebel on the literary scene and examines his poetics and rhetoric of war through his choice of form (the hallowed sonnet structure), language (the ‘rotten’ vernacular) and subject (the downtrodden, previously voiceless underclass); it shows that these cornerstones of Belli’s opus are in polemical response to literary stimuli and intimately connected to the political, religious and sociological upheavals in and beyond Rome in the troubled run-up to Unification. Chapter one, entitled ‘Breaking the mould’, draws on Belli’s explicit declaration of war on his literary predecessors, and considers the influence of the Milanese writer Carlo Porta, arguing that Belli is more inimical than amicable, and not the simple imitator as thought to date. Chapter two, ‘A passage of arms: possessing the dialogue sonnet’, maintains that the fulcrum of Belli’s antagonistic poetics and his realist enterprise lies in his unprecedented use of the dialogue sonnet form and the staging of direct debate. Chapter three, entitled ‘The Battle of the Sexes’, treats opposition at a thematic level, applying gender studies and related theory to Belli for the first time. Chapter four, ‘War and peace: the silent revolution’, examines Belli’s creation of a totally new literary language, fulfilling the criteria for what Deleuze and Guattari, within broadly Marxist parameters, would identify as a ‘minor literature’ in the work of Kafka, in which a major language is somehow wrested from its anchors of power, or ‘deterritorialized’, to subvert the literary world from within. The thesis shows that Belli is more revolutionary than previously thought as a literary innovator, and an understudied giant of modern European literature as opposed to the marginal figure the historiography is wont to maintain.
Supervisor: Zancani, Diego Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Italian ; Romanian ; Rhaeto-Romanic literature ; Belli ; Sonetti romaneschi ; sonnet ; dialect poetry ; Italy ; 19th Century