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Title: From Giacinta to Rassegnazione : the critique of post-Risorgimento ideologies in the novels of Luigi Capuana
Author: Barnaby, Paul
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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This study challenges the prevalent perception of Luigi Capuana as the passive reflector of ideological critics. It argues that he does not move from optimistic positivism to a disorientated, ahistorical neo-idealism. Far from being shaken by new cultural stimuli and by mounting opposition to the liberal state, he presents a lucid critique of both positivism and the idealist reaction. From an essentially Hegelian perspective he demonstrates how each divides the self, divorcing subject from object and mind from body. Capuana, this study argues, looks beyond the post-Risorgimento settlement to a 'synthetic' age. An ideological discourse is traced through Capuana's five novels. Giacinta rejects the lay fatalism and objectivity of naturalism for an epistemology which stresses liberation through self-knowledge, transcendence of environmental and cultural determinants, and abolition of the subject/object dichotomy. Profumo shows how secular positivism inherits the dualism of Catholicism: protagonists are led to recognize their repressive ideological inheritance and to seek synthesis. In La sfinge, however, faith in the possibility of synthesis falters. In the discredited liberal state, positivism deteriorates into a debilitating sprit of analysis, and dualistic idealism re-emerges as decadentism. In this ideological climate, Capuana's protagonists remain stranded in the divided self. Il marchese di Roccaverdian cautiously reaffirms the possibility of synthesis, portraying a protagonist struggling to overcome the master-slave ideology where mind and body stand in the same relationship as feudal lord and subject. Finally acknowledging his origins in the land and the people, he prefigures a new political settlement implicitly located within a problematic future. Finally, Rassegnazione, confronts D'Annunzian superomismo, censuring its futile exaltation of the will and dehumanizing dualism. It is set against alternative modes of idealism: Schopenhauerian aestheticism and a Hegelian location of the ideal within the real. Ultimately, however, each is presented ironically and D'Annunzio's art-in-life is not definitively dismissed. Capuana's ideological discourse ends with an open question.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available