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Title: Community, women and selfhood in the writings of Michel Leiris and Carlo Emilio Gadda
Author: Weavil, Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 7096
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This study sets out to uncover the thus far unexplored affinities between the works of Carlo Emilio Gadda and Michel Leiris, two key figures of twentieth-century literature whose place within the broader European literary panorama has been largely overlooked. Through an inquiry into three interconnected areas – the question of 'community'; the relationship between male self and female other; and writing as a space in which a fractured experience of subjectivity is both played out and exposed – I argue that their works are underpinned by a parallel tension, between a nostalgia for a lost experience of unity and a recognition of its impossibility within a fractured modernity. Chapter One examines the relationship between the individual and the communal. With a focus on Gadda's Giornale di guerra e di prigionia, and Leiris's involvement in a series of key intellectual, literary and political societies of the 1930s and 1940s, it argues that while both authors were drawn to a form of communal integration, both were ultimately thwarted in their attempts to reinstate it. Chapter Two continues this inquiry into the relationship between self and other through an examination of the dysfunctional relationship between individual (male) self and (female) other. With a focus on Leiris's L'Age d'homme and Gadda's Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana, it questions the extent to which any authentic relationship between male self and female other is ruled out, and examines the association between sexuality and fear that underpins their approach to the sphere of the female at large. The final chapter examines the implications of the authors' shared loss of faith in the notion of a unified, authentic experience of selfhood for their approach to the literary act itself. Through a study of these three key areas, this study thus sets out to respond to the need for further contextualisation of these two key figures of the twentieth-century European literary panorama, in the conviction that a comparative examination will shed new light both on their individual works and on their shared affinity with a number of key tenets of twentieth-century European thought.
Supervisor: Jefferson, Ann ; Stellardi, Giuseppe Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Languages (Medieval and Modern) and non-English literature ; Literature (non-English) ; Italian, Romanian, Rhaeto-Romanic literature ; Literatures of Romance languages ; Michel Leiris ; Carlo Emilio Gadda ; Women ; Identity ; Self ; Community