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Sentieri e radure: Le forme del cronotopo d'iniziazione in Alessandro Baricco
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Romance Studies and Classics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0542-1846
2016 (Italian)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Pathways and Glades : The Forms of the Chronotope of Initiation in Alessandro Baricco (English)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the present dissertation is to study the elaborations of the initiation myth in contemporary Italian author Alessandro Baricco. The theoretical and methodological framework consists mainly of Mircea Eliade’s phenomenological theory of initiation. It is argued that the categories of space and time are interdepent in religious thought and should thus be studied as a unit, through the notion of the chronotope. The dissertation therefore proposes to introduce the concept of the chronotope of initiation as an operative tool, the intersection of the theories of Eliade and Mikhail Bakhtin, for the literary subgenre of the initiation novel.

A hermeneutical analysis of the novels Oceano mare, Emmaus and Mr Gwyn demonstrates that the initiation myth is present in all three novels. The symbolism of death and rebirth is coherently enacted as a movement via the categories cosmos-chaos-cosmos, for which the author uses the symbolism of the earth to define cosmos (regularity and structure) and water symbolism for the regenerating chaos (dissolution and renewal). The different chapters of analysis accentuate the interaction of space and time within the different phases of the initiation pattern: the profane, the threshold, the sacred, the centre (the place where the actual ritual is enacted) and the return, which are all defined as chronotopes.

The analysis shows that although the chronotope of initiation – the concept intending the fusion of the temporal event of ritual at the spatial centre – assumes different forms throughout the corpus, its function remains unmodified, with its purpose being the creation of ontological change. In its inherent structure, the chronotope of initiation unites antithetical spatial and temporal characteristics. Spatially it unites infinite and dissolving chaotic space with the constitutive envelope or sacred vertical centre, and temporally it brings together the ultimative ontological change at a fixed, historical moment with the eternal, sacred, time opened by ritual, representing the coincidentia oppositorum of the sacred. The analysis also shows that the so-called “portraits of the ineffable”, present in all three novels, reflect the same qualities. As immanent works of art, they function as thresholds into the infinite.

From a chronological perspective, the dissertation shows a modification of the initiation pattern in Baricco’s writing: from the classical form in Oceano mare, via a more realistic application in Emmaus, to the most elaborate, meta-literary adaption in Mr Gwyn. Nevertheless, the use of the pattern and its thematic coherence reveals that Baricco consciously elaborates on the pattern to suit the contemporary context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Romance Studies and Classics, Stockholm University , 2016. , p. 268
Series
Forskningsrapporter / Stockholms universitet, Institutionen för franska och italienska: cahiers de la recherche, ISSN 1654-1294 ; 56
Keyword [en]
Alessandro Baricco, chronotope of initiation, Mircea Eliade, Mikhail Bakhtin, sacred, profane, space, time, quest, myth, chaos, cosmos, regressus ad uterum, descensus ad inferos, centre, verticality
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Italian
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-135935ISBN: 978-91-7649-620-6 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7649-621-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-135935DiVA, id: diva2:1050085
Public defence
2017-01-20, DeGeersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 14:00 (Italian)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-12-28 Created: 2016-11-28 Last updated: 2016-12-19Bibliographically approved

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