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Landscapes of Desire in the Poetry of Vittorio Sereni$
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Francesca Southerden

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698455

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698455.001.0001

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‘Memorie triste’, ‘passi perduti’

‘Memorie triste’, ‘passi perduti’

The Melancholy Journey and the Return to Dante1

(p.185) 5 ‘Memorie triste’, ‘passi perduti’
Landscapes of Desire in the Poetry of Vittorio Sereni

Francesca Southerden

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the condition of melancholia that stems from the poetic subject’s over-attachment to the past, which Sereni foregrounds in his dialogue with Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio. As Sereni repeatedly returns to the memory of Dante’s ‘memorie triste’ [memories of sin/sorrow] (Purg.XXXI.11) and to the topography of the Earthly Paradise, he revisits a tension in the Commedia that sets a backwards-looking desire against a progressive one. Sereni, unable to get beyond the loss that his ‘memorie triste’ figure in poetry, cannot transform or redeem the self in the same way as Dante, and his own version of Purgatory is reconfigured as limbo, marked by the impossibility of change and the absence of progression. From Diario d’Algeria [Algerian Diary] to Stella variabile [Variable Star], Dante’s ghost haunts Sereni’s oeuvre as a reminder of a lost Edenic space in language and the poem to which he can never return.

Keywords:   Sereni, Dante, Eliot, Montale, memory, desire, landscape, loss, melancholia, Kristeva

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