Reading Gadda from Argentina.
The Case of Enrique Butti’s Indí,
or Pasticciaccio argentino

Norma Bouchard

It is well known that Carlo Emilio Gadda’s works have cast a large shadow in post-world war II Italy, particularly from the late 1950s onwards, when the Italian cultural scene made it apparent that the long parenthesis of neorealism had run its course. Not only was Gadda an established master of expressionism and pastiche, but as early as 1950, he had already voiced a poignant critique of neorealist aesthetic practices.(1) The success of Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana in 1957, followed by Einaudi’s decision to reprint La cognizione del dolore in 1963 and by the prestigious Prix international de littérature awarded to the novel won, testifies to the reorientation of taste that had occurred and explains some of the reasons why Gadda became an important point of reference for an emerging generation of post-world war II Italian writers.  During the 1960s, these included the writers associated with Gruppo 63 as well as authors like Bianciardi, Mastronardi, and Pizzuto. (2) Yet, the influence of Gadda has proven to be crucial even to those Italian authors who have not directly engaged in expressionistic practices, such as Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino, arguably Italian literature’s most eminent postmodernist writers. (3)

Today, Gadda’s name is also frequently mentioned in connection to the more contemporary generation of Italian novelists that has emerged in the cultural context of the 1980s and 1990s. It includes writers such as Gesualdo Bufalino, Vincenzo Consolo, Aldo Busi, Sebastiano Vassalli, Pier Vittorio Tondelli, and Stefano Benni (4) who provide a dissenting, polemical perspective on the world through a sophisticated manipulation of the Italian linguistic patrimony. In short, post-war Italian novelists confirm the crucial role played by Gadda in providing a historical model for alternative forms of literary discourse. Thus, one must agree with Andrea Cortellessa who, in his L’ingegnere va all’estero, assuredly affirms «la centralità della figura di Gadda nel Novecento letterario italiano» (Cortellessa 2001b: 117). However, while recognizing Gadda’s status as «autore italiano per antonomasia» (Cortellessa 2001b: 118), Cortellessa also makes a case for the importance of Gadda’s work among the international community of critics and does so by discussing the critical reception that Gadda’s works have enjoyed abroad. With this essay, I build upon Cortelessa’s argument to illustrate how Gadda’s works not only encompass an international community of scholars, but are now shaping the writings of world fiction, as the case of Pasticciaccio argentino, by Latin American writer Enrique Butti, exemplifies.

Published in 1994, Pasticciaccio Argentino provides a fictional account of Gadda’s permanence in Argentina based upon the record of Gadda’s travels that are contained in his private correspondence with Clara Gadda and Ugo Betti, and upon the autobiographical tales Da Buenos Aires a Resistencia and Un cantiere nelle solitudini (1934, 1939). It is my contention that while Butti’s novel clearly pays homage to Gadda’s life and works, its revisiting of the record of Gadda’s permanence in Argentina undermines Gadda’s discursive rhetoric of ethnocentrism and colonialism through comedic emplotment and parodic mimicry. By so doing, Butti’s Pasticciaccio argentino not only testifies to Gadda’s influence beyond national boundaries but exemplifies a post-colonial re-writing of the Italian literary canon, and of the ethnocentric and colonial legacies that have shaped it. (5)

Born in Santa Fe (Argentina) on February 24, 1949, Butti lived in Italy for several years and studied at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. In 1983, he returned to the city of Santa Fe where he has been a steady contributor to the journal El Litoral. A writer of some repute, he has authored novels and dramas, including the award-winning Aiaiay (translated and published in Italy in 1986) and the short play Espina de diamante (1990). In 1993 he published Indí which was translated into Italian by Angelo Morino and published by Il Saggiatore (1994) under the title of Pasticciaccio argentino. Il romanzo medianico degli anni dimenticati di Gadda in Argentina. (6) Narrated primarily in free indirect discourse, with some sections in first and third-person voice, the novel is composed of an Ouverture, Part one, which includes sixteen chapters, Intermezzo, Part two, comprising eighteen chapters, and Epilogo.

As indicated by its subtitle, one of Butti’s intents was to recreate the fourteen-month period that Gadda spent in Argentina, from the end of 1922 to February 1924, when he had joined La Compañia General de Fósphoros, an Italian cotton company with headquarters in Buenos Aires. Butti’s intent is further corroborated by the epigraph of the novel, which is a citation from Giulio Cattaneo’s Il gran Lombardo: «Se uno dei più singolari personaggi del Settecento letterario inglese incontrò uno scrittore devoto, curioso e anche impertinente che finì per dedicargli la monumentale Life of Samuel Johnson, Carlo Emilio Gadda, che è figura assai più originale non avrà una fortuna analoga». (7) Yet, while Cattaneo, who was Gadda’s colleague at the RAI, could draw upon his lived memory to document anecdotes, scenes, and events of Gadda’s «Roman period» from the 1950s to the 1970s, (8) Butti has a much more limited record on which to base his reconstruction. This record consists of a handful of letters to Ugo Betti and Gadda’s sister Clara, as well as two autobiographical tales. I will revisit some of this material before returning to the ways in which Butti incorporates it into his novel.

In the letter to Betti dated August 25, 1922 (Gadda 1984a: 66-73), Gadda announces his upcoming departure for Argentina and the motivations for his journey: «il desiderio di conoscere, di vedere, di studiare, anche un po’ di operare fra genti diverse». (9) The next five letters, from February 15, 1923 to October 15, 1923, are written from Argentina. While Gadda expresses his pain at leaving friends, family and country, (10) as many generations of trans-oceanic labor immigrants did, his language is also traversed by the rhetoric of European ethnocentrism and colonialism. Thus, for example, he writes to Betti that he would have liked to have crossed the Ocean aboard the liner «“Giulio Cesare”, nome simbolico» (Gadda 1984a: 68), in a comment that not only evokes imperial grandeur but suggests dreams of territorial conquest and possession of a country that, it bears remembering, was a sovereign nation and had formally declared its independence on July 9, 1816. (11)

When Gadda reports his impressions of Argentina, he tends to do so in descriptions that, as Giuseppe Bonifacino notes, «non esulano da una focalizzazione percettiva ristretta […], una procedura mimetica statuariamente impressionistica e parcellare, che ne scompone l’insieme e ne isola e stilizza […] il dettaglio» (Bonifacino 2007). In Gadda’s metonymic isolation of details from the complex geographic, social, and cultural ensemble of Argentina, Bonifacino rightly locates «una soggettività intrinsecamente protesa a definirsi per via di scrittura». Yet, this act of self-writing also reveals the workings of a Eurocentric subject of perception, of a consciousness that reifies Argentina as a grotesque, degraded parody of European modernity: «Il paese è interessante, ma terribilmente boviso – provinciale» (Gadda 1984a: 82).  Its inhabitants are «ignoranti come capre, (salvo qualche rarissima eccezione che ha frequentato Roma o Parigi)» (Gadda 1984a: 82). The local population is unsophisticated – «la massa non è ancora formata» (Gadda 1984a: 90) – and the Teatro Nacional Cervantes, a landmark building completed in 1921 and known for its grand tiled lobby, can only be «opera di spagnoli, s’intende: perché nessuno di qui ci arriverebbe» (Gadda 1984a: 90). This set of dispositions towards Argentina and its people is further illustrated when Gadda presents his work-duties. While one could argue that Gadda’s decision to accept an engineering position with La Compañia General de Fósphoros was a form of labor-migration similar, at least in its deeper, material motivations, to that of the 2.6 million Italians who, between the end of the 19th century and 1925 took the path of trans-oceanic migration, (12) he presents his work as a civilizing mission.

Through the Italian enterprising spirit of which he is now an agent, Gadda will bring social and moral improvement to a backward country: «devo costruire i gabinetti per le donne della Cartiera, ma lontani da quelli degli uomini, perchè i “muchachos” si dilettano di sconvenienti esibizioni!» (Gadda 1984a: 95). Yet, Gadda’s colonial outlook is perhaps best expressed in a comment where he notes that more capital would be necessary to bring about a truly robust colonizing mission to the Latin American country: «Eppure quanto ci sarebbe da fare in questo paese per una gente attiva, atta a vivere socialmente! Ma occorre una cosa, l’indispensabile: del capitale. Senza di questo la colonizzazione seguirà un processo lento, di crescenza malaticcia e tisicuzza» (Gadda 1984a: 84). Other memories that surface in his letters to Betti deal with his living arrangement in Buenos Aires. Complaining about the work habits of the servant of the house, Gadda does not hesitate to mobilize the discursive tropes of Southern racial inferiority to describe the local population. In an expression marked by the rhetoric of Northern Italian racism, (13) he comments: «Colazione non è pronta: gran meraviglie della gentile padrona perchè già sono le 12 ½; serva gallega = galiziana = Napoli di Spagna!» (Gadda 1984a: 88).

The second record of Gadda’s permanence in Argentina is his correspondence to his sister Clara, Lettere alla sorella 1920-1924. More extensive than the one addressed to Betti, it comprises a total of thirty-four letters of various lengths. In the letter dated October 13, 1922 (Gadda 1987b: 44-45), Gadda alludes to the Compañia General de Fósphoros, and writes about the need to attend to the necessary paperwork before the journey. (14) The correspondence that ensues begins on December 6, 1922, with a letter written from aboard the liner Principessa Mafalda, where Gadda describes his traveling companions and the ship’s excellent accommodation and service, and ends with the letter of February 4, 1924 announcing Gadda’s imminent departure for Genoa and return to Italy (Gadda 1987b: 97-98).

In this second collection of letters, Gadda reveals many of the sentiments expressed to Betti. He finds that Buenos Aires can only rival Milan for its transportation system, not for its aesthetic beauty. He downplays the city’s cultural life (Gadda 1987b: 68), even though he admits that it offers some entertainment (Gadda 1987b: 74). Of the season that just opened at the Teatro Colón, a building completed in 1908 and the largest theatre in the Southern hemisphere till 1973, he comments: «non mi sento proprio di andare a sentire le strombazzate e le tonitruanti declamazioni dei grassi tenori. Mi farebbero sbadigliare» (Gadda 1987b: 73). Of fellow Italian immigrants to Argentina, such as the crowds of the local fascio where Gadda was a member of the «Direttorio», he notes that they lack the heroic character of the Italian fasci and have «la tinta intrigante e pettegola adatta alla microcefalia della colonia» (Gadda 1987b: 86).

Gadda also laments the anti-fascist views of La patria degli Italiani, a Buenos Aires newspaper where Gadda published a review of Betti’s Re pensieroso (April 20, 1923). While he seems to have enjoyed his excursions to Montevideo (Gadda 1987b: 51, 71), his journey to and residence in Resistencia elicits a string of negative responses. To be sure, the mightiness of the river Paranà impresses Gadda. He admires its myriads of islands, its vegetation of marshes and grasses, and its fauna of crocodiles, serpents, and birds (Gadda 1987b: 54). Yet, the coastal cities of the river Paranà, Rosario and Paranà, are for Gadda little more than colonial outposts – «sentinelle avanzate della civiltà» (Gadda 1987b: 55) – while of Resistencia he writes: «alcuni edifici, di cui il più sontuoso può gareggiare col nostro pollaio di Longone» (Gadda 1987b: 55). The roads are «solchi, profonde quanto mezza ruota» and the landscape is dotted with «ranchitos», the homes of the natives, or «abituri» in Gadda’s language, who do not pay rent, live without rules, drink unclean water and wash in the surrounding lagoons (Gadda 1987b: 55). Gadda does provide Clara with some background on the history of Resistencia, which acquired its name after a successful resistance against indigenous attacks (Gadda 1987b: 56). He also praises the hospital and one of the city’s many sculptures, a monument to the She-Wolf. Yet, the monument appears to catch Gadda’s attention for its symbolic value as an icon of imperial Rome: «La Lupa di Roma, dipinta di verde bronzo, fa una magnifica figura» (Gadda 1987b: 56). Overall, his impressions are less than favorable. More often than not, Gadda finds the climate unbearable, the landscape monotonous and Argentine life uncultured and primitive.

It must be observed that Gadda’s disparaging comments might have been partially motivated by Clara’s desire to visit him in Argentina. In an attempt to discourage his sister from joining him, Gadda might have exaggerated the boredom of Argentina’s cultural life, its hot and humid climate, and so on. For example, he mentions to Clara that the climate is «moralmente and fisiologicamente» (Gadda 1987b: 68) unsuited to women and recalls the case of Mrs. Re, prey to depression after living there, (15) and of others, unnamed women who allegedly suffer intestinal problems. Gadda’s intent to discourage his sister also seems to be corroborated by his casual mentioning in the letters of September 3, 1923, and November 30, 1923 of the many opportunities of cultural life that the city of Buenos Aires offers. (16) Overall, however, the sentiments expressed in the letters to Betti can also be found in those addressed to Clara. In short, Gadda’s correspondence remains marked by an ethnocentric and colonial rhetoric.

At this juncture, it should be noted that Gadda’s disposition towards Argentina and its people extends much beyond the views of a single individual. It is part of a broader socio-cultural and political phenomenon which led to the development of the rhetoric of ethnocentrism and colonialism alongside the massive Italian migration that took place in the decades following Unification. More precisely, between 1880 and 1915, as a large landless peasantry and an oversupply of labor launched the largest out-bound migration in modern recorded history, Italy’s nationalistic politics recast emigration as a form of colonial expansion that mirrored the «scramble for Africa» begun by the Liberal Italian governments and aggressively pursued by Fascism. (17) In the words of Mark Choates’s Emigrant Nation, «each emigrant settlement was a colonia, the same term used for Italy’s African colonies. To distinguish between the two types of colonies, Italian theorists called emigrant settlements “spontaneous colonies”, while African possessions were called “colonies of direct dominion”». (18) However, it was not only the emigration of destitute masses that was linked to colonialism. Italy’s trade, industrialization, and corporatism abroad were also presented as a way to further the nation’s hegemony, a form of industrial colonialism that would bring civilization and progress to foreign territories while securing Italy’s economic advancement and national interests. While Choates’s study elucidates the origins of the ethnocentric and colonial rhetoric that traverses Gadda’s correspondence, one must also recall that, with the advent of Fascism, this rhetoric reached new levels. As Albert Sbragia has cogently argued in Fear of the Periphery: Colonialism, Class, and the South American Outback, by the time of Gadda’s arrival in Argentina, the recasting of labor-migration and Italian industrialism abroad as a form of imperial expansion had been «incorporated into the fascist rhetoric of vitality, colonialism, and romanità» (Sbragia 1996b: 49). Gadda, whose conservative views are well-documented in his interventionism, anti-Socialism, and early endorsement of Fascism, (19) was not immune from such developments and, in the words of Sbragia, arrived in Argentina «with a sense of manifest destiny» (Sbragia 1996b: 50). This sense expressed itself not only in the frustration over the antifascist climate that he observed in Buenos Aires and in the local press, La patria degli Italiani, (20) but especially in the «symbolism of wonder and possession» of the New World’s periphery «justified as a civilizing mission» (Sbragia 1996b: 50, 53).  

But in addition to his correspondence, Gadda’s experience in Argentina is also recounted in two autobiographical tales published in 1934 in La gazzetta del popolo and later collected in Le meraviglie d’Italia (1939): Da Buenos Aires a Resistencia (SGF I 105-10) and Un cantiere nelle solitudini (SGF I 111-17). Da Buenos Aires a Resistencia begins with a recollection of memories from a café in Buenos Aires where Argentine tango, which Gadda admires as the authentic expression of the dance, as opposed to the «trascrizione depotenziata, immelensita» of the European version (SGF I 105, n. 1), is being performed. Gadda then describes the evenings in Buenos Aires, the theatres of Sarmiento and Rivadavia, the streets full of passerby, boys selling lottery tickets and the evening papers La Razón and El Progreso, and the arrival of the omnibus 148. Memories of operatic performances in Italian are succeeded by recollections of the eighteen-day journey to Buenos Aires aboard the Mafalda where land-owners and successful merchants, or «ferreteros» (SGF I 106), are among the travellers. Focusing on one of them, the number 45, as one of the Genoese bartenders called him, Gadda recalls his elegant attire and his family before describing the arrival of the evening and the feelings of nostalgia elicited by the dark colours of the Ocean. In this tale, Gadda also remembers the third-class travellers who, on a journey «verso ventura e speranza» (SGF I 107), come on the boat’s bridge to wash their dishes after a meager meal of rice and beans before returning to their dormitories that smelled of human waste. Gadda’s memories then lead him forward, on the three-day journey from Buenos Aires to Resistencia aboard the boat Guarany. Gadda remembers the warm welcome at the harbour, the news of his arrival printed in the local daily chronicle, and the ride to the factory on a Ford, in which he travelled on large, unpaved roads. His enjoyment at the sight of the women walking in the public garden (21) is matched by his awe at the sight of the Chaco region, a vast alluvial lowland completely devoid of rocks: «Sentii di amare quella terra sconfinata e carnosa, deserta come un sogno di lidi paradisiaci» (SGF I 109). The autobiographical tale ends with a positive recollection of the solitude of the Chaco region and of its people. (22)

As Gian Carlo Roscioni has written in Il Duca di Sant’Aquila, the lyrical, even elegiac tones of Gadda’s autobiographical tale indicates how the experience of Argentina, remembered after the sojourn, lacks the disparaging tones that traverses some of Gadda’s correspondence (Roscioni 1997: 198). Like Roscioni, Bonifacino 2007 also comments that in the tale Gadda «dignifica e risemantizza il dato primario dell’esperienza compiuta in Sud-America» through a style that, by transforming metonymic and fragmentary images into symbolic correspondences, tends to a harmonious totality. In other words, it would appear that the revisiting of the Latin American experience after its conclusion weakened Gadda’s ethnocentric and colonial rhetoric while bringing a much more balanced perspective on Argentina’s social and cultural reality. While one can generally agree with Roscioni’s and Bonifacino’s assessment with regards to the first of the two autobiographical tales, the second one, Un cantiere nelle solitudini, appears not to have been spared by that colonial gaze that characterizes many pages of Gadda’s correspondence. The tale focuses on the construction site of the cotton mill, the «algodonera» (SGF I 112), where native people, Italian labor-migrants, and Argentine descendants of Italian immigrants work. The specialized tasks, Gadda recalls, are carried out by Italians, or their descendants, while mixed bloods, «discesi da antichi connubi fra gli indios e i “conquistadores” spagnoli» (SGF I 113), are in charge of more humble labour. Yet, Gadda makes no attempt to probe the asymmetrical relations of power that exist between the native and their European co-workers and employers.  Structures of coercion and inequality do not come into play. In Gadda’s view, the natives accept their roles as subordinate; a role that he justifies in terms of the superiority of European civilization through Hegelian historicism:

E pure li rivedo intenti e chini in un lavoro europeo, con la paziente cazzuola e il martello […] con una devozione bestiale alle finalità immediate dell’opera e mansueta sommissione al commando […] E avevano il senso primo ed oscuro della giustizia e del debito, della legge e del limite. Accettavano il loro destino come una legge, contro di cui è una cosa empia l’insorgere. L’uomo di fuorivia, il «gringo» che spregiano e vorrebbero odiare, esercita sopra di essi la effettuale superiorità del denaro, della mente e degli atti.  Levava fabbriche e muri dov’essi avevano capanne di calami, di paglia fradicia. Ebbi conferma, al cantiere, di una constatazione già molte volte fatta e già volgarizzata nel mondo hegeliano delle storie […] Compresi che l’uomo accetta inconsciamente la superiorità del suo simile.  (SGF I 114)

In another description of the natives, Gadda further stresses their primitive, even depraved nature. As to further legitimize European hegemony, he mentions their alcoholism and engages in an excursus about the wasted use of the Spanish language on their lips. (23) But Gadda also proffers disparaging comments on those white settler-colonists who have embraced Argentine customs at the expense of their italianità. Echoing the concerns that a weak national consciousness would turn Italian immigrants into Argentines in the span of a generation – a concern expressed, among others, by Enrico Corradini (24) – Gadda describes the director of the factory as a man «da due mondi» (SGF I 112) who speaks a strange Italian, quite likely a form of cocoliche: «un italiano bizzarro, mezzo platense, mezzo spagnolesco» (SGF I 113). This man’s hybridity is further exemplified in his frequent reminiscing about interracial unions with black and Jewish women and by his travelling habits. While the director has been given the old Ford of the cotton mill, he often goes native, travelling like a gaucho «traverso giungle e lagune […] a cavallo» (SGF I 112). Astute and entrepreneurial, he is married to a woman of Galician descent, and therefore a criolla, who immediately charms Gadda. (25) The autobiographical tale ends with Gadda’s portrayal of two natives: an elderly one, intoxicated by alcohol, who – «ossequente d’un subito all’antica medicina degli Indios» (SGF I 117) – has almost lost his voice after curing a neck wound with a mix of mud and horse’s dung, and a younger one, who meets a woman and, in her company, silently disappears into the forest.

The direct record of Gadda’s experience in Argentina, (26) that I have discussed  so far, is very familiar to Butti as is Gadda’s narrative oeuvre and persona. Unlike Cattaneo, however, Butti does not seek to provide an objective, accurate account of Gadda’s biography: his reconstruction of Gadda’s travels is cast in the form of a fictional narrative whereby the historical Gadda is turned into Gadda-the-character. (27) In other words, Butti’s use of biographical material, while very plausible and often faithfully based on the extant record, is elaborated through the power of his imagination where it unfolds into what Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism calls a «contrapuntal reading»: (28) a postcolonial revisiting of Gadda’s experience in Argentina that not only enables the full emergence of the ethnocentric and colonial implications of Gadda’s letters and autobiographical tales, but exposes them in a comedic plot and through a parody of Gadda’s own language and cultural dispositions.

The novel begins with Gadda’s arrival in Resistencia after the journey on the Paranà aboard the Guarany. Butti’s free indirect discourse recreates Gadda’s reaction to the Chaco region in a passage that not only mimics Gadda’s enumerative style but incorporates the imagery of Argentina’s landscape that traverse Gadda’s letters and autobiographical tales: «La pampa o deserto, la pampa, la pampa, […] un uomo a cavallo, mucche, mucche, pampa, pampa, una casupola […] deserto non pampa, erbacce, salici, un fiume, pampa, un altro fiume, acqua, isole, canneti […]» (Butti 1994: 7). At the harbor of Resistencia, Gadda is greeted by the director of the cotton mill who introduces him to a number of other members of the immigrant community that will play a key role in the development of the plot, such as Mrs. Verga’s daughter Mariana, a timid girl educated in a monastery who has also travelled to Resistencia aboard the Guarany. Then, the director drives Gadda to his final destination on the Ford, the same automobile that Gadda remembers in his letters and autobiographical tales. During the ride, Gadda comments on the unpaved roads while expressing his feelings of astonishment at the landscape of the lowlands of the Chaco region. In these passages, all contained in the chapter Prende appunti (Butti 1994: 25-28), Butti is very faithful to Gadda's biographical material. Let’s consider just one example. After Gadda is taken to his apartment, Butti writes: «sentì che nasceva in lui l’amore per quella terra sconfinata e carnosa, deserta come un sogno di lidi paradisiaci» (Butti 1994: 26; cf. SGF I 109). He then adds another verbatim citation, now from Un cantiere, but written in the third as opposed to the first person voice, as it is in Gadda’s original:

Avrebbe scritto: appeso al soffitto il rosone della doccia era una costellazione benigna, e si sentiva carota felice sotto l'innaffiatoio. Sui lacerti e sul collo pioveva l’acqua della palude color cioccolata dal tannino delle radici, freschissima, desideratissima. Sensi di riconoscenza per la centrifuga. Pensava inoltre che quell’acqua lo rinvigorisse, credeva allora nel tannino, nel sugo dei serpenti.  (Butti 1994: 26; cf. SGF I 115-16)

The scene concludes with the description of the director, the man «da due mondi» (SGF I 112) which faithfully reproduces Gadda’s memory of his hybridized speech: «Como el perro me vino incontro – così diceva – entonce ho montado sopra la vereda» (Butti 1994: 26; cf. SGF I 113).

The presence of citations such as these as well as the numerous references to Gadda’s persona, biography, and style, clearly indicate that Butti is an admirer of Gadda, whose oeuvre he knows extremely well. Nevertheless, Butti’s knowledge and appreciation of Gadda does not prevent him from engaging in representations that expose and subvert Gadda’s ethnocentric and colonial outlook. Thus, for example, among the groups of characters that Gadda meets at the harbor, are the indigenous people of Chaco, a region that houses the Toba, the second largest groups of natives in Argentina. In an allusion to the tropes of Northern Italian racism used by Gadda to describe to Ugo Betti the poor work habits of the house servant, Butti’s free indirect discourse represents them as dark as Palermitans and Calabrese (Butti 1994: 22), ready to exact revenge for the sufferings inflicted upon them by Spaniards, Portuguese, and British (Butti 1994: 14). Moreover, in an image that evokes the rhetorical mobilization used by colonial discourse to separate the «savage» from the «civilised», the «progressive» from the «backward», Butti’s Gadda now imagines being tied to a stake, stripped naked, and wounded by darts imbued with irritating substances. However, his fears prove to be misplaced, as one delivery-boy, a native of Chaco, or an Indí, as in the original Spanish title of Butti’s novel, is approaching him with the most benevolent of all intentions: the delivery of a bouquet of flowers. Butti describes Gadda’s private reactions to the gift through a citation that now combines Gadda’s memories of World War I, as recorded, among others, in Giornale di guerra e di prigionia, with the influential theory of climatology; a theory that associated peoples and their cultures to climate in order to lend legitimacy to beliefs in the superiority of Northern civilizations: (29)

Vergogna. Un combattente della Brigata Cuneo, un alpino del 3º e del 5º Reggimento, orgoglioso in mezzo alla cretinaggine della guerra, un prigioniero [...] finire così, in culo al mondo, a reggere un bouquet, in mezzo a selvaggi immorali. Se l’era cercata; si sa che il tropico, e peggio ancora il subtropico, sviluppa certe ghiandole della voracità, e che la voracità sospinge verso la degenerazione. (Butti 1994: 16)

Even the rhetoric of emigrant and industrial colonialism that Gadda had expressed in his letters and tales does not escape Butti’s «contrapuntal», revisionary prose. For example, in the chapter Ordina Chinato Garda (Butti 1994: 32-37), which describes Gadda’s outing at the club of the Società italiana, Butti includes an episode where the director of the cotton mill explains that the arrival of many Italians in Argentina was the result of a labor-migration motivated by the most destitute of conditions, that is hunger, rather than a form of colonial conquest: «noi italiani che arriviamo siamo qui per sfamarci, per riempirci la pancia gonfia di denutrizione, altroché. E poi, a molti le cose vanno bene e neppure ci pensano a tornare in patria, e a quelli cui vanno male, pure loro rimangono, perché non hanno soldi per il biglietto o perché si vergognano» (Butti 1994: 34). The words of the director bring about a strong reaction in Gadda who seeks to restore his authority by reminding the director of his sacrifices for the nation during World War I: «La guerra, sissignore, lascia una fame insaziabile. La polenta, la pastasciutta, un giorno o l’altro arrivano, ci si rimpinza, ci si abboffa fino alle orecchie, ma dopo la fame che la guerra lascia al cervello, non c’è menù [...] che si riveli sufficiente. Io, signore, sono stato catturato, prigioniero degli austriaci, a Rastatt e a Celle, due anni» (Butti 1994: 35). The director, however, continues making his point. In the chapter that immediately follows, Saluti, ingegnere! (Butti 1994: 38-42), he states: «mentre lei andava a spasso con gli alpini, cantando la viuleta, con i calzoncini corti alla tirolese e il cappello con la piuma, qui si sudava [...] qui ci spezzavamo le reni, piegandoci per raccogliere i bozzolini di tele di ragno» (Butti 1994: 40).

But besides exposing the limits of Gadda’s ethnocentric gaze while stripping the immigrant experience of the rhetorical mantel of emigrational and industrial colonialism, Butti also gives weight to native figures that Gadda’s letters and tales had barely touched upon, describing them as anthropological curiosities at best. One of these figures is the native delivery-boy who had presented the bouquet of flowers to Gadda upon his arrival in the harbor of Resistencia.  Whereas Gadda who, despite his encyclopedic knowledge, cannot tell if he is «toba, mataco, pitaga, mocovì, vilela, or cholupi» and acts like «il dottor Juan A. Dominguez», a man so ignorant of native groups that he put all of them «nello stesso sacco» (Butti 1994: 49), Butti not only gives the native boy a name – Oreste or Tanqui – but also the status of a central character. The reader learns of Oreste’s father, a Spaniard, and of his mother, a native cook in an inn where Oreste lived for part of his life.

Through Oreste’s words, also emerges the story of a second native, Dormidito, who is famed for predicting deaths, droughts, and natural calamities, and for curing the sick and exorcising the possessed. Yet, Dormidito can only do so in the short period of time after he awakens. In what appears to be an allusion to La cognizione del dolore, the reader learns that Dormidito has been taken under the care of Mme Clouzot, the widow of the French director of the railroad, who hosts him in her bizarrely constructed and decorated villa. However, other relatives of Dormidito have recently moved in, including Oreste, his mother, and a host of other characters. Like the Nistitùos provinciales de vigilancia para la noche of La cognizione, the local police have tried to intervene, but the widow has refused their assistance. Intrigued by the story of Dormidito narrated by Oreste, Gadda decides to visits the villa and arrives in the room where Dormidito lies. To his horror, he witnesses the «transculturation» that has taken place in the «contact zone», to reprise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes, (31) among indigenous people, diasporic immigrant communities of European descent, and criollos. People of all ethnic origins are assembled in the bedroom of Dormidito, having become believers in the native’s power, «senza salto qualitativo fra l’adorazione del totem, del Corano miniato, della candela a santa Apolline» (Butti 1994: 130-31), as Gadda notes. Even Mme Clouzot has become «transcultured» and the only remain of her non-native heritage is her speech (Butti 1994: 59).  Once again, Gadda reacts with a verbal outburst which Butti expresses through a parody of a line from Gadda’s 1949 essay Come lavoro: «Nutro il più grande interesse per i vaticini; nutro un grande rispetto per i vati, ma non lavoro come i vati; io lavoro come i non-vati. Ho lavorato qua e là. Non ripeterò dove» (Butti 1994: 61-62; cf. SGF I 434).

But in the «transcultural» space of Latin America, more examples of crossing borders and traversing boundaries lie in wait for Gadda. During one of the evenings at the house of the director of the cotton mill and his wife María, one of the guests, Mrs. Verga, tells the story of an affair, soon to be followed by the birth of a child, whose protagonists are a native indigenous woman and the non-native son of a lady who is a pillar of the local Christian community (Butti 1994: 74-75). This story is a prelude to the main plot of the second part of the novel, where Butti, not content with his parodic portrayal of Gadda’s reactions to the amalgam of cultures of Resistencia, places him at the center of an entangled, convoluted plot that will eventually unfold into an unsolved mystery. In a series of chapters that most likely grow out of the ending of the autobiographical tale Un cantiere nelle solitudini, 31 Butti turns Gadda into the witness of a scene of racial and cultural transgression.

On the seventieth day of his permanence in Resistencia, Butti writes, as Gadda walks towards a lake near the cotton mill while reciting the poetry of Lope de Vega to practice the subjunctive forms of the Spanish imperative, he happens upon a sexual encounter between a native and a white woman. The woman turns out to be none other than Marina, the daughter of Mrs. Verga, the young girl who, like Gadda, had travelled to Resistencia aboard the Guarany. In these pages, Butti transforms Gadda from casual witness to intentional voyeur. Through a representation that not only magnifies the comedic characterization of Gadda but evokes what Robert Young describes as the «colonial desire», that is, the eroticized vision of miscegenation and inter-racial sexuality that traverses the colonial imaginary, Gadda becomes obsessed with the two lovers and goes to the lake frequently. Here, from his hidden «palco alla Scala» (Butti 1994: 91), he watches the lovers meet, copulate, and disappear in opposite directions without ever talking. One day, as he walks to the lake, he stumbles upon a dead body. Expressing, once again, his knowledge of Gadda’s works, Butti superimposes to the scene he describes the memory of the dead body of Liliana Balducci as recounted by Don Ciccio Ingravallo, from Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana (RR II 58-59):

Già vincevano le penombre, ma gli bastò vedere il vestito rosa; la chioma dorata; la pelle bianca delle braccia, delle gambe scoperte, al di là delle cosce, del pube, con la sottana sollevata e ammucchiata intorno alla vita […]. Una ciocca di capelli le copriva la bocca, sicuramente disarticolata in una smorfia orribile; gli occhi socchiusi, stupefatti, in un postremo orgasmo. (Butti 1994: 97-98)

A frightened Gadda runs away, fearful that he will be a prime suspect. He imagines the accusations of the members of the native and immigrant community with whom he never fraternized, in a passage that is an evocation of some of the many gossips by the communities of Pastrufazio that surround Gonzalo Pirobuttiro, from La cognizione del dolore:

Chi l’avrebbe difeso? Il viscido? Il viscido avrebbe dichiarato: – Sì, era una persona strana. Non fraternizzava, no […] non perdeva un’occasione per accusarci […]. No, non parlava mai di donne, mai, come se non provasse nulla, nessuna attrazione, nessun desiderio di spartire un commento […]. Il chimico di Pavia si sarebbe svegliato, avrebbe detto: – Era un inetto, era un pazzo... sfasciava tutto […]. La Guerra forse l’ha conciato così, la morte del fratello; non faceva che parlare di quel fratello Enrico […]. Il cameriere che serviva il vermouth al Circolo Italiano avrebbe testimoniato: – Ordinava Chinato Garda, e ne buttava giù solo un sorso […]. Si buttava invece sugli stucchini.  In genere, dapprima, sulle olive, nere o verdi […]. Poi si buttava sul formaggio a pezzetti, era uno spettacolo vederlo. (Butti 1994: 99-100)

But amidst his fears, Gadda also begins a process of conjecture. Despite the fact that this process is rendered even murkier by a second, mysterious assassination where the victim is now a prostitute, Gadda eventually recalls the physiognomy of Mariana’s lover and is now convinced that Dormidito is her murderer (Butti 1994: 122). He goes to the villa where Dormidito lives, but another story, this time so entangled to be «inenarrabile» (Butti 1994: 158), as Butti comments, begins. The story does not lead to the name of Mariana’s assassin, but is instead a chaotic accumulation of narrative details that proliferates meaning and impedes a linear, forward moving plot. A parody of the structure of many of Gadda’s fictions, this story includes, among other, a band of nocturnal marauders who are trying to take possession of the villa; a feud between the two opposite clans of the Madariaga and the López; a kitchen where a mixed-blood child and an aspiring fortuneteller, Mirtita, and her godmother live; a courtyard where the sight of a group of natives elicit, once again, Gadda’s fears of the other as a savage, a cannibal. (32) But in this convoluted narrative material, Butti also includes a singer, Linda Velasques Montalbán, and a woman nicknamed «la Decrocifiggitrice». Quite likely a fictional transposition of Mrs. Re, the woman suffering from depression whom Gadda had recalled in his letters to discourage his sister Clara from visiting him in Argentina, «la Decrocifiggitrice» has gone mad and spends her time nailing and removing the nails of a crucifix. To his astonishment, Gadda discovers that she is none other than the wife of the director of the cotton mill, the Spanish lady, the criolla who had charmed Gadda.

The disclosure of the identity of «la Decrocifiggitirce» leads the novel to its conclusion. In an abrupt interruption of the entangled plot, Butti announces that he will confine the description of the remainder of Gadda’s permanence in Argentina to silence: «lasciamo che viva il resto del suo soggiorno in Argentina» (Butti 1994: 170). Instead, he explains, he will fast-forward to the novel’s ending, or Epilogo. Written, unlike most of the novel, in a third-person voice, the Epilogo takes place in the evening of February 5, 1924. Gadda is now in the middle of the Ocean, on the liner that is bringing him back to Italy and that is captured in the cover photograph, a portrait of a smiling Gadda, posing on the liner’s ramps, from the Archivio Effigie (1924). Gadda anxiously anticipates the moment of return; the moment when the order of European civilization will be restored in his life, along with the cultural icons that anchor it: «Là, sente, lo aspettano, a braccia aperte, Aristotele, Platone, […] sant’Agostino» (Butti 1994: 170).  Instead, however, more chaos and disorder await Gadda. In a violation of Gadda’s biography that chronologically would have led him from Racconto italiano di ignoto del Novecento, La meccanica, and Meditazione Milanese to La cognizione del dolore and L’Adalgisa, passing from La Madonna dei Filosofi, Butti projects Gadda’s future in the hybrid spaces of Rome’s via Merulana:

L’ingegnere si rabbuia, forse per via della brutta oscurità crescente […]. O forse perché passin passetto si avvicinava […] a una via composta della Vaticana, mettiamo via Merulana, dove poteva apparire d’improvviso, distesa a terra in casa sua, una signora dolce e sensibile, di agiata posizione, con la sottana sopra la vita, insinuando dietro la biancheria di seta la riga nera, e una scia di sangue pastoso sgorgato dal collo, senza che mai si venisse a sapere alcunché dell’assassinio, malgrado gli sforzi intrepidi delle forze dell’ordine […]. (Butti 1994: 171)

As this quotation illustrates, in his final, ironic strike from the periphery of the empire, the future that Butti imagines for Gadda is not only devoid of the beacons of Western civilization, but is the same one that Gadda will describe in his best-known novel of 1957: Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana. Having grown disillusioned by Fascist dreams of nation and empire, (33) Gadda will turn Rome, the metropolitan center, the seat of Fascist government, and the symbol of European culture into the colonial settlement, into the «contact zone» of «transculturation» evoked by the pages of Butti’s novel. In Gadda’s Pasticciaccio, Italian, Roman, Neapolitan, Molisan, and other languages and dialects will combine, cultures and their bearers will contaminate and shape one another in a «groviglio, o garbuglio, o gnommmero» (RR II 16) that is born of a constant transgression of boundaries and frontiers. And it is precisely in this cartography where «the Other», as Dombroski has written, will be rearticulated «as a pervasive totality» (Dombroski 1999: 115), that Butti imagines the collapse of Gadda’s discursive colonial rhetoric: the end of the distinction between the normal and the exotic, the civilized and the savage, the North and the South that had traverses Gadda’s correspondence from, and autobiographical tales about, his experience in Argentina during the early 1920s.

In conclusion then, Butti’s Pasticciaccio argentino not only indicates the centrality of Gadda’s life and works in shaping literature beyond Italian national boundaries, but opens a window into the ways in which one of the leading authors of the 20th century Western national canon is read from the perspective of the other. In a mobilization of rhetorical strategies ranging from comedic emplotment and characterization to citations, mimicry, and parodic replays, Butti’s Pasticciaccio argentino provides readers with a humorous account of Gadda’s permanence in Argentina from 1922 to 1924. This is an account that pays an undeniable homage to Gadda’s life and works, as evidenced by the many allusions to Gadda’s corpus. Yet, it also enables readers to critically reflect on the ways in which the canonical texts of our cultural history have been shaped by ethnocentric and colonial legacies. What is certain, however, is that the presence of texts such as Enrique Butti’s Indí, or Pasticciaccio argentino. Il romanzo medianico degli anni dimenticati di Gadda in Argentina extends the impact of Gadda’s writing well beyond the boundaries of the Italian national literary canon.

University of Connecticut


1. My reference is to Un’opinione sul neorealismo, where Gadda argues that the crudely objectifying writings of neorealism are unable to give expression to the complexity of reality.

2. Luciano Bianciardi’s La vita agra (1962) and Lucio Mastronardi’s Il maestro di Vigevano (1962) and Il meridionale di Vigevano (1963) reveal a pastiche of national idioms and dialect reminiscent of some pages from La cognizione del dolore and Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana. Gaetano Pizzuto, in his attempt to find rhetorical devices to suggest hermeneutic openness, also draws upon Gadda’s model in Ravenna (1962) and Paginette (1964).

3. While Eco has structured two of his novels, Il nome della rosa (1980) and Il pendolo di Foucault (1988), in the genre of the anti-detective practiced by Gadda, Calvino’s Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore (1979) and Palomar (1985) share Gadda’s view of a world that is so complex as to exceed all representational models that would try to define it.

4. For further discussion see: Z. Baranski and L. Pertile (eds.), The New Italian Novel (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 1993); and S. Tani, La giovane narrativa, in Postmodern Fiction in Europe and Americas, edited by T. D’Haen and H. Berthens (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1988), 161-92.

5. For reasons of space, I have not included in my discussion a second novel that is deeply shaped by Gadda’s writing, Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a piazza Vittorio by Algerian writer Amara Lakhous: but I have discussed this novel in a separate, forthcoming article. A detective fiction written in the tradition of Gadda’s Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana, it focuses on the process of detection that follows a mysterious murder. As was the case of the stories spun in via Merulana by the sight of the body of Liliana Balducci, the corpse of Gladiatore, found in the elevator of the apartment complex of Piazza Vittorio, an area of Rome that is now home to many immigrants, creates eleven contradictory narrative accounts. Located in these voices, carefully commented by Amedeo/Ahmed, is a pluralization of points-of-view that questions, just as Gadda had done, the very idea of a single truth. This is done through the speeches of Italians from Naples and Milan, all replete with regional inflexions, and those of the immigrants themselves: a Peruvian, a Dutch, a Bengalese, an Algerian, and an Iranian.

6. For a more complete bibliography of Butti, see the entry Enrique Butti.

7. E. Butti, Pasticciaccio argentino. Il romanzo medianico degli anni dimenticati di Gadda in Argentina (Milan: Il Saggiatore, 1994), 6.

8. For additional discussion of Cattaneo’s biography, see P. Biasin in Books Abroad 48 (Summer 1974), 550, and E. Saccone in Modern Language Notes 89 (January 1974), 128-30.

9. «Le ragioni materiali e morali della mia vita mi hanno talmente stancato che i freni si sono spezzati e la mia macchina fila a corsa pazza su una strada di cui ancora non vedo l’uscita. – Adesso mi sono lasciato “corrompere” dall’idea americana […]. È il desiderio di conoscere, di vedere, di studiare, anche un po’ di operare fra genti diverse» (Gadda 1984a: 68). 

10. «Piangerò come un volgarissimo barbabietolone che ha detto addio ai dolci amici. Là non ci sono né monti, né il cielo, nè i palazzi né la gente d’Italia, né i laghi, né niente» (Gadda 1984a: 69).

11. Argentina became a Spanish colonial holding in the 1500s. In 1776, Spain established a viceroyalty but it collapsed when Napoleon overthrew the Spanish monarchy. Britain invaded the Rio de la Plata region between 1806 and 1807 but failed to acquire control over the region. This failure, coupled with the examples of the French and American revolutions, created the impulse for the declaration of independence of 1816.

12. The Argentine Constitution of 1853 opened the country, till then primarily inhabited by descendants of Spaniards, or criollos, indigenous populations, and African slaves, to European immigrants. The openness of Argentina’s migration policy is perhaps best translated in the motto of Juan Bautista Alberti «gobernar es poblar». See also L. Favero, Mechanisms of Adaptation and Integration of Italian Immigrants in Argentina, in The Columbus People. Perspectives in Italian Immigration to the Americas and Argentina, edited by L.F. Tomasi, P. Gastaldo and T. Row (New York: Center for Migration Studies, 1994), 113-24.

13. For additional discussion of Gadda’s complex promotion of Northern values, see Donnarumma 2004b. The origins of Northern Italian prejudice towards the South hark back to the 19th century. Following the territorial unification of the Italian peninsula in 1860, the independent Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was annexed to the Northern monarchy of the Savoy. Within a few decades, the Savoy turned the Kingdom into a supplying base of natural resources and cheap human labor by way of a liberalized agenda that severely weakened the Southern economy. Such colonial practices went hand in hand with a discourse that represented the South as an exotic and bizarre land: one that was compared to Africa or Turkey, and more generally, described in a way that reproduced the rhetoric of the European colonization of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. At the end of the 19th century, a body of pseudo-scientific research produced by Cesare Lombroso, Alfredo Niceforo, Giuseppe Sergi, and Enrico Ferri reified Southern diversity from the frameworks of biology, phrenology, anthropology, and criminology. The result was the creation of a very resilient discourse of Southern Italians’ racial inferiority.

14. After 1919, the Argentine government put into place some measures to regulate immigration, including the requirement for a passport and proof of physical and mental health. For additional discussion, see F. Devoto, In Argentina, in Storia dell’emigrazione italiana, edited by P. Bevilacqua, A. De Clementi and E. Franzina (Roma: Donzelli, 2002), 25-54.

15. «Credi che c’è molto da pensare prima di recarsi in questo paese […] se noi uomini soffriamo, sembra che le signore siano addirittura le vittime desiderate del luogo […]. La moglie dell’ing. Re, per esempio […] è affetta da una forma di nostalgia così allarmante da averla ridotta di peso e depressa in modo pauroso» (Gadda 1987b: 68).

16. In these letters, he recalls having attended the performances of Tristano, Barbiere, Lucia di Lammermoor and Manon (Gadda 1987b: 85) and concerts under the direction of Richard Strauss at the Teatro Colón. The letters also indicate that Gadda visited the many bookstores of the city and did not experience a great deal of difficulties in obtaining journals and newspapers, such as L’Illustrazione italiana (Gadda 1987b: 91).

17. Upon becoming Prime minister in 1887, Francesco Crispi pursued an expansion into Africa that led to the occupation of Somalia in 1889, the invasion and declaration of Eritrea as colony in 1890, and the proclamation of Italy’s sovereignty over Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in 1912. Despite a number of catastrophic defeats (Amba Alagi, 1895; Adua, 1896, among others), Italy pursued its colonial ambitions. With the fall of the Liberal State and the advent of Fascism, African colonialism entered its most violent phase. In 1925 Mussolini made the stability of the African territories a priority and initiated a repressive military campaign that led to the proclamation of the Colonia di Libia in 1935 and the declaration of Africa Orientale Italiana (AOI) in 1936, a territory that encompassed Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

18. M. Choates, Emigrant Nation. The Making of Italy Abroad (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), 23.

19. For additional discussion on Gadda and Fascism, see Sbragia 1996b, Hainsworth 1997, and Dombroski 1999: 117-34.

20. The lack of admiration for Mussolini that Gadda observed in Argentina did not shake his colonial convictions: «Non ostante tutto, l’italianità trionferà di sé stessa, purgandosi, e degli altri, gelosissimi come sempre. Il cavo italiano sarà posto, per la volontà inflessibile dell’ing. Carosio e per l’aiuto morale e finanziario degli italiani» (Gadda 1987b: 86). It should be noted that Gadda’s support for the colonial idea continued well into the following decade as articles such as La colonizzazione del latifondo siciliano (1935), L’assetto economico dell’impero (1935), Le risorse minerarie del territorio etiopico (1935), and La donna si prepara ai suoi compiti coloniali (1938) testify. These articles are included in Gadda 2003e (EJGS Supplement no. 2).

21. «Passavano ragazze e donne vestite in chiari colori, prediletti il rosa, il bianco, l’arancio pallido. Hanno una pelle bianchissima, la scìa dei loro profumi si esilarava nel 30 parallelo. Ridevano, con denti di bianca maiolica. Hanno occhi molti belli, assai lucidi, quasi per il velo d’una tersissima lacrima. Il loro intercedere decoroso, come ogni gentilezza ed ogni eleganza spontanea, mi ammaliava, mi consolava» (SGF I 109).

22. «Quella gente credeva nelle leggi, osservava un costume […]. Quella gente parlava ancora la nobile lingua dello hidalgo, la lingua che dovunque ed oltre ogni solitudine della nuova terra, verso la nuova speranza, “se habla a Dios”» (SGF I 110).

23. «Parlavano armoniosamente lo spagnolo […] che mi pareva finanche sprecata musica e logica in riva della savana color caffè» (SGF I 115).

24. See Sbragia 1996b: 48. Corradini made these observations after a trip to Brazil and Argentina in 1908.

25. «Distintissima, spagnolescamente amabile e nobile […] con una pelle assai bianca, aveva un tratto lento, maestoso, inimitabilmente elegante» (SGF I 113).

26. I would like to observe that indirect memories of Argentina are very prevalent in Gadda’s fictional and speculative works. Thus, for example, the Argentine experience resurfaces in the story of Grifonetto Lampugnani, which would have addressed the theme of «le due patrie» (Racconto italiano, SVP 396). Other memories of Gadda’s time in Argentina are also present in the section L’Allegrezza, from Notte di luna (RR II 1071-106) where Arrigo Davila, who has travelled across lands and seas before returning to Italy, recalls the monuments to Columbus in the city of Bernal (RR II 1106 n. 8) and in Buenos Aires (RR II 1102). Last but not least, Argentina is present in the many layers of descriptive folds, to reprise Dombroski’s Creative Entanglements, that envelop topography, names of characters, and language in La cognizione del dolore. For additional discussion, see Grignani 1998.

27. To distinguish between the historical Gadda and Gadda-the-character, I have italicized Gadda-the-character as Gadda.

28. E. Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Chatto & Windus, 1993), 59.

29. In 18th century Europe, the superiority of Northern civilizations was given legitimacy by theories of climates of which Montesquieu’s L’esprit des Lois (1748) is probably the best-known representative. Climatology shaped an extremely vast library, coming to influence a host of other 18th and 19th century writings of Northern travellers.

30. M. L. Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992).

31. I am referring to the passage where Gadda describes a native walking towards a woman and disappearing with her into the forest without ever uttering a word (SGF I 117).

32. «Li studiò, i commensali, e sì, tutti sapevano della sua presenza, ma facevano finta di niente finché non fosse giunto loro l’ordine di scagliarsi su di lui: per fargli il solletico, sventagliarlo con foglie di palma […] al fine di rosolarlo meglio, con un rametto di menta piperita infilato in bocca» (Butti 1994: 146).

33. See Hainsworth 1997 and Dombroski 1999: 117-34.

Published by The Edinburgh Journal of Gadda Studies (EJGS)

ISSN 1476-9859
ISBN 1-904371-19-1

© 2011-2024 Norma Bouchard & EJGS. First published in EJGS, Supplement no. 9, EJGS 7/2011-2017.

Artwork © 2011-2024 G. & F. Pedriali. Framed image: after Niccola Guttierez, active 1743, Untitled, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence.

All EJGS hyperlinks are the responsibility of the Chair of the Board of Editors.

EJGS is a member of CELJ, The Council of Editors of Learned Journals. EJGS may not be printed, forwarded, or otherwise distributed for any reasons other than personal use.

Dynamically-generated word count for this file is 9381 words, the equivalent of 27 pages in print.