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Professor of Modern European Literature
Faculty of Arts & Humanities
Since 1979, the year of my thesis on New York Street Theatre and my first novel Boccalone, I have developed my writing as a novelist and critic in a parallel way. My books dealt at first (Boccalone 1979, Le pietre e il sale 1986 translated into English as Ages Apart, 1989) with a partly biographical reflection on Italian political circumstances in the 1970s (years in which Italy was marked by violent political contrasts). After my third novel (Le vie del ritorno, 1990, translated in German, French and English as The way back, 1993), a more adventurous book both structurally and thematically, I explored storytelling in an unrealistic, fantastic mode (Allegro fantastico, 93). The two subsequent novels have focussed on the themes of the crisis of historical perspective (Le colpevoli ambiguità di Herbert Markus, 1997), the existence/non-existence of time in physics and philosophy (Angela prende il volo, 2000). The main themes of my last two novels are discrimination both within small groups (family, friends) and in a broader social arena (L’altra sera 2003), I fratelli minori (2010).
In between novels I have always wrote essays of a theoretical nature. A meditation on linguistics inspired the essay Le parole di Isacco, 1982, whereas Sul racconto 1988 was a study of the ways and means of short narratives. Over the last decade, I have had a more philosophical approach to the study of literature (Appunti sulle metafore, 1996, Autogenerazione del testo, 1999) or studies of indivudual authors (Morante 1995, Tondelli 1998, McEwan 2000, Calvino 2001, Celati 2001) and historical issues (L’individuo romantico, 2000).
Thanks to the support of the AHRB I used my 2001-02 sabbatical leave to organize my critical work of the last decade into a coherent volume, La deriva romantica (2002). The main thesis in this book is that post-modernity, the condition of co-existing poetics and approaches to contemporary art and literature, is identifiable as surviving fragments of historical Romanticism. I do not however state this through theoretical or speculative writing, rather through a composite approach: philosophical in its kernel, historical in approach, exploiting individual authors’ specific problems.
In July 2005 I published Pier with Laterza: this is a study on Pier Vittorio Tondelli, an Italian writer who died of Aids in 1992 and who has become a pivotal figure in the literary debate about contemporary Italian writing. The essay, warmly received in the Italian press, traces the development of the author through his novels against the background of Italy’s political and social transformations in the seventies and eighties.
In 2011 An anthology of Primo Levi is published by Le Monier. It contains a substantial introduction (17.000 words), plus a complete new apparatus (notes, bibliography and biography of the author).
I have now plans to develop my recent American lectures, Flow (which I delivered in Ann Arbour, Michigan and Phoenix, Arizona), in a full length monograph on writing.
Drama And Theatre Studies
|Universita degli Studi di Bologna|
Diploma di Maturità Classica
Italian studies not elsewhere classified
3. Professional history
Worked in Rome on a film script from my first novel Boccalone.1981-83Part-time language assistant in the Italian Department at University College London
Language coaching for several opera productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the recordings of Rossini's Maometto II (Philips) and Verdi's I Masnadieri (Decca).
Part-time lecturer at UCL.
Diavolo in corpo, film script written with Marco Bellocchio
Began regular collaboration with newspaper Il mattino, Naples (subsequently for Esquire, l'Indipendente, L'Unità, Il diario della settimana, Rolling Stone).
Year spent in Italy (Milan) writing a third novel, translating, working for Radio Popolare. Together with Pier Vittorio Tondelli, Alain Elkann and Elisabetta Rasy, member of founding group of Panta, a literary magazine published in Milan by Bompiani.
Appointed Writer in Residence at UCL.
Regular contributor to the Italian National Radio (RAI) and BBC world service (radio and TV).
Lecture course on Italian literature in Cambridge University, Faculty of Modern and Mediaeval Languages. Paper 17, 18th-century to the present day. Various tutorials for different colleges.
My post of Writer in Residence was given the status of Lecturer B
Sabbatical in Italy writing La deriva romantica and L’altra sera.
Director of the Centre for Italian Studies, Affiliate Tutor.
Italia Fantastica at the Italian Cultural Institute (Alan Sillitoe and Cristina Comencini; Marco Lodoli and Nick Hornby; Enrico Palandri and Tim Parks).
Reader in Italian Literature. Year Abroad Tutor. Italian/Business and Italian/Management Tutor.
Professore a contratto Ca’ Foscari, Venice
Professore Associato Teoria della letteratura, Ca’ Foscari, Venice, Italy
Admission Tutor (UCL)