Čale, Morana

Mourning the Lost Aura? : ‘Illustratori, attori e traduttori’ and the Discursive Subversion of the Metaphor of Motherhood / Morana Čale. - 7-37 str.

Pirandello’ s life-long ambiguous relation to the legitimacy and even the very possibility of reproducing a literary artwork figures among the foremost issues of Pirandello criticism. Pirandello’ s reluctance towards the staging of his own plays, astonishingly contradicting his personal commitment to theatrical transpositions of his work, is reputed to be the most exhaustively conveyed in his 1908 essay ‘ Illustratori, attori e traduttori’ . The essay appears to be centred around the insurmountable impediments for a dramatic work of art to be suitably transformed in a theatrical performance. This predicament, according to Claudio Vicentini, is due to three main reasons indicated by the author: the general incommunicability, the fundamental oneness of artistic creation, and the obstructive materiality of the actor’ s body. However, although the noun designating the agent responsible for stage performance occupies the central part of the essay’ s title, the fact that it is flanked by two components not associated to theatre implies that the question of the tolerability of theatrical reproduction is not the exclusive object of interest of the text. The contention of the article is, first of all, that the three phenomena that the text deals with – illustration, acting and translation – share the feature of being representative supplements, ostensibly denounced for their inessentiality with respect to the original that they pretend to add themselves to, or stand in for, and thus for their superfluous and falsifying quality. Secondly, it sustains that the arguments that the essay seems to employ against supplementarity in general do not form a monolithic platform or line of thought: on the contrary, the text adopts a polyphonic discursive strategy, which aims to grant independence to contrasting views or voices, competing with the apparently peremptory, supposedly authorial categorical claims of hostility towards all supplementary representative devices. Pirandello’ s essay achieves such a plurality of positions, destabilising its genre conventions as well as positive conclusions, and, at the same time, manages to conceal rhetorically, at first sight, its challenging evidence to the reader. The alternate play between the respective literal meanings of the terms ‘ illustrazione’ [‘ illustration’ ] and ‘ traduzione’ [‘ translation’ ], and their figurative meaning (i.e. mediation, displacing the dichotomy between the original and its supplementary derivation), as well as interchange between prefixes indicating interiority and exteriority, subverts presumed disjunctions such as natural vs. artificial, original vs. copy or representation, authorship vs. reproduction, asserting insidiously the logic of universal supplementarity. As a coda to the examination of the essay, the paper proposes a way of connecting the essay’ s subtle interrogation of the concepts of the original, the authorship and the ‘ aura, ’ to Pirandello’ s plays La favola del figlio cambiato and I giganti della montagna, principally with the purpose to examine the relationship between the essay’ s unspoken concept of supplementarity and the major biological metaphors of artistic creation appearing in the two plays, also recurring frequently in Pirandello’ s work – motherhood and a (transplanted) tree: the semantic opacity of both of them turns out to hide the same contestation of the notion of the origin, that the essay performs on the concept of the original.



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