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Italo Calvino in Japan, Japan in Italo Calvino. A Cross-cultural Encounter

DELLACASA, CLAUDIA (2021) Italo Calvino in Japan, Japan in Italo Calvino. A Cross-cultural Encounter. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Italo Calvino (1923-1985) travelled to Japan in the autumn of 1976 and, throughout his career, got acquainted with Japanese literature and culture: this encounter is attested to by the ‘Japanese shelf’ of his Roman library and by several authorial reflections, but has been granted little attention so far. The aim of this research project is to highlight for the first time the semiotic relevance of Calvino’s contact with Japanese cultural configuration, as an epitome of the author’s gradual relativisation of Eurocentrism, logocentrism and anthropocentrism. In particular, this study addresses Japanese gardens in light of their role in Calvino’s reflections on the interdependency between the human and the other-than-human. This deconstruction of a hierarchical humanism is discussed by interlacing trans-cultural and post-human coordinates, which illuminate the poetical and philosophical mature formulation of Calvino’s age-long ecological awareness. Moreover, if Buddhist meditation, as well as many poetical, artistic and architectural expressions that capture Calvino’s attention in Japan can be understood as forms of praxis – interrelation of theory and practice –, they are here put in dialogue with the author’s development of dialectical materialism over time, especially in his last completed work, Palomar (1983). By investigating Calvino’s treatment of perspective changes, language, silence, void, time and death in his works, this thesis brings to the fore the manifold contradictions, potentialities and dialectical processes that inform these themes in Calvino’s oeuvre, which fruitfully interact with his exploration of Japanese (and in general non-Western) art, literature and thought in the late 1970s.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Italian literature; Italo Calvino; Zen Buddhism; Japanese studies; comparative literature; ecocriticism
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Apr 2021 10:35

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