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Publisher Description

FORSE che si forse che no (1910) is a complex novel that displays the amalgamation of two diverse sensibilities, a pre-industrial and an industrial one. Its point of departure is the nineteenth-century decadent temperament, which D'Annunzio had exemplified in his first novel, Il piacere (1889), set in an era just preceding technology's radical modernization. With Forse che si, this temperament changes in order to accommodate the author's fascination with modern technology. Much of the novel's action involves the driving of an automobile or the flying of an airplane. If Il piacere lingers ceaselessly in its meticulous descriptions of aristocratic parlors and tortuous explorations of the hero's psychosexual dilemmas, Forse che si revels in the laconic descriptions of distant moving landscapes as viewed from automobiles and airplanes, while it remedies the hero's inner turmoil through his virile and liberating achievements as an aviator. With this novel, D'Annunzio made a conscious decision to articulate his impressions of modernity through literary means. He intended, as he once stated, to compose a novel outside the "vecchi cicli," and to create a "bel 'puro sangue' tutto muscoli e nervi, palpitante in una rete di vene rilevate, fremente di rapidita" (qtd. in Roncoroni 200-204). Niva Lorenzini explains that the long pause in the author's novelistic writing, from Il fuoco (1898) to Forse che si, coincided with an inquiry into energy and action that arose among European intellectuals in the first decade of the century. A new conception of life as a rush, of consciousness as action, and of experience as movement and change, informed a substantial production of narratives published in French dailies and periodicals with which D'Annunzio was well acquainted (D'Annunzio, Prose di Romanzi II 1315). (1) This essay will concentrate on specific details of the novel's style in order to expose an essential aspect of D'Annunzio's literary encounter with modernity. Through a comparison between Forse che si and D'Annunzio's earlier prose, I will discuss the transition of a single theme from its nineteenth-century rendering to its twentieth-century re-elaboration in the face of the new era's rapid technological developments. Specifically, I will revisit the theme of the antagonistic male-female relation in order to elucidate the fundamental role of technology in the characterization of the protagonists. While the staging of this theme resembles its earlier appearance in Il piacere, the particular elements of the figurative language come from a historical actuality that is conditioned by the presence of modern machinery in everyday life. The machine does not simply serve as a crucial aspect of the diegetic action, or as one element in the overall diegetic ambience, but penetrates the very core of the characters' psychology and thus the interaction among them.

Professional & Technical
January 1
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Romance Languages

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