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Grace Paley e Thomas Pynchon
Inverno 2008 - Anno XV
It is the responsibility - p. 5
“Il guizzo azzurro dei suoi occhi veloci”. Ricordo di Grace Paley - p. 8
Testo a fronte
Poesie - p. 10
Arrivederci, e tanti auguri. Scrittura e dintorni nella vita di Grace Paley - p. 20
This paper attempts to map out the almost complete merging of Grace Paley’s biography and work; that is the overlapping of the public persona she has become over the decades – mostly from the Sixties to the Eighties – and the critically acclaimed short-story writer of The Little Disturbances of Man, Enormous Changes At the Last Minute and Later the Same Day. Her short-stories are thus read in the light of three fields of study which are both biographical and fictional: her being born into a family of Jewish-Russian immigrants living in the Bronx; her being a working-class mother of two in the West Village in the Fifties and Sixties and her coming to write within an urban community of women; her symbiotic relationship with New York City and her ongoing commitment to keep its places “public”.
“Avevo promesso ai bambini di far finire la guerra prima che diventassero grandi”: donne, amiche e madri nell’universo narrativo di Grace Paley - p. 37
Because of its biological roots, at times ambivalent and discomforting, motherhood is one of the most controversial issues when applying any kind of theory, whether it be feminist, psychoanalytic, philosophical, sociological or political. These conflicting aspects stand at the core of Grace Paley’s work.
The essay explores the many representations of motherhood in her writings, against the background of the various theories: motherhood as a choice rather than a simple biological function, as a job of public interest rather than a merely personal issue, the mother as human being rather than it being just a role, the mother/daughter relationship, the practice of motherhood as a model for social action, and so on. Grace Paley represents mothers doubly torn between protection and constraint towards their children, between their children’s need of individuation and their own need of realization. At the same time she uses irony and satire to deconstruct the many stereotypes such as the all-powerful mother , and at the opposite end of the scale, the totally powerless mother.
The image that closes the story A Subject of Childhood is particularly telling. Faith, her main narrator, complies with her son’s request to stay, having fought for a few minutes of solitude and freedom to cope with her problems. The story ends with Faith cradling her son, whose small fat fingers form Alcatraz bars, imprisoning Faith’s beating heart. The image suggests that motherhood is a rich experience precisely because of the limits it imposes. It is this space that makes for the cohabitation of contradictory and conflicting feelings such as love and resentment, availability and confinement, it is this space where the same love represents both joy and restriction.
Watts, Los Angeles, 1966: un anno dopo la rivolta - p. 49
Un viaggio nello spirito di Watts - p. 50
L'arcobaleno della paranoia. Dalla paranoia di Gravity’s Rainbow alla dietrologia di Underworld - p. 61
This essay, a comparison of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow with Don DeLillo’s Underworld, tracks the evolution of paranoia as a cultural pathology typical of the U.S.A. during the second half of the twentieth century. By deconstructing the popular language of conspiracy theories, both novels testify of the passage from the polarized – and strategic – plot enforced during the Cold War to a constant state of ironic and self-conscious “dietrologia” in the Nineties. In different ways Pynchon and DeLillo underline the loss of subjectivity in an age characterized by systems so complex that defy any attempt to attribute individual responsibilities.
Sulla strada fra Beat e postmoderno. Viaggiatori, hoboes, drifters in Kerouac e Pynchon - p. 77
This essay deals with the diverging representations of life “on the road” in Kerouac’s eponymous novel and in Pynchon’s early narrative. Traveling for Kerouac’s heroes means keeping on the move, and this, from a literary point of view, questions ideas of narrative closure and character development. In Kerouac’s works the figure of the hobo undergoes a transformation: the victim of capitalism, as portrayed in the writing of Steinbeck and Dos Passos, or in the songs of Woody Guthrie, becomes a “road mystic”. In Pynchon’s short story, The Secret Integration, and in the novels, V. and The Crying of Lot 49 it is possible to trace a polemical subversion of many of Kerouac’s topoi, such as the traveler, the hobo, the ecstatic jazz player, and the American night. It is a shift away from euphoria and mysticism towards a pensive melancholy and a prophetic allegory of the advent of information and post-industrial society.
Gola di ferro di Tillie Olsen: il segno del talento - p. 91
This essay is a critical introduction to the translation into Italian of The Iron Throat by Tillie Olsen, appearing for the first time in this issue. Olsen’s piece was originally published in 1934 as an anticipation of the novel she was working at in those years, and was reviewed as “the work of an early genius”. After a brief outline of the writer’s career, the narratological and linguistic analysis shows her technical skills and highlights themes and stances that will be central in her future writings: giving voice to women and children and the importance of education on one side, and, on the other side, her political stand on labor issues and the stress on collective action toward social change.
Gola di ferro - p. 99
The right to be cold. Intervista a Sheila Watt-Cloutier - p. 105