Killing the Moonlight: Modernism in Venice

Paperback | September 27, 2016

byJennifer Scappettone

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As a city that seems to float between Europe and Asia, removed by a lagoon from the tempos of terra firma, Venice has long seduced the Western imagination. Since the 1797 fall of the Venetian Republic, fantasies about the sinking city have engendered an elaborate series of romantic clichés, provoking conflicting responses: some modern artists and intellectuals embrace the resistance to modernity manifest in Venice's labyrinthine premodern form and temporality, whereas others aspire to modernize by "killing the moonlight" of Venice, in the Futurists' notorious phrase.

Spanning the history of literature, art, and architecture-from John Ruskin, Henry James, and Ezra Pound to Manfredo Tafuri, Italo Calvino, Jeanette Winterson, and Robert Coover-Killing the Moonlight tracks the pressures that modernity has placed on the legacy of romantic Venice, and the distinctive strains of aesthetic invention that resulted from the clash. In Venetian incarnations of modernism, the anachronistic urban fabric and vestigial sentiment that both the nation-state of Italy and the historical avant-garde would cast off become incompletely assimilated parts of the new. Killing the Moonlight brings Venice into the geography of modernity as a living city rather than a metaphor for death, and presents the archipelago as a crucible for those seeking to define and transgress the conceptual limits of modernism. In strategic detours from the capitals of modernity, the book redrafts the confines of modernist culture in both geographical and historical terms.

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As a city that seems to float between Europe and Asia, removed by a lagoon from the tempos of terra firma, Venice has long seduced the Western imagination. Since the 1797 fall of the Venetian Republic, fantasies about the sinking city have engendered an elaborate series of romantic clichés, provoking conflicting responses: some modern...

Jennifer Scappettone is associate professor of English, creative writing, and Romance languages and literatures at the University of Chicago and was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Rome Prize Fellow in Modern Italian Studies for 2010-11. She is the translator and editor of Locomotrix: Selected Poetry and Prose of Amelia Rosselli, wh...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:September 27, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231164335

ISBN - 13:9780231164337

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Venetian Modernity: A Troubled Present1. "The Entanglement of Memory": Reciprocal Interference of Present and Past in Ruskin's Venetian Histories2. Nearer Distances and Clearer Mysteries: Between Patches and Presence in James's "Visitable Past"3. Adriatic Fantasies: Venetian Modernism Between Decadence4. From Passéism to Anachronism: Material Histories in Pound's Venice 5. Fabulous Planning: Unbuilt VenicesCoda: Laguna/LacunaNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Killing the Moonlight is a brilliant fusion of literature, art, architecture, politics, and history that challenges and rewards the reader with its voracious and wide-ranging scope.... This book makes an important contribution not only to modernist studies but also to wider theoretical debates about the relationship between real and imagined places, the temporal dislocation that characterizes sites of historical memory and how they can be reclaimed for the present.