Capriole in cielo : Aspetti fantastici nel racconto di Gianni Rodari
The purpose of this dissertation is to study the fantastic in the tales of the Italian children’s author Gianni Rodari. This analysis is grounded in the hypothesis that the fantastic is primarily characterized by two esthetic qualities, play and lightness, both of which are manifested at different levels in these texts, as well as in the relation between children and adults.As a background for the textual analysis in the present work, an introductory review is provided of previous research, followed by a historical and theoretical consideration of fantastical children’s literature, together with a study of Rodari’s own relation to the fantastic. For previous research, the results clearly indicate an arbitrary relationship to Rodari’s texts, such that the fantastic is admittedly recognized, but is often confused with the fairy-tale. However, the present review of the history of Italian fantastical literature for children indicates that Rodari is writing in a fantastical and humorous tradition that begins with Pinocchio, a tradition that is inter alia characterized by its ability to bridge the gap between children’s and adult literature. Based on theoretical definitions of the fairy-tale (Propp, Thompson, Lüthi) and the fantastic (Todorov, Rabkin, Jackson, Held), the present work presents its own model for the study of Rodari’s texts, which are also compared with the author’s own poetics, The Grammar of Fantasy.A narratological analysis of a tale with both a children’s and an adult version (in itself an example of crosswriting) demonstrates that the fantastic and the humoristic are given freer rein when Rodari is writing for children. This appears to be linked to his concept of the child as the ideal reader, a reader primarily defined by an open and unprejudiced attitude to literature, rather than by age per se. The dissertation’s study of play and lightness (lack of weight) clearly confirms the hypothesis that these elements are a major component of the fantastic in Rodari’s texts; the results nevertheless indicate that play dominates on the level of language, and lightness on that of content.One of the most important results of this dissertation is that Rodari’s texts, in addition to possessing certain stylistic characteristics, do not demonstrate any deeper similarities to fairy tales. Instead, the author’s tales share numerous characteristics with the traditional concept of the fantastic such as a clear reaction to the supernatural element, and a particular interest in both the material nature of language and existential liminal regions. At the same time, the results indicate several specific characteristics that distinguish the fantastic in Rodari from that which is written for adults, such as its explicit grounding in the child’s everyday existence and imaginative world, as well as its backgrounding of frightening aspects, with prominence instead being given to playfulness.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:HUMANITIES and RELIGION; Languages and linguistics; Romance languages; Italian language; the fantastic; children’s literature; Gianni Rodari; crosswriting; Todorov; Rabkin; Held; play; word play; lightness; flying; the child-adult relationship
Date of Publication:01/01/2006