Global Humanities Junior Research and Teaching Stay at Freie Universitaet Berlin
October 2015 - February 2016
The Prehistory of the Novel. Studies in the Origins and Silent Transmission of Western Prose Narrative Fiction
My current research project in the field of Romanistik investigates the prehistory of the prose novel from ancient sources, particularly Apuleius’s Metamorphoses, up to the eighteenth-century English novel, with which most critics identify the birth of the modern narrative genre, and beyond. Attention will mostly be paid to the “silent transmission” of Apuleius’s novel among the ancient sources, in medieval and Renaissance masterworks in different geographical areas: France, Italy, and Spain. This transmission has always been either underestimated or misunderstood. As Ezra Pound briefly pointed out in The Spirit of Romance, intertextual analysis will demonstrate that the “supermodel” of Apuleius’s Metamorphoses, the only complete extant novel passed down by the ancient tradition, is still present in Chrétien de Troyes, Juan Ruiz, Giovanni Boccaccio, François Rabelais, the Spanish picaresque genre (Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes and Guzmán de Alfarache) up to Cervantes’s Don Quixote. This research will show, moreover, that the study of Apuleius’s parodic narrative art and plurilinguistic language are essential to understand the stylistic development of the modern novel as a genre, as Michail Bakhtin pointed out in his groundbreaking essay From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse. Such a perspective allows us to consider this development next to the evolution of other genres (especially epic, both in its ancient and medieval-Renaissance examples). Indeed, the resulting contrasts are visible throughout the whole project and even up to the final analysis of Joyce’s parody of epic in Ulysses.
Igor Candido is Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University, USA. He holds two doctoral degrees in Italian literature, a PhD from The Johns Hopkins University (2011) and a Dr.Phil. from the University of Turin, Italy (2009). From 2013 to 2014, he was the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship to conduct research at Freie Universität Berlin. He has lectured and taught in Italy, the US, and Germany, and written on Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Poliziano, Emerson, and Longfellow. He has provided the critical edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s translation of Dante’s New Life (Aragno editore, 2012), as well as a monograph on Boccaccio as reader and imitator of Apuleius of Madauros (Boccaccio umanista. Studi su Boccaccio e Apuleio, Longo editore, 2014). He is currently working on a new commented edition of Petrarch’s The Life of Solitude (Toronto University Press, forthcoming Fall 2016), as well as on a miscellaneous volume titled Petrarch and Boccaccio. The Unity of Knowledge in the Pre-modern World (De Gruyter, forthcoming Spring 2016). His new research project is tentatively titled The Prehistory of the Novel. Studies in the Origins and Silent Transmission of Western Prose Narrative Fiction. He is one of the editor of the Archivio Novellistico Italiano and collaborates with Italian and American journals such as “Lettere italiane“, “L’Indice dei libri del mese“, “Modern Language Notes”.