Semiotics of Re-Reading: Guido Gozzano, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Italo Calvino

Semiotics of Re-Reading: Guido Gozzano, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Italo Calvino

Semiotics of Re-Reading: Guido Gozzano, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Italo Calvino

Semiotics of Re-Reading: Guido Gozzano, Aldo Palazzeschi, and Italo Calvino


This study examines the necessity of reading retrospectively. In this manner, the reader who comes along after the composition of an author's opus may better understand the author's earlier works after reading a later one. In contrast to a reader contemporary to the text, who does not have the opportunity of 'hind-sight, ' this special reader (recto-lector) draws on information gathered from a later text in order to understand a previously composed text. For example, the relationship between Aldo Palazzeschi's: riflessi (1908) and his later manifestoes (1914-1915) amply demonstrates the value and necessity of such a reading process: this is especially true with regard to non-canonial writers as is Palazzeschi. The retro-lector of: riflessi, therefore, comes away with an interpretation both different and more complete than that which the contemporary reader would acquire after a strict canonical reading. Along with works by Palazzeschi, 'Semiotics of Re-reading' also examines poetry by Guido Gozzano and short fiction by Italo Calvino


Most men do not think things in the way they encounter them,
nor do they recognize what they experience, but believe their
own opinions.


THE GOAL OF THIS STUDY IS TO FURTHER MY DISCUSSION ON THE NOTION OF retrospective reading, initially presented under the guise of a special reading construct, what I had first called the “modern reader.” Soon after, because of the confusion that could have risen between the competing notions of modernism and postmodernism, I relabeled this special construct-reader with the term retro-lector. In both cases I limited my application of this special reading to the works of one author, Aldo Palazzeschi. Since then, I have continued to work on this notion and explore the possibilities of application to other writers and other works. This is the primary goal of this project: to apply my notion of retro-lector to works of three different writers of two different genres, prose fiction and poetry.

As will become apparent in chapter 1, the underlying perspective of this study is primarily hermeneutico-semiotic with regard to my concept of a model reader, the retro-lector, which is similar yet not identical to those already expressed by theorists such as Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, Wolfgang Iser, and Wayne Booth, to mention a few. The writings of these and other thinkers I shall name from time to time are, to be sure, both useful and fundamental to what I shall present. However, while their readers, implicit models, are always contemporary to the text they read, the retro-lector, conversely, has a later existence. Namely, in this first decade of the twenty-first century, for example, we find ourselves reading books that were written and/or published not only years or decades before, but indeed centuries ago. In a general sense, obviously, for those of us who read these works, we twentieth-century fin de siècle readers, this is a retrospective reading. But, contrary to the . . .

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