The Avant-Garde Tradition in Literature

By Richard Kostelanetz | Go to book overview

Italian Futurism

Judy Rawson


1

The "Futurist Manifesto" first appeared in Le Figaro for 20 February 1909. Its author was an Italian, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who, though making his mark first of all in Paris, had also been active in Milan since 1905 as editor of Poesia, one of the aims of which was the publicizing of the works of the French Symbolists in Italy. (Later, Marinetti was also to claim 1 Zola, Whitman, George Kahn and Verhaeren among his predecessors — in an article characteristically entitled " We deny our Symbolist Masters, the last Moon-Lovers.") In this, the first of his many Manifestos, Marinetti declared: "It is from Italy that we broadcast this manifesto of ours to the whole world . . . because we want to free this country from the stinking gangrene of its professors, archaeologists, tourist guides and antique dealers." Italy had been a junk shop for too long, he insisted; now it was time to burn her libraries, flood her museums and galleries, and tear down her sacred cities. 2

Compared with the French, the Italian literary scene was unexciting. D'Annunzio was now the chief literary figure of the day; Carducci, whose "strength" appealed to Marinetti more than did the "femininity" and delicacy of D'Annunzio, had been dead for two years. Other writers like Pascoli, Fogazzaro and even Verga were by international standards rather low-keyed. The Manifesto was however not addressed solely to Italy, but from Italy to the world; and the challenge was taken up outside Italy in a number of bitter disputes;

____________________
Reprinted from Modernism ( 1976), edited by Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane, pages 243‐ 58, by permission of Penguin Books Ltd.Copyright © 1976 by Penguin Books.

-142-

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