Lessing and World Literature (MLA 2017)

The Lessing Society MLA panel, taking place in Philadelphia, January 5th-8th, 2017. Submit abstracts to Saskia Ziolkowski (sez6 AT duke.edu) by March 15th, 2016.

Although Lessing’s explorations of literature in contrast to the other arts have been an object of considerable scholarly focus, Lessing is rarely mentioned in the many studies of world literature. Lessing’s absence contrasts with Goethe’s, who is well-known as being o410807253ne of the earliest (often credited as being the earliest) theorists of world literature. While he did not explore the term, Lessing examined the roles of various literary traditions in a broader European context, drew  inspiration from a wide range of literary sources, and had (and has) a significant influence on various traditions and disciplines. This panel seeks to examine how engaging Lessing’s broad thinking about literature adds to conversations on world literature, which have so often used Goethe as their point of departure, as well as how studies of world literature can shed new light on Lessing’s work.

We welcome talks that address ideas about Lessing and world literature, including but not limited to how Lessing’s ideas of literary traditions (French, Spanish, English, Italian, German) express themselves in both his essays and individual works of fiction, how his ideas of literature contrast with Goethe’s, and the presence of Lessing’s works in world
literature. Talks may focus on a wide range of topics: for instance, how Lessing’s dramatic theory have shaped international views on drama, how and why Lessing drew on Boccaccio or other individual authors, the presence of Nathan der Weise in world literature, the significance of individual productions of his plays, or a thorough consideration of Hannah Arendt’s Lessing essay.

G E Lessing

Original Artwork: Engraving by A H Payne after Storck. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Dreams and Ambiguity on Svevo’s European Stage

Copertina Mio Vecchio William

“Dreams and Ambiguity on Svevo’s European Stage: La rigenerazione and A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” for a volume on Svevo and Shakespeare. Ed. Carmine G. Di Biase. Annali d’italianistica. Studi e testi. Series directed by Luigi Monga & Dino S. Cervigni.

Below is the first paragraph of my article and a list of its sections. This collection, edited by Carmine G. Di Biase, contains a range of essays that address the relationships between Svevo and Shakespeare (and their works), as well as information about recently discovered, relevant Svevo materials and Di Biase’s translations of Svevo’s “Profilo” and Ariosto governatore. The work of Brian Moloney, Riccardo Cepach, Elisa Martínez Garrido, Carmine G. Di Biase, and myself appear in the volume. It offers new views on Svevo from a variety of perspectives. The volume will be presented in Madrid and Trieste.

Article introduction:
In 1884 Italo Svevo sent the renowned actress Eleonora Duse an Italian translation of Romeo and Juliet with the note, “Il sottoscritto si permette offrirLe pella rappresentazione questo suo dramma che scrisse proprio pensando a Lei. Non chiede altri diritti di autore che quelli che la legge in vigore quando visse gli concedeva. — G. Shakespeare.” Much has been made of Ettore Schmitz’s pen names and this signature is similarly significant: addressing Duse as Shakespeare reveals not only Svevo’s playfulness, but also his personal association with the Bard. Even Romeo and Juliet, which at first glance may seem to have little in common with Svevo’s forma mentis, was a work he treasured enough to share with the formidable actress. Although Svevo primarily mentions the tragedies, like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet, the magnitude of Shakespeare’s significance to Svevo and the humor of Svevo’s own plays suggest that Svevo’s relationship to Shakespeare’s comedies is also worth exploring. This essay investigates Svevo’s engagement with a comedy that has often been compared to Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. First, I consider the various cultural conduits through which Svevo would have received Shakespeare’s play to reveal the necessity of thinking about Svevo in the context of a broader European and even world literary culture. I then put Shakespeare’s play into conversation with Svevo’s La rigenerazione in order to explore Svevo’s rich representation of reality, of perception, and of performance itself.

– Svevo, the Shakespearean Playwright
– World Literature in Trieste: Shakespeare and Svevo
– “The fierce vexation of a dream”: La rigenerazione and A Midsummer
– All the World’s a Dream
– Becoming World Literature