Tommaso Landolfi Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

While Tommaso Landolfi wrote mainly short stories and short works called novelle, he also published some long fiction. Examples include La pietra lunare (1937; the moonstone) and Un amore del nostro tempo (1965; a love story of our time). He wrote for the theater: Landolfo VI di Benevento (1958; Landolph VI) and Faust ’67 (1969). He published two highly regarded volumes of poetry: Viola di morte (1972; the violet shade of death) and Il tradimento (1977; betrayal). In Italy, he also enjoyed a reputation as an observant literary critic and a witty and ironic essayist. A selection of critical essays are gathered in Gogol a Roma (1971; Gogol in Rome), while Del meno (1978; this and that) is a collection of columns which Landolfi published over the years on the “terza pagina” (the literary page) of the Corriere della Sera. To this steady and voluminous activity must be added the writer’s numerous translations from French, German, and Russian literature.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Tommaso Landolfi is a unique and eccentric writer who fits into no obvious category of Italian literature, past or present. Italian fiction in the twentieth century follows the tradition laid down by the nineteenth century masters, Alessandro Manzoni and Giovanni Verga, both of whom dealt directly with the historical forces at work on human society and who emphasized realistic description of the social backdrop. Landolfi appears to have had no interest in dealing overtly with those historical crises of his time which had such a formative influence on his own generation (fascism and World War II). Instead, Landolfi’s cosmopolitanism is reflected in his continuous output as a translator—mainly from Russian, but also from French and German literature, which always paralleled his literary production.

In the 1930’s, Landolfi was associated with the hermetic movement in Italian poetry and prose, as a part of that generation of writers who, in response to the pressures of the fascist regime, turned in on themselves to rediscover a poetic voice or simply to maintain private integrity, while they also looked to foreign traditions in search of stylistic and thematic mentors. In those years, Landolfi, who had taken a degree in Russian literature at the University of Florence, continued to reside in that city and published his early fiction in reviews such as Letteratura and Campo di Marte. The hermetics made their antifascist comments...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brew, Claude. “The ‘Caterpillar Nature’ of Imaginative Experience: A Reading of Tommaso Landolfi’s ‘Wedding Night.’” Modern Language Notes 89 (1974): 110-115. Although focusing on one story, Brew’s attentive analysis of narrative technique, cryptic imagery, and surreal action—especially as these apply to imagined rather than literal experience—illuminates many other stories by Landolfi.

Calvino, Italo. “Introduction: Precision and Chance.” Words in Commotion and Other Stories. New York: Viking, 1986. Master fantasist and personal acquaintance of Landolfi, Calvino utilizes Landolfi’s real-life obsession with gambling to identify and analyze his “rules” for the “game” (literature) between writer and reader. As described by Calvino, necessity, chance, uncertainty, and suffering are as significantly interwoven for Landolfi the man as they were for Landolfi the artist.

Cancogni, Annapaola. “Confronting Phantoms.” The New York Times, November 30, 1986. A review of Words in Commotion and Other Stories. Claims that Landolfi’s stories bring us face to face with the netherworld of phantoms and fears that we often repress in the name of reality. Asserts that he is an anomaly in Italian fiction with no clear literary ancestor or descendant.

Capek-Habekovic, Romana....

(The entire section is 421 words.)