Theses Doctoral

Babeling: Language, Meter, and Mysticism in Amelia Rosselli's Poetry

Vaglio Tanet, Maddalena

Amelia Rosselli has often been considered an obscure and impenetrable author, whose language may be identified with the expression of the unconscious. In this study I argue, on the contrary, that a strong cognitive tension underlies the poet's multilingual production (in Italian, English, and French). I therefore explore its imaginative and philosophical depth, by reconstructing Rosselli's project to transpose into writing the complexity of human experience in a fickle, chaotic, and contradictory world. In the first chapter I focus on language, in particular on lexical fusions and distortions, mainly questioning Pasolini's interpretation based on of the notion of freudian slip. With the aid of hermeneutical tools borrowed from the philosophy of language, I claim that Rosselli's language aims on the one hand at mirroring reality, and on the other at making textual experience potentially infinite, thus engaging the reader in a never-ending interpretation. I also maintain that the category of the baroque allows us to appreciate Rosselli's aesthetics from an original point of view. In the second chapter I investigate Rosselli's elaboration of a new metrical form, stressing its relations to the poet's studies in musicology, ethnomusicology and acoustics. Through the meter Rosselli tries to restrain subjectivity, hence accessing a more objective and universal poetic dimension. The last chapter is devoted to Rosselli's mysticism. The mystic tradition offers a vivid imagery and a refined rhetoric to an author who wants to put the subject aside and depict the unstable (or vain?) nature of the world. However, Rosselli's attempt to find a metaphysical or divine remedy to violence and chaos does not succeed. Her longing for transcendency remains unfulfilled.


  • thumnail for VaglioTanet_columbia_0054D_13846.pdf VaglioTanet_columbia_0054D_13846.pdf application/pdf 10.8 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Valesio, Paolo
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 23, 2017