The Presence of Myth in Claudio Magris’s Postmillennial Narrative

Sandra Parmegiani


This article addresses Magris’s appropriation of classical myth in his postmillennial narrative. Since his early works of literary criticism Magris explored the world of myth and the mythopoeic power of literature, but only in his postmillennial texts has he undertaken the writing of what John J. White defines as “mythological” narratives, in which he engages with the reuse and not the creation of myths. This article focuses on three works: La mostra (2001), Alla cieca (2005), and Lei dunque capirà (2006). It evaluates them as a cycle of closely connected mythological texts, built upon the intertextualization of: the myth of Alcestis, the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Magris’s postmodern investigation of individual and collective histories unveils their traumatic relationship to memory and the impossibility of their unequivocal and coherent representation. The monologue Lei dunque capirà is Magris’s most focused and comprehensive reworking of a classical myth in which a modern Eurydice retells from her standpoint the story of Orpheus’ descent to the underworld. The text is an investigation of myth from a feminist perspective and at the same time an exploration of the theme of love voiced with the mixture of judgment and understanding that only conjugal love allows.

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