“Lavorare è vestire la terra”. Summer memories in Cesare Pavese’s "Feria d’agosto"
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Feria d’agosto is a collection of short stories from 1946 by Italian author Cesare Pavese. This can be defined as a key publication in Pavese’s work: not only since it contains an inventory of strongly evocative pavesean themes, but also for the great relevance the author gives to the summertime and the idea of feria, which he will re-call again in the more mature triptych of short novels enclosed under the title La bella estate (1949). Indeed, the August ferie symbolize an important topic in the post-war Italian narrative and, especially, in Pavese’s portrayal of the Italian culture of the mid-40s (Alfano, De Medici, Tortora, 2020). The book is divided into three sections, whose titles are significant: “il mare”, “la città”, “la vigna”. The sea, the city and the vineyard are all central loci in Pavese’s writing, where narrative and mythical telling meet. In the first section, all the main characters are boys on the threshold of adolescence, which come from their status of innocence to the one of conscience. In the second section, the city is the place of the working days portrayed as the locus of cognitive experiences, where we can find recurring Pavese’s elements, from the summer deserted streets to the solitary men. While, in the third section, the vineyard represents a religious, mythical element in Pavese’s writings whose interpretation throughout his work is polysemic (Procaccini, 1985). The summertime, then, has a multifarious meaning in Pavese’s work and especially in Feria d’agosto, where the author tends to associate it with childhood, with a ritual passage from ignorance to wisdom, and ultimately, with the relationship modernity maintains with classical myths, thus working
on a all-personal mythical method which the Italian literature, in the 40s, was inheriting from the English, French and American literatures (Fielder, 1954).
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