Smuggling Ariosto: the Renaissance in the Eyes of Italian Jews, Exiles and Anti-Fascists
Enrico Fantini received his PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics from the Scuola Normale Superiore. His thesis examined the rhetorical evolution of Italian poetry around the political turning point in 1945. In 2015-16, he was visiting student at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. His publications cover topics such as the Italian literature of the twentieth century, intellectuals and the fascist regime, and quantitative stylistics. He also carried out research on the echoes of popular and material culture in the high-level literature of Italian Renaissance, in particular in Ariosto’s works, as well as on the literary genre of lamenti storici.
The anti-Fascist drama Angelica, a forgotten work by the Jewish intellectual Leo Ferrero, is a reworking of Ariosto’s Furioso characterized by relevant Ficinian influences mediated by the treatises of Equicola and by a strong anti-Machiavellian controversy. These sources were taken into reconsideration in the 1920s by noted intellectuals such as Giuseppe Rensi, Gaetano Mosca, and Ortega y Gasset (all of whom were among Leo's correspondents). The study of Angelica’s genesis places it in a cultural environment that can be located in the Italian anti-Fascist community of Jewish tradition. Is it possible to grasp a specific trace of this interest in Ariosto and, more generally, in the Italian Renaissance, in a community linked to an uprooted condition, belonging to a threatened minority, and to a feeling of exile? Is it possible to describe a particular interpretation of Ariosto and of the Renaissance, based on the specific features of this cultural context? Performed between 1936 and 1939 in all the locations of large communities of Italian political exiles (Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Montevideo), Leo’s Angelica provided the opportunity for a wide redefinition of the Renaissance category in the various anti-Fascist families (liberal, socialist, anarchist). Starting from the analysis of this case study, this project describes the unprecedented and multifaceted image of the Renaissance produced by the various dissident minorities.