Publication Details

Loi, L. ""A multi-stemmed flower": reading Sandro Penna in search of modernity." Italica 92 .4 (2015): 836-856.


Sandro Penna's poetry (1906-1977), is a delicate combination of melancholy and exhilaration, and shows innovation and modernity inside the Italian lyrical tradition. Critically stereotyping Penna's poetry as a flower with no evident stem, meaning no external influences, narrows the depth of his literary corpus. In his notes Penna reveals himself as a voracious reader of modern international literature and critics Roberto Deidier and Pierfranco Bruni pointed out that his evident European influences completely lack investigation. Most criticism though do not seem to acknowledge how close Penna's poetry is to the ideas of "modern" and "new" as fostered by Modernists and Imagists. This essay challenges the literary commonplace that Penna is a miracle out of history and time and, investigating Penna's archives and poems, discloses connections, references and similarities between his poetry and the major movements - French Symbolism, Modernism, Imagism - and literary personalities of the twentieth century.