Abjection and aesthetic conflict in Boccaccio's (L)Isabetta
Abstract:In 1982, the Italian literary critic Mario Lavagetto asked five other critics to comment on Boccaccio's tale of Lisabetta (fifth story, fourth day in the Decameron). This combined effort of different readers working on the same text could also be interpreted as their attempt to unravel the secret of its extraordinary fascination. This article aims to explain this power, drawing on Julia Kristeva's notion of abjection and Donald Meltzer's concept of aesthetic conflict. Both interpretive categories would appear to be particularly useful in making sense of the central scene of the narrative where Lisabetta digs up Lorenzo's corpse and cuts off the head. Closely connected with its enduring fascination, this scene of sheer horror is both the centre and the key to the plot. From a psychoanalytic standpoint, it also has a metatextual function, in that it seems to allude, indirectly, to the very mechanism by which a strong aesthetic impact is produced in the reader (and indeed, in anyone having an aesthetic experience). One may summarize the sense of such experience paraphrasing Rilke's words: beauty simply is the horror that we are able to think.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2010
More about this publication?
- Journal of Romance Studies promotes innovative critical work in the areas of linguistics, literature, performing and visual arts, media, material culture, intellectual and cultural history, critical and cultural theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, social sciences, and anthropology. The primary focus is on those parts of the world that speak, or have spoken, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, but work on other cultures may be included. Issues cross national and disciplinary boundaries in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about cultural history and practice.
Published in Association with the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
- Editorial Board
- Information for Authors
- Submit a Paper
- Subscribe to this Title
- Information for Advertisers
- Terms & Conditions
- Aims and Scope
- Recommend to your Library
- Sample Copy Request
- ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites