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From the Experimental to Experimentalism. Italo Calvino and Julio Cortázar in Paris (1963-1973)

Duran, JP; (2016) From the Experimental to Experimentalism. Italo Calvino and Julio Cortázar in Paris (1963-1973). Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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This thesis analyses a shift in the history of experimental writing during which literary experimentation stopped being circumscribed by the historical avant-gardes and adopted a more democratic, ludic and inclusive approach to the textual experience: what I will term an experimentalism. In order to illuminate this shift I will explore works written in Paris by Julio Cortázar and Italo Calvino between 1963 and 1973, including Cortázar’s Rayuela (1963) [Hopscotch (1966)], 62: Modelo para armar (1968) [62: A Model Kit (1972)] and Libro de Manuel (1973) [A Manual for Manuel (1978)], and Calvino’s Le cosmicomiche (1965) [Cosmicomics (1968)], Il castello dei destini incrociati (1969) [The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1976)] and Le città invisibili (1972) [Invisible Cities (1974)]. I will also pay special attention to their collaboration, La fosse de Babel (1972), as it combines their experimentalisms and is pivotal to the shift I theorise. I will read this development of the experimental as a product of a history that begins with Émile Zola’s Le Roman Experimental (1880), through which the novel became a laboratory for social experiment, changing with the emergence of the historical avant-gardes between the 1910s and 1930s, as the experiment focused on language in order to challenge tradition and the establishment. I will offer a revision of Umberto Eco’s reading on this shift while challenging his ideas on the open work. This will allow me to undertake a comparative study of Cortázar’s and Calvino’s experimental writings in Paris, where other new avant-garde groups such as the nouveau roman writers were publishing innovative novels and members of the Oulipo were exploring the potentiality of literary constraints. I will, however, contend that the events of May ’68 triggered a point of no return for their experimental practices. Influenced by the Cuban revolution, Cortázar developed his revolutionary poetics further, while Calvino continued to play with combinatorial inventiveness, vouchsafing his membership in the Oulipo in 1973. Such a comparison will provide a contextual understanding to these authors’ experimentalisms at the same time that will venture a re-examination of its political and critical meanings.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: From the Experimental to Experimentalism. Italo Calvino and Julio Cortázar in Paris (1963-1973)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Experimentalism, Italo Calvino, Julio Cortázar, 1960s, Open Work, New Avant-Garde
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1476294
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