Cosetta Veronese
Universität Basel
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In the middle of Gadda’s Mess: Shakespeare
Dedalus 19 (2015), pp. 207-229. Download PDF

The essay offers a study of the presence of Shakespeare’s works in Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana, a 1957 novel by the Italian writer Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973). Considered by many Gadda’s masterpiece, the Pasticciaccio is a detective story set in Rome in 1927 and revolving around the unresolved murder of a young woman, Liliana Balducci. The Shakespearean canon was for Gadda a fundamental literary work to which he returned on and on, because it expressed, as he repeatedly confessed in interviews and other works, his own apprehension of the complexity of reality.
After presenting briefly what this complexity consists of for Gadda, the essay explores the influence of Shakespeare’s works in the Pasticciaccio. Shakespeare’s presence in the text is unsystematic: it concerns characters, their relationships and functions, objects and themes of the novel. And it can be perceived at different levels: at times it is easily detectable, but more often it turns out to be subterranean and subtle. Threads are sometimes loose, and features of plays such as Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice often operate at the deep level of the author’s Weltanschauung, they betray his view of human relationships and of mankind’s relationship to the world.