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Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Italian Nietzsche (1)

Giovanni Papini, L'altra metà. Saggio di filosofia mefistofelica [The Other Half: An Assay of Mephistophelian Philosophy], Ancona, IT: Giovanni Puccini e Figli Editori, 1911

With these free, independent reflections on "the other half" of things and thought: Nothingness, Diversity, Impossibility, Ignorance, Error, Madness, Not-Doing, Evil, Uselessness, the then just 30-year-old Papini aimed at doing more than Nietzsche himself.

An early member of the newly founded (1909) Futurism, he was a controversial writer -- both ways: he against all, and vice versa -- for all his life, both before and after his non-harmless conversion to Catholic faith. Pope Benedict XVI once caused a fuss when he said that he had read and appreciated Papini's Storia di Cristo [The History of Christ], that includes some virulently anti-Semitic pages.(*) Anyway, one of Papini's last works, the puzzling Il diavolo [The Devil], is among the most interesting books on the subject, along with Origen's and Milton's. Even more clearly than Origen, he stated that Satan is already in time to be redeemed.

L'altra metà would deserve to be integrally translated. We'll be posting here many brief passages from throughout the book in the following weeks; without tagging them as Off Topic because Giovanni Papini is one of the rare true outsiders in the eight-century-old history of Italian Literature, together with Torquato Tasso, in fact, Giacomo Leopardi, and Pierpaolo Pasolini.

(*) Incidentally, the 'original' Nietzsche was no anti-Semite; he even lost his friendship with Richard Wagner precisely because of the latter's racist attitude against Jews.