Les Murray on Europe and Europa

Prof. Enrico Reggianimurray photo

[still decluttering past work from my drawers: this time, the abstract of a paper I read at the Bari 2007 AIA (Associazione Italiana di Anglistica) 23rd Conference, Forms of Migration/Migration of Forms; it’s part of a ongoing research project on Europe in Anglophone Literature]

Migrating between Europe and Europa? An interpretation of Les A. Murray’s “Sanskrit” (1972)

The perception and the representation of the so-called Old Continent by authors writing in English can often be seen as the result of complex migration dynamics, involving each time and/or alternatively cultural models of integration, intersection, division, opposition, et al.. Such cultural dynamics could be read by accurately taking into consideration the relationships between two different approaches which can be epitomized through two complementary linguistic and symbolic (sort of) euromatrices (let alone a third marginal option, which will only be hinted at in the final paper).

The first euromatrix, on the one hand, may be condensed in the term Europa, monetawhose classical form strives for the universal spaces and landscapes of myth, plays on its own uncertain etymological roots and evokes the character of the maiden abducted by Jove disguised as a bull, on whose mythological narrative both the conception of Europe and a substantial part of the epistemological experience of the European world are rooted.

On the other hand, the second euromatrix may be seen as evolving around the term Europe, whose modern form aims at denoting a particulare (as Guicciardini would say) within the landscape of History: a particulare, of course, which, to the English/British/Postcolonial (etc.) writer who each time fixes its spatial and temporal borders, is chosen precisely for its flesh and spirit, its quantity and quality, its tradition and future prospects, etc.

Obviously, these two euromatrices should be considered as extreme options: between them, there thrive countless in-between shades which are well-documented throughout the boundless repertoire of the literatures (in) English and keep on migrating to their remotest corners.

poems against economics cover   My paper, which is part of a wider research project on the perception and the representation of Europe, will adhere to the interpretive perspective which has been sketchily outlined above and will be devoted to an analysis of Sanskrit – a poem (from the sequence Walking to the Cattle Place. A Meditation) by the Australian Catholic poet Les A. Murray, published in the collection Poems against Economics (1972) – and of its intercultural and intertextual reinterpretation of (literary and  anthropological) migration.

poem sanskrit


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