Although midday is commonly associated with indolence or the languishing of both nature and humanity in stifling heat, Nicolas Perella shows that this connection—however real—is secondary to an archetypal encounter with noontide as a moment of existential crisis of spiritual as well as erotic dimensions. First tracing the literary presence of this image from classical and biblical antiquity to Nietzsche and other modern writers, he then analyzes the preoccupation with midday in the imagination of Italian authors from Dante to the present.
When the sun is at its point of greatest strength, the blaze of noon is variously experienced as a wave of glory or a moment of dread, as an occasion for reaching out to the Absolute or retreating from the Abyss, as a source of fullness and energy or of emptiness and lethargy, that ultimately may either expand or annihilate being. The author contends that it is the intimation of crisis surrounding this ambiguous moment that accounts for the richly variegated psychological and aesthetic experience of its imagery in Italian literature.
Originally published in 1979.
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