Anna Botta (Smith College, USA)

A group of Italian intellectuals (including Italo Calvino and Gianni Celati) came together between 1968 and 1972 in a failed attempt to found a new literary review, Alì Babà. Their articles, protocols and letters constitute a fertile ground for understanding the '70s and the authors' view of history. Against the dominant historical discourse (what Nietzsche called "monumental History,"a history which construes events in a meaningful teleonomic pattern and is centered around man), the group focuses its attention onto objects and professes an archeological poetics akin to Walter Benjamin's attention for the "objet enfoui" and Georges Perec's interest for the "infra-ordinaire". Calvino and Celati invite us to scrutinize the bazaar or warehouse of mankind in order to detect the silent, minimal and fragmented traces of our reality. As in the aesthetics of Marcel Duchamp and other twentieth-century avant-garde artists, detritus and dust are thus viewed by the two writers as symbols of resistance to the blind unfolding of monumental History.