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The concept of the lupo mannaro in the literary tradition of northern and southern Italy from the 19th to the 21st century

A comparative analysis


Lycanthropy would appear to be a current condition if recent film production and contemporary literature are to be believed. In her essay, Gianfranca Ranisio probes the current interest in the subject of the lupo mannaro in the Italian cultural context, as the media have attempted to revitalize traditional folklore using state-of-theart instruments and special effects. This phenomenon is manifested first of all by the most recent expression of the reintegration of the legendary past into modern life and, secondly, by the confirmation that its folkloric culture has an inexhaustible and evergreen undisclosed intellectual value.
"La credenza nella licantropia, che potrebbe essere assunta […] come traccia o prodotto di vicende culturali di un tempo già trascorso, in quanto ormai ridotta a ruolo di relitto culturale, riceve in questo modo nuova vitalità perchè inserita in un prodotto di massa quale è quello dell’industria cinematografica. […] In questo modo il tema folklorico viene inserito in una produzione di tipo intellettualistico al fine di ottenere effetti spettacolari.
[Belief in lycanthropy, which could be assumed . . . as a trace or product of cultural situations of the past, because it has now been reduced to the role of a cultural wreck, thus acquires new vitality because it has been included in a mass product such as that of the film industry . . . . Thus, the folkloric theme is inserted into an intellectualistic type of product with the aim of achieving spectacular effects]."
The media revival of this “folkloric horror” must be included in the cultural process whose aim is to rescue, save and protect the rural origins of Europe’s preindustrial
community from the vacuity of the modern middle class and its moral emptiness. According to Ranisio, it is
"il mondo urbano borghese che avverte il vuoto dei valori etico-sociali e che è alla ricerca, quando non di nuovi valori, anche solo di nuovi e diversi contenuti e stimuli e finisce col ritrovare il nuovo nell’antico e cioè in quel patrimonio di usi, costume e credenze e leggende che è il patrimonio demologico europeo.
[the bourgeois urban world that senses the void of ethical-social values and, even if not seeking new values, it may merely be seeking new and different contents and stimuli, and ends up finding the new in the ancient, i.e. in that legacy of customs and beliefs and legends that we call the European demological heritage.]"

 


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