European intellectual, writer to speak in Bloomington campus

UPDATED 11/1: This lecture is canceled due to travel complications caused by Hurricane Sandy’s landfall on the East Coast.

European intellectual and writer Claudio Magris will speak about his latest novel, “Blindly,” at 4 p.m. Nov. 2 in the faculty room of the Indiana Memorial Union University Club.

Born in Trieste, Italy, the professor of Germanic studies at Trieste University has spent much of his life near the border of what is now Italy and Slovenia, with Croatia just to the south and Austria to the north.

Claudio Magris

Claudio Magris

This intricate territory — together with areas now part of nations such as Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia republics — for centuries belonged to the Austrian empire, ruled by the Hapsburg house. Before being annexed to Italy after World War I, Trieste was for centuries the free city-port of the Austrian empire and, from the end of World War II to the early 1990s, was the last or first western European city encountered by voyagers going or coming from the southeastern part of the communist bloc.

“Magris’ works reflect the affinities and the discrepancies caused by both the integration and the separation of these geographical areas, pointing to the heritage of the Austrian empire as a fundamental subterraneous cultural link amongst different people and cultures,” said Andrea Ciccarelli, chair of the university’s Department of French and Italian. “He believes modern European culture resides in the flourishing of local geo-cultural identities that survive and thrive under a broader global power, be it the Austrian empire or the later Soviet rule.”

Magris’ 1963 writings on the Hapsburg myth in modern Austrian literature is still considered a breakthrough in the field of studies of the late literary production of the Austrian empire. His latest book has received high praise as well — John Banville defined it as “extraordinarily inventive,” while Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer called it a “revelation of what the novel can be.”

Among other awards, Magris has received the Strega Prize; the Erasmus Prize; the Gold Medal of the Fine Arts Academy of Madrid; the Asturias Award of the royal family of Spain; the Austrian State Prize for European Literature; and the Frankfurt Book Fair National Award.

Magris’ visit is sponsored by the Olga Ragusa Fund for the Study of Modern Italian Literature and Culture in the Department of French and Italian, part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

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