Il pellegrino e le metafore
Appunti di stilistica leopardiana
The paper investigates Leopardi’s theory of ‘strange (pellegrino)’ (i.e. words or expressions which are distant from ordinary use) as a necessary ingredient of poetic language. Reference is made both to its conceptual roots in Aristotle’s xenikon (discussed in works such as Poetics and Rhetoric) and to its function in Leopardi’s philosophy of language. It is argued that this stylistic device operates at the interplay of cognitive and historical-linguistic factors. On one side, it activates the faculty of imagination, which is the cognitive counterpart of human natural search for pleasure, and enables the production of metaphors; on the other, for a word or a phrase being ‘strange’ or not, depends on the relationships between the literary and the ordinary language, as is shown by the opposite sociolinguistic conditions of Italy and France. In this way, Leopardi’s plea for the ‘strange’-effect implies that the reader plays a decisive role in the working of poetry, insofar as both his imaginative resources and his metalinguistic consciousness are involved in its operation.