Prospero. Rivista di letterature e culture straniere è una rivista annuale a stampa e online ad accesso aperto del Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici dell’Università di Trieste (DiSU), pubblicata dal 1994 presso la casa editrice EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste. È apparsa in precedenza con il complemento di titolo Rivista di letterature e civiltà Anglo-germaniche e, dal 2005 al 2011, con quello di Rivista di Letterature straniere, Comparatistica e Studi culturali. La rivista pubblica contributi originali dedicati alle letterature di lingua inglese, tedesca e francese. Prospero ospita contributi inediti di studiosi italiani e stranieri che pongono il testo letterario e l’analisi testuale al centro di più ampie riflessioni di carattere ermeneutico, filologico e storico-culturale. In particolare, si apre alle convergenze di carattere interdisciplinare e transdisciplinare tra la letteratura e gli altri saperi. Numeri monografici curati da guest editors italiani e stranieri su temi specifici si alternano a numeri miscellanei.
The paper intends to analyse Kirsty Logan’s much acclaimed debut novel, The Gracekeepers (2015), by focusing attention on its spatial dimension, particularly on the key-concept of liminality (Klapcsik 2011). Logan’s imaginary topography draws inspiration on her home landscapes, the fascinating harsh environments of the Scottish islands and seacoast, while the fantastic side of the story owes much to Celtic myths and folklore; yet, the novel transcends local colour to provide a universal allegory of contemporary times and their harsh conflicts.
The story is set in a dystopian flooded world suspended between land and sea, with the former inhabited by an elitist minority, the “landlockers,” while 90% of the population, the so-called “damplings,” struggle for daily survival on boats. The investigation of the spatial dimension, however, reveals that this rigid dichotomous structure is in fact undermined by a number of liminal places where characters from different worlds actually meet and exchange experience. The two female protagonists – Callanish and North, a landlocker and a dampling respectively – are destined to bridge all gaps, and their “liminal” love is intended to mark the beginning of a new approach to reality, based on the acceptance of difference, contamination, and hybridity as the only way to salvation. Thus, the novel ends up challenging both realism and fantasy by engaging in a thorough rethinking of boundaries, of clear-cut distinctions between worlds, genders, and even literary genres.
Since their very beginnings as a magmatic concoction of oral tales of very different origins, what Anglophone Western cultures call The Arabian Nights are remarkably open-ended, vertiginously intertwined, replicating framed narratives which ‘bifurcate’ and answer readers and listeners back with amazing panache. After the fundamental arrival on European soil of the stories in book form due to the very successful enterprise of François Galland, The Nights have undoubtedly been an unrelenting presence in global cultures, so much so that it would be easier to detect writers, artists, cultures who and which do not inscribe them within their textures. While the nineteenth century has seen very innovative and allegedly ‘authentic’ translations, it has also inaugurated a trend towards a series of declared rewritings and reappropriations, often vociferously claimed by widely intended ‘Arabian’, non-European, global authors. Among the very recent re-surfacings of this well of stories that I shall briefly survey, I chose to focus mainly on Salman Rushdie’s Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (2015), a lively repository of histories and stories in which he reads through the Nights and sees post-modernity, global capitalism and terrorism through his usual ironical glittering fairy-tale-like lenses. In his usual irreverent style, Rushdie refashions Scheherazade’s voice and uses the tradition of the Nights to merge updated circulatory materials which range from Ibn Rushd to millennial New York and the world of the jinni. While a continuous presence in Rushdie’s writing, these Nights seem innovative in their ending with a reassuring shift away from programmatic open-endedness, with a collective chorus who brush chaos off page and acknowledge the “extravagant” circulation of stories set in a securely distant past, but also distance them away from the seductive power of a tricky woman narrator or ‘heroine’.