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Fabrizio De Andrè and Spoon River Anthology

During the Fascist era American literature was obviously repressed by the regime but the book incredibly managed to avoid the censorship by having its name changed in “S. River Anthology”, passing off as a collection of thoughts by an unlikely Saint River.

These stories touched De Andrè and in 1971 his album “Non al denaro, non all’amore né al cielo”, loosely based on Spoon River Anthology, was released. De Andrè selected nine of the 244 poems and he turned them into songs. These nine poems deal with two main themes: envy (Un matto, Un giudice, Un blasfemo, Un malato di cuore) and science (Un medico, Un chimico, Un ottico).Fabrizio’s work’s extraordinary. He rewrote the poems making them topical, which, of course, required a modification of the original texts. Nevertheless, the two authors’ texts are very similar. In particular, Fiddler Jones is certainly the most important character in both Masters’ and De Andrè’s collections.

Fiddler Jones, who is described in the song of the same name, represents the ability to interpret his own world’s problems and concerns. What is more, he can completely change the other characters’ prerogatives. While everyone can only see the evils of the world, Jones stands out thanks to his music. For example, unlikely the judge (“un Giudice”) who is a victim of prejudice, Jones accepts the people’s expectation: he has to play throughout his life but this makes him happy.
He is the only character to be called by name and also the only one who asserts he had lived a long and peaceful life without regrets. The Fiddler demonstrates his ability to see reality’s hidden messages even better than the optician (“Un ottico”); he can save the spirits of those who listen to him better than the doctor (“Un medico”); he enjoys his life unlikely the sufferer of heart (“Un malato di cuore”).
De Andrè puts his album’s ending and message in the hands of fiddler Jones: the only way to live a peaceful existence is to be willing towards life and to pledge it to the seek for an immaterial freedom, in which actions and thoughts have infinite possibilities. This is the only way to make life light and pure. Human relationships, feelings and ideals instead can only bring sorrow and limitations, causing the dramas on which Spoon River’s theatre’s based.

Masters and Fabrizio are both great poets, both are pacifists, anarchic libertarians and both evoke their generations’ dreams.

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