Monday, April 6, 2015


Graziano Arrighetti, Luciano Canfora, Augusto Guida, Luciano Bossina, Domenico De Martino, Giorgio Pasquali sessant'anni dopo. Atti della Giornata di studio (Firenze, 1° ottobre 2012). Margaritae, 2. Firenze: Accademia Fiorentina di Papirologia e di Studi sul Mondo Antico, 2014. Pp. 127. ISBN 9788890875212. €25.00 (pb).

Reviewed by James E. G. Zetzel, Columbia University (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

Giorgio Pasquali was killed at the age of 67 in a road accident in July 1952; a commemorative issue of the periodical Atene e Roma appeared later that year. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of his death, Lanfranco Caretti edited Per Giorgio Pasquali (Pisa, 1972) including reminiscences and some substantial essays on his writing and scholarship by such scholars as Antonio La Penna, Alessandro Ronconi, Sebestiano Timpanaro, and Caretti himself, together with bibliographies of Pasquali's writings and of important works about him. In 2012, for the sixtieth anniversary of his death, the Accademia Fiorentina di Papirologia e di Studi sul Mondo Antico sponsored a conference about Pasquali; the papers delivered then make up the contents of this volume.

While these three collections are only a small part of what has been written about Pasquali since 1952—the footnotes in the various essays in the volume under review make that evident—there are links among them: some of the contributions in 1972 were reprinted from the 1952 collection or are by the same authors, and Pasquali's relationship with Lanfranco Caretti, the editor of the 1972 volume, is the subject of Domenico de Martino's essay in this one. All three—and I am sure other publications as well—are also joined together by the presence in each of the same memorable photograph of Pasquali in animated conversation, taken on the Via Tornabuoni in Florence in May of 1951.

Italian scholarship is conscious of its own history in a way that American scholarship rarely is. Even though few of Pasquali's students are still active, his academic descendants are rightly proud of the heritage: he was a distinctive as well as a distinguished scholar. What is more, not the least important part of his writings, a notable element in the four collected volumes of his Pagine Stravaganti, are his own portraits of other scholars, the subject of the first paper in the present volume, written by Graziano Arrighetti, himself a student of Pasquali.

Arrighetti's paper ("Pasquali Ritrattista," 3-27) makes an excellent introduction to Pasquali. His verbal portraits were deservedly famous and often memorable; and as has long been recognized, Pasquali's sketches of others reveal a great deal about Pasquali himself. Arrighetti pays particular attention first to Pasquali's discussion of Domenico Comparetti and then, more extensively, to his essay on Wilamowitz, including the comparison of Wilamowitz (one of Pasquali's own teachers) to his father-in-law Mommsen; he brings out very clearly the reasons for Pasquali's admiration for the teaching methods of the one and his dislike of the other—and how, later, that dislike was tempered by the sad codicil to Mommsen's will, expressing his dissatisfaction with his own scholarship.1 Arrighetti's account makes clear the importance both of his years at Göttingen and of active and engaged teaching to Pasquali, whose seminars at the Scuola Normale Superiore were famous. The two subsequent papers by Luciano Canfora and Augusto Guida will be of less interest to most classicists: Canfora's is a brief and elliptical account of Pasquali's views of the German socialist revolution of 1919, and Guida's is an elaborate explanation of Pasquali's (relatively minor) role in the meeting of Wilamowitz and Thomas Mann in Florence in 1925.

The remaining two papers, by Luciano Bossina ("Pasquali e Pascoli") and Domenico De Martino ("Pasquali maestro di italianisti"), bear directly on the two works with are most frequently read today, Pasquali's famous article on "Arte Allusiva" published in 1942 2 and what is undoubtedly his most enduring work, still unreplaced and a masterpiece of Pasquali's distinctive style of scholarship, Storia della tradizione e critica del testo. That massive work, originally published in 1934 and reprinted with a new introduction and some appendices in the year of Pasquali's death, began life as a review of Paul Maas's brief and lapidary Textkritik; it is perhaps the most extreme example of a review being much longer than the work reviewed.3 Maas's work is theoretically elegant and almost useless in practice: since he almost completely ignores the problem of contaminated traditions, his stemmatics are useful only for closed traditions (to use Pasquali's term), of which there are very few. Pasquali, on the other hand, deals at great length with all the messy but fascinating and important particulars on which Maasian stemmatics founder. As De Martino shows, using Pasquali's correspondence with Caretti, the broad sweep of Storia—from Homer to the Renaissance, and beyond—and Pasquali's emphasis on the varieties of transmission and on the problem of author's variants are closely connected; his exchanges with Caretti influenced the thoughts of both of them. De Martino does not go on to connect their ideas about the two forms of apparatus—diachronic and synchronic, authorial changes and errors of transmission—with the later development of the (post)modern theory of editing, but he might; modern textual critics as well as classicists should take note.

Finally, Bossina on Pasquali and Pascoli. This is a long and detailed study of several aspects of Pasquali's work on Pascoli, particularly on Pascoli's Latin poems, but what is most significant (for a Latinist, at any rate) is what it reveals about the background to Pasquali's "Arte allusiva." Long before intertextuality, and long before Gian Biagio Conte's 1971 article on "Memoria dei poeti e arte allusiva",4 Pasquali had described and explained the allusive relationship between the learned poets of Alexandria and Rome and the texts to which they alluded. Bossina not only places the issue in the context of Pasquali's defense of philology against Crocean aesthetics, but shows both that Pasquali's "Arte allusiva"—largely about Virgil—draws heavily on his earlier study of Pascoli's Latin poetry (1937), and that the whole construction of arte allusiva is drawn from Pascoli's prose essays as much as from Pasquali's essay about Pascoli.5 It is, in short, a fine display of the critical techniques used in discussing allusion applied here to dissecting Pasquali's own writing about allusion.

The papers in this volume all contribute in one way or another to the reader's understanding of Pasquali's life and scholarship. It should be said, however, that for someone not already familiar with this terrain, there are easier places to begin. Arrighetti's article offers a way in to the importance of Göttingen in Pasquali's scholarly development and to a lesser extent Canfora and Guida help understand the broader significance of his German connections; Bossina places his literary criticism in the context of contemporary debates in Italy; De Martino gives important background for Storia. But in general the focus of these papers is on the details rather than the context—and after sixty years of work on Pasquali, that is not altogether surprising. Not everything is said, and not everything is explained; there are many references back to the papers in Per Giorgio Pasquali, and indeed that volume is a much better, and broader, starting point.

In the course of his paper on "Pasquali ritrattista," in fact, Arrighetti cites another article on Pasquali that is, for me, an even better introduction. The last book Pasquali completed before his death was Storia dello spirito tedesco nelle memorie d'un contemporaneo,6 an extended meditation on the memoirs of Pasquali's friend Ludwig Curtius. At Curtius' request, Pasquali's book was reviewed in Gnomon by Eduard Fraenkel, with the further instruction that the review should be about Pasquali, not about Curtius. Fraenkel complied, and he placed this vivid and moving essay—which he wrote in Pasquali's intellectual home, the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa—as the final item in his own Kleine Beiträge. 7 Fraenkel, like his good friend Pasquali, excelled at biographical sketches of other scholars that are an integral part of their own scholarship: both men wrote about Wilamowitz and Aby Warburg; both men always remembered their debts to, and profound affection for, the teachers of their youth at Göttingen and Berlin. In their study of Latin literature and its traditions (both where it came from and how it was preserved and studied), both men were above all disciples of Friedrich Leo—and as a result, although their writings are quite different in style and aims, the links between them are unmistakable, above all in the combination of philological and historical rigor with a sense of the living personality of their subjects.

Fraenkel seems to me a more austere scholar than Pasquali, and less inclined to venture outside the field of his professional expertise (which was, to be sure, not small). But to pair them seems appropriate: one of the most significant traditions of Latin scholarship in the twentieth century began at Göttingen in Leo's seminar, and it was Pasquali and Fraenkel who spread it to the Italian- and English-speaking scholarly communities respectively. But intellectual affiliations aside, Pasquali in his own right is a towering figure, a great scholar and a great critic. This volume and its predecessors are useful introductions to his qualities, but there is a better one: read Pasquali himself. More than sixty years after his death, his writing and his personality are as alive as ever.

Table of Contents

Graziano Arrighetti, "Pasquali ritrattista" (1-27)
Luciano Canfora, "Pasquali e la Germania: i socialisti tedeschi" (29-36)
Augusto Guida, "Firenze maggio 1925: l'incontro di Thomas Mann con Wilamowitz, Pasquali, e Snell" (37-57)
Luciano Bossina, "Pasquali e Pascoli" (59-96)
Domenico De Martino, "Pasquali maestro di italianisti: il caso di Lanfranco Caretti" (97-113)
Luciano Bossina, "L'immagine di me voglio che sia" (115-118)


1.   "Domenico Comparetti" and "Ulrico di Wilamowitz-Moellendorff" in G. Pasquali, Pagine stravaganti (second edition, Florence, 1968) 1:3-25 and 65-92 respectively.
2.   "Arte allusiva" originally published in Italia che scrive 25 (1942) 185-87; reprinted in Pagine stravaganti 2: 275-82.
3.   Storia della tradizione e critica del testo (Florence, 1934; second edition, Florence 1952 and reprinted since). The original review of Maas appeared in Gnomon 5 (1929), 417-435, 498-521.
4.   Originally published in Strumenti critici 5 (1971) 325-33; reprinted in G. B. Conte, Memoria dei poeti e sistema letterario. Catullo, Virgilio, Ovidio, Lucano (Turin, 1974); translated in G. B. Conte, The Rhetoric of Imitation (Ithaca, 1986).
5.   The major essay on Pascoli is "Poesia latina del Pascoli," most readily accessible in Pagine stravaganti 2: 176-189.
6.   G. Pasquali, Storia dello spirito tedesco nelle memorie d'un contemporaneo (Florence, 1953).
7.   Originally published in Gnomon 26 (1954) 337-41; reprinted in E. Fraenkel, Kleine Beiträge zur klassischen Philologie (Rome, 1964) 2: 601-607. The information about Curtius' request to Fraenkel is in note 2.

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