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Das Schaufenster als Ewigkeitsort in Giorgio Bassanis ‚L’airone‘

Stefan Bub

Pages 81 - 97

The following article examines a curious and decisive scene in Giorgio Bassani’s novel ‚L’airone‘ (1968) − the encounter of the protagonist Edgardo Limentani with taxidermied animals behind a shop window after a strange bird hunting in the Po Delta − in the context of the shop window as a literary motif. During the second half of the 19th century, together with the appearance of the department store, the display of goods unfolds a charm, which bears specific aesthetic and (pseudo-)religious, or even fetishistic characteristics. However, the animals behind the separating glass do not entice world-weary Edgardo Limentani who rather perceives an immobilized being. In a “frozen” moment things appear to be saved and complete − in opposition to the notions of decay and illusion, that still lifes and taxidermied animals are associated with, for example in Gustave Flaubert’s ‚Un coeur simple‘ (to which Bassani alludes in his text). Thus, the shop window of the “imbalsamatore” offers the protagonist, who has recognized his image in a dying heron and decides to commit suicide, the idea of a transcendent space (far from religious concepts), which he longs to become part of.


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