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The thread of Gianfranco Folena. Each text is a fabric of stories

Il filo di Gianfranco Folena. Ogni testo un tessuto di storie Carole P. Kunstadt (1951), «Sacred Poem XXX ” (2017, Mixed technique)

Vulgarize and translate . The language of chaos . Italian in Europe . There are, in the history of each discipline, titles that turn into shared formulas and become the cornerstones of each new study on certain periods, aspects, topics. Precisely what has happened for many works by Gianfranco Folena, the great philologist and historian of the Italian language who would have turned 100 on April 9th. And not only because, as has been said, Folena “had the gift of titles”: but also – and above all – because each of his works responded to an original idea, to an interpretation that started strictly from the texts, and then expanded until rebuilding an entire culture.

Gianfranco Folena (Savigliano, Cuneo, 9 aprile 1920 – Padova, 14 febbraio 1992)
Gianfranco Folena (Savigliano, Cuneo, April 9 1920 – Padua, 14 February 1992)

Textus testis , as another of its titles (of an essay by 1973, then taken up again for the collection published by Bollati Boringhieri in 2002): the text, and the intertwining of threads that etymologically represents, as a witness – in fact – of an era, a thought, an attitude . Whether it is the transition from one language to another as it is configured in the different conceptions of the Middle Ages and modernity ( Vulgarize and translate , Einaudi, 1991) or of the multilingual rebellion against the classical ideal of the Renaissance ( The language of chaos , Bollati Boringhieri, 1991) or of the de-provincialisation of the Italian in the era of the Enlightenment ( Italian in Europe , Einaudi, 1983).

His books were often born from the stratification of individual essays – sometimes born as occasional interventions for conferences, conferences, anniversaries – which at a certain point found a place, such as tesserae of a mosaic, in a single design. Being able to create the map of a certain linguistic landscape, according to a variable scale that goes from the history of the single word (memorable that of brat ) to the turn of the horizon on general issues , like the linguistic consequences of the discovery of America. With a particular curiosity for the middle lands, on the border between languages, mentalities, different atmospheres: linguistic and stylistic hybridism, the Italian of Mozart and Voltaire, the theater of Goldoni in language and dialect (with a decisive revaluation of the first), the rhetoric of advertising language. And with a certain predilection for the traditionally considered moments of “linguistic crisis”, such as the fifteenth century or – perhaps his favorite – the eighteenth century, seen however as dynamic phases of growth.

Its first publication dates back to 1941, when it was still student: then a sudden break. Until the moment when – he told in an essay of his Philology and humanity (Neri Pozza, 1993: the last title chosen by him) – «after six years of distance», passed first to the front and then as a prisoner in India, «I returned to the 46 in a spooky but alive Florence and I found my teachers again ». Those who had followed him since he was seventeen, entered the Scuola Normale in Pisa: Luigi Russo, Giorgio Pasquali; then Giacomo Devoto and – above all – Bruno Migliorini, who from 1938 covered Florence the first chair of History of the Italian language. “It was he with his serene and mild firmness, with his peaceful and communicative trust in collective work, who led me out of the tunnel where I was.” Ten years later, Folena would become full professor of that same subject at the University of Padua.

Yet, in remembering his teacher, he defines himself as a “schoolboy”. Faithful to an idea of ​​academic school as a place for sharing a method and knowledge; but, before and even more than that, a great passion for studying. Love for research, gratitude for teachers, affection for students: in the sign of continuity that gives a real sense to teaching. And with his extraordinary magisterium, also thanks to the many initiatives that still continue in his name (such as the Paduan Philological-Linguistic Circle, founded by him in 1963), that passion Folena managed to pass it on to several generations of scholars. «He did not bring philology to everyone», wrote Cesare Cases in 1992, in the aftermath of his death, « but he turned everyone into philologists “.

A committee to celebrate it

For the centenary of the Folena was born, the National Committee was chaired by Claudio Marazzini, president of the Accademia della Crusca, and composed of Roberto Antonelli, Sergio Bozzola, Massimo Bray, Andrea Colasio, Pietro Folena, Pasquale Gagliardi, Gianfelice Peron, Ivano Paccagnella (treasurer ), Francesco Sabatini and Luca Serianni. It starts in October in Padua with the conference Gianfranco Folena. Attendance, continuity, study prospects . The Committee has set up the gianfrancofolena.it website.

April 5 2020 (change on April 5 2020 | 19: 29))

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