Abstract

The figure of Narcissus has always exerted an uncanny power of attraction. The story of the beautiful boy, who falls in love with his own reflected imago and then dies in the moment of recognition, seems in fact to concern every subject in his own process of identification. Many writers have thus reused Narcissus as a metaphor for the artistic subject, where the mirror image and the death of the boy display the intrinsic tragic duplicity of every work of literature. This article explores differences and similarities between the works of two poets—José Lezama Lima (1910–1976) and Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975)—who have explicitly used Narcissus in their poems. Particularly, it focuses on Lezama Lima's earliest published production, the poem Muerte de Narciso (1937) (Death of Narcissus), and on Pasolini's overarching double collection of poetry in Friulian, La meglio gioventù (1954) (The Best Youth) and La nuova gioventù (The New Youth) (1975). The comparison demonstrates how both Pasolini and Lezama, albeit the differences between Italian and Cuban approach to modernity and modernism, have used the figure of Narcissus as an image of the poetic subject in order to define a double dialectics of identity and dissemination.

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