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I’m looking forward to the forthcoming translation of Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone, but this description (though entrancing) gave me pause:

In fact, the work can also be read as a very early example of a non-linear text. Any single entry can be connected to one or more others: the book is a kind of net. Indexes are indispensable here, and Leopardi even made one of his own. The actual content of the diary, with its pitiless analyses of modernity, ranges from philosophical and moral questions, questions concerning man, nature and society, literary matters of course, the special status of poetry, through to scientific, political and linguistic issues...

In short, an interlinked though desultory miscellany. It’s certainly ‘early’ in comparison to (say) the non-linear novels of Milorad Pavić, or (less purposefully) the numerous fragments that compose the Book of Disquiet; but it doesn’t seem at all early when one thinks of the assemblage of the Biblical scriptures and all the subsequent critical work that has gone into tracing resonances between verses. It might be more accurate to call Leopardi a ‘very early’ example of a modern man of letters querying the modern reader’s expectations of what authorship is about. Not that the work was actually ‘intended for publication in its present form, full of second thoughts and additions and deletions’...

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