Gianni Celati

Gianni Celati was born in Sondrino, Italy, in 1937. He earned a PhD from Bologna University with a dissertation on James Joyce. In 1966, one of his short stories attracted the attention of Italo Calvino, who was chief editor of the Einaudi publishing house, which in 1971 published Celati’s first book »Comiche«. The following novels »Le Avventure do Guizzardi« (1973), »La Banda die Sospiri« (1976) and »Lunario del Paradiso« (1978) established Celati as an author of the neo-avant-garde group, along with Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino. From 1973 to the early 1980’s he was professor of English and American literature at the University of Bologna, where he worked on his studies of literary aesthetics. After leaving academia, he devoted himself to writing and film making. He produced several experimental documentaries, including »Visioni di casa che crollano« (»Crumbling Houses« ) a critical meditation on the decay of deserted houses in the plains area of the River Po. The prize-winning volume of short stories »Narratori delle pianure« (1985; Engl. »Voices from the Plains« 1991) marks the beginning of Celati’s experimentation with new methods of minimalist narration. Oscillating between fiction and documentary, his extraordinary tales are supposed to have taken place in the everyday lives of existing people. Celati invents a chronicler who not only narrates, but also plays with the idea of narrative.  On the subjects of irony and the grotesque in his short stories, of the cinematographic element in literature, and of the writing process itself, Celati has said: »I had been working on these stories for over twenty years; then, over a long period of time, I rewrote them, partly to keep myself busy and partly to see what was happening to them. When you write stories or read them, you see landscapes and figures and you hear voices: in other words, you have a sort of natural cinema going on in your head, and you don’t need to watch Hollywood films any more.  Seeing, perceiving and observing are also the preeminent issues of »Avventure in Africa« (1998; Eng. »Adventures in Africa« 2000). In 1999, Celati was awarded the New York University Prize for Italian Fiction for this unusual travelogue, which is both a documentary on his unsuccessful film project about the Dogon people of West Africa, and also a record of his own experiences as a tourist. His »Fata Morgana« (2005) tells of a fictitious place in the desert and the tribe of the Gamuna and was awarded the Premio Selezione Campiello. For the subsequent novel »Vite di Pascolanti« (2006) he received the Premio Viareggio Repaci.

span lang=”DE-CH” style=”background: yellow none repeat scroll 0%; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz-initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial;”>Apart from his work as an author he has been a visiting lecturer at several universities. In addition, he has translated the works of numerous writers into Italian, including Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain, Céline, Stendhal, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Conrad and Roland Barthes. Gianni Celati lives in Brighton, UK.

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