The aesthetics of challenge: Mario Perniola and Dandyism
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This thesis compares the work of the Italian philosopher and writer Mario Perniola and the phenomenon of dandyism. Specifically, it focuses on Perniola’s aesthetic and philosophical thought in order to develop and explore its affinity with three exemplar dandies, namely George Bryan Brummell (1778-1840), Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), and Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). The thesis’s aim is to show that Perniola’s philosophy can be considered a “dandy” philosophy. In fact, as I will argue over the course of this research, his theoretical perspective finds in the dandies’ lifestyles a significant realisation, that is, his thought can be considered as an embodiment of the dandies’ key behaviours and attitudes. Specifically, my work will provide an original contribution on three main points. First, although Perniola’s writings have been translated into over fifteen languages, and in spite of a copious number of reviews, articles and texts published on his work, no scholar has yet highlighted the link between his philosophy and dandyism. This thesis elucidates Perniola’s work precisely by interpreting it through that phenomenon, thus giving a central significance to a topic (i.e. dandyism) that has not yet been related to the Italian philosopher. Second, the scholarly literature on Perniola covers specific areas of his research and does not consider it as a whole. This thesis, in contrast, takes into account both youthful and mature writings, providing a comprehensive enquiry into Perniola’s reflection. In so doing it will be the first study ever written on the whole of Perniola’s thought. Finally, having had access to Perniola’s private archive, I was able to gather exhaustive bibliographic material which allowed me to elaborate the first complete bibliography of Perniola’s published works. The appendix at the end of this thesis includes books, articles, interviews, essays, and reviews published by Perniola (both in Italian and in English). Thus, my thesis provides a thorough bibliography of primary sources on Perniola useful to those scholars who wish to further the investigation of the Italian philosopher.
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