Mayakovsky at Mirafori: Operaismo and the Negation of Poetry

  • Alberto Toscano
Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


This chapter seeks to redress the neglect of poetics in the reception of Italian workerist Marxism (operaismo) by exploring some writings on Vladimir Mayakovsky by Alberto Asor Rosa, the foremost operaista literary critic. For Asor Rosa, Mayakovsky embodies the utopian premise of the ‘revolutionary intellectual’, which makes possible an instrumentalist conception of poetics, shared by avant-garde ideology and Stalinism. Asor Rosa contrasts this with a conception of poetry as intrinsically bourgeois in its autonomy and separation. The chapter challenges the parameters of Asor Rosa’s position by investigating two dimensions neglected by the Italian critic: Mayakovsky’s own antagonistic thematization of byt (everyday life) and the role of temporal unevenness in the making of his poetry (as emphasized in Leon Trotsky’s writings on the Soviet poet).

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberto Toscano
    • 1
  1. 1.Goldsmiths, University of LondonLondonUK

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