Translated by Jennifer Scappettone

Translator’s Note: The last major work of Futurism’s founder, Venezianella e Studentaccio—a self-proclaimed "aeronovel or aeropoem” of 125 pages—is a rare example of experimental narrative in modern Italian literature. Dictated to his wife Benedetta, daughters, and colleagues in Venice in 1943–44, in the midst of grave illness and a world and civil war, Marinetti's virtually unpunctuated epic of "words in freedom" revisits, and revises, the aesthetic and ideological foundations of Futurism. It imagines rebuilding an outmoded, feminized, and culturally heterogeneous cosmopolis the movement once proposed to destroy—in the form of an inhabitable female colossus of Murano glass. Reversing the foundational Futurist imperative expressed in the manifesto "Against Passéist Venice” and related 1910 "happening” in St. Mark’s Square, this desperate and hallucinatory text yields to, and "immensifies," the city’s feminine, historically and culturally eclectic depths—rendering the monodirectional impulses of the Futurist enterprise kaleidoscopic.

Jennifer Scappettone

from In search of sweet simultaneity

   The sirocco wind advises the waves that Bernini curves
   —Paint the proletarian keel with an original and refined brush and then hurry to discharge bitter moons and jocund moons
   In the black water in dynamisms of a skirt elegance at the little feet bubbles of air
   The futurist glassworkers lullabying with blowpipes in shoulder salute formation go enforesting themselves in the penumbras of the city rivulets and canals while with the indefatigability of rich caravaners the bridges camel and dromedarize the final sacks of gold bars of sun at dusk
   The analytic and meticulous liquidating Night explains
   —Since the origin of Venice is a flight from terra firma to islands in collaboration with fortune it’s indisputable that this masterpiece isn’t necessarily the outcome of a precise predetermined plan but can also be born haphazardly labyrinthinely by chance
   Studentaccio concludes
   —Let us proceed to create a plan with our steps which detaching themselves from us waver like various little liquid mirrors of water in accord with the retouchings of tones that foreign painters passing through dreamt of interrupted by meals by sleep by the rain or by an artistic bug 
   Roused by ever new mishmashes of penumbras the images mate with other images
   With plunks plashes and undertow flooded Venice like an immense nuptial bedroom a sickbed pushes its bedded ones exhaustedly toward joy in green sheets adrift and these resemble Her and Him
   A mirror drinks them rolling in the peata barge gazes at them rabidly gulps down garrets balconies cupolas to the point that the rowers entreat it not to go too far
Studentaccio’s mind is muddled & between dazzled lashes mistakes two trunks in a gondola for crowned rulers below the long scepter of the gondolier
   —Could they perhaps have abducted our Venezianella?
   Losing one’s way is certainly pleasant and atrocious
   He feels like that rowboat inlaid in a water of dark glass and his groaning rudder of a heart imagines itself an ocarina muffled by distance
   After having deciphered an announcement on the wall addressed to volunteers and Red Cross nurses with the blind lantern Studentaccio dismisses his futurist glassworker friends and interrogates the intense blackening turquoise of the prismatic semispherical tunabellyish clodhopperlike corners of the hovel face to face each and all preoccupied with the utterly secret consciousness of the final canal
   The air is a heavy fraying of memories in minutest plaits of regret and dissuades his legs from walking
   At times a breeze as of a fat lady gives a resinous pitch to his cheeks and the wood pillars that reveals the moored rafts to be immovable
   The canal is an unbandaged doge’s galley become a collier overloaded with coal
   Studentaccio immobile stiff as an old extinguished lamp of broken glass
   He remembers that he’ll have to light up again in a month maybe less to catch up with his university battalion though the wound in his thigh burns like the sirocco wind
   The name of Venezianella is so geyserlike and pealing in his heart that he lashes out
   —Venezianella Venezianella Venezianella where why do you flee from me and why vanish in midair amidst so many of your starlets and stars
   Suddenly he almost slides stumbles with a furtive movement of the pavement which slimy and fleshy escapes from beneath his feet . . . 

Image: Ines Seidel