Between Depth and Surface. Anatomy, Vision and Writing in Valerio Magrelli and Michel Tournier

  • Elena Cappellini
Keywords: Anatomy, Photography, Radiology, Michel Tournier, Valerio Magrelli


At the outer limit of the body, the skin is a threshold between inside and outside, depth and surface, visible and invisible. In his project of integrating psychology and body growth, Didier Anzieu considers the epidermis to be a double-envelope surface, impermeable and porous at the same time, provided with an inner side which encloses the content of the body and records any slight change which occurs in it, and an outer side, a boundary between the body and the world which accumulates the traces left by experience, by the passing of time and by forces acting outside the body. Anatomy becomes a metaphor for writing both in Valerio Magrelli and Michel Tournier. In Magrelli’s Nel condominio di carne, both the image of an eye looking inwards and the X-ray vision become synonyms for introspection and starting point for the development of writing. Tournier’s artistic path, on the contrary, seems to develop along two parallel lines: the refusal of an epistemology of the deep associating interior, secret, truth, and the celebration of surface. The sense of horror aroused by the dissection of interior anatomy, as well as the image of an open window which widens the view onto the external world, overturn the self-perceptive point of view by reversing the direction of sight along which writing unfolds. As Tournier’s sensibility for photography might therefore correspond with the exaltation of externality as well as with his choice of a centrifugal writing, so Magrelli’s radiological interest corresponds with the celebration of depth and with the autobiographical inclination of his poetics.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Elena Cappellini

Elena Cappellini studied at the Universities of Bologna and Siena, where she obtained a doctorate in Comparative Literature and Translation of the Literary Text. She has participated in conferences and published essays on Michel Tournier, the fantastic and the radiophonic, photographic and radiological imaginary.

Femminile plurale. Percorsi tra identità e differenza, Eds. Silvia Camisaschi – Elena Cappellini – Anna Lazzarini, Mantova, Tre Lune, 2003.

“Voci e presenze. Appunti su radio e fantastico”, Intersezioni, XXVII, n. 2, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2007.

“Michel Tournier e la didascalia, tra immagine, realtà e scrittura”, Guardare oltre. Letteratura, fotografia e altri territori, Eds. Silvia Albertazzi – Ferdinando Amigoni, Roma, Meltemi, 2008.

“L’isola, spazio del tempo tra Defoe e Tournier”, Memoria e oblio. Le scritture del tempo, Atti del Convegno annuale dell'Associazione per gli Studi di Teoria e Storia Comparata della Letteratura (Lecce, 24-26 ottobre 2007), Eds. Carlo Alberto Augieri – Niccolò Scaffai, Peter Lang, 2009.

“Fotografie di un corpo invisibile. L’immaginario radiologico nel Novecento”, Intersezioni, XXIX, n. 2, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2009.



Anzieu, Didier, L’io-pelle, Roma, Borla, 1987.

Barthes, Roland, S/Z, Torino, Einaudi, 1973.

Cosmacini, Giorgio, Röntgen, Milano, Rizzoli, 1984.

Freud, Sigmund, L’Io e l’Es (1922), Id., Opere, IX, Torino, Boringhieri, 1977.

Le Breton, David, La pelle e la traccia, Roma, Meltemi, 2005.

Magrelli, Valerio, “Nota alla terza edizione”, Id., Ora serrata retina-e, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1989.

Magrelli, Valerio, Esercizi di tiptologia (1992), Id., Poesie (1980-1992) e altre poesie, Torino, Einaudi, 1996.

Magrelli, Valerio, Nel condominio di carne, Torino, Einaudi, 2003.

Mann, Thomas, La montagna incantata (1924), Milano, Corbaccio, 1992.

Ortel, Philippe, La littérature à l’ère de la photographie, Nîmes, Chambon, 2002.

Tournier, Michel, Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique, Paris, Galli-mard, 1972.

Tournier, Michel, Les météores, Paris, Gallimard, 1975.

Tournier, Michel, Des clefs et des serrures, Paris, Chene-Hachette, 1979.

Tournier, Michel, La goutte d’or, Paris, Gallimard, 1986.

Tournier, Michel, Le crépuscule des masques, Paris, Hoëbeke, 1992.

Tournier, Michel, Le miroir des idées, Paris, Mercure de France, 1994.

Tournier, Michel, Journal extime, Paris, La Musardine, 2002.

How to Cite
Cappellini, E. (2011). Between Depth and Surface. Anatomy, Vision and Writing in Valerio Magrelli and Michel Tournier. Between, 1(1).
Writing and Visions: Threshold Crossings