An International ‘Non- <i>revue</i>’: Cultural Conflict and the Failure of <i>Gulliver</i> (1964)

  • Silvia Cavalli Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore


In the early Sixties, the international literary journal Gulliver involved intellectuals of different nationalities: the French Dionys Mascolo and Maurice Blanchot; the German Hans Magnus Enzensberger; the Italians Elio Vittorini, Francesco Leonetti and Italo Calvino. The distances between them were quite obvious from the start. It was not so much a geographical matter as a different conception of literary patterns and commitment. These difficulties worsened after the construction of the Berlin Wall: the urgency of German writers to reflect upon their historical condition collided with the French authors’ preference to represent contemporary society. In their correspondence, the discussions about planning an international journal became more important than actually making an international journal. Therefore, they never managed to reach an agreement on the structure of the journal itself - to the point that Leonetti, in a letter addressed to Vittorini in November 1962, clearly wrote of a ‘non-revue’. Gulliver was a unique experiment; it was published in 1964 as the seventh issue of the Italian literary journal Il Menabò (printed by Einaudi and edited by Vittorini and Calvino between 1959 and 1967). It is, undoubtedly, a failure of cultural mediation. However in the Italian scenario of that time, it represents one of the most relevant attempts to create a cross-border intellectual community, broaden national topics, and gain a European dimension.