Presented at the Narrative Space Conference: University of Leicester, England, April 20, 2010. 31 pages. Conference website: http://www.le.ac.uk/ms/profdev/nspace.html.
In the mid 1980s Italo Calvino gave the Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In his third talk on “Quickness” he explained, “I do not wish to say that quickness is a value in itself. Narrative time can also be delaying, cyclic, or motionless. In any case, a story is an operation carried out on the length of time involved, an enchantment that acts on the passing of time, either contracting or dilating it.” Umberto Eco, a decade later, referenced Calvino in the third of his own lectures at Harvard entitled “Lingering in the Woods.” In that essay, Eco described a number of temporal strategies employed by various authors that explore the pleasures of lingering.
In this short talk, I will show that such temporal tactics described by Eco and Calvino share uncanny similarities to the museum projects of Carlo Scarpa. It is my wager that a careful traveler to Scarpa’s work will inevitably linger. I discuss two museum projects in particular—the extension to the Canova Museum in Possagno and the renovation of the Castellvechio, in Verona—in which Scarpa intentionally offers disruptions in the uniform nature of processional time through the work. Indeed, Scarpa’s work is full of delays, distractions, and redirections that, if followed, present enchanting experiences, not unlike those described by Calvino and Eco in their own work. Thus, I hope to demonstrate that the similarities between architecture and narrative are not only topical, thematic, or even spatial, but temporal as well.