Iconic and indexical elements in Italian Futurist poetry
This paper offers close readings of canonical works of Italian Futurist visual poetry, focussing on the fusion, for propaganda purposes, of radical forms of visual and acoustic iconicity with politicized modes of indexicality. A detailed contextual interpretation of a milestone iconic-cum-indexical device in F. T. Marinetti’s war epic <i>Zang tumb tumb</i> (1914) serves as an introduction to Futurism’s preoccupation with the advantages of exploiting ingenious new forms of semiosis for their nationalist impact. Subsequent commentaries on four shaped war-poems by Marinetti bring out the variety of ways in which iconic representations of battle experience are harnessed to Italy’s Irredentist and Interventionist causes. The poems’ impressive arsenal of iconic effects is shown to reinforce their indexical function as war-reportage, while Marinetti’s dual authority as renowned modernist poet and eyewitness to a number of historically prestigious battles underwrites Italian Futurism’s patriotic campaign to persuade fellow countrymen to abandon their neutralist stance.