Cesare Pavese’s Il mestiere di vivere: Between the Search for Lost and Dead Time
Inspired by Bergson and Proust, Pavese tries to reconstitute being from childhood through writing. Le métier de vivre is the adventure of an I who writes and its variations linked to time and in time, the story of a solitude and the growing awareness of a destiny that create a second reality and engender myth. For Pavese, the literary work must serve as a source of knowledge, not because it reflects reality but because it constructs another reality, because it is, like À la recherche du temps perdu, a work of language. In Le métier de vivre, suffering occurs on every page: that of a lonely man, disillusioned by impossible love, and that of a solitary poet, more and more demanding in his literary quest. Like Proust, Pavese finds a connection between the process of memory and the creation of the novel: to write is to remember, to revisit the first impressions of childhood, to find a destiny. To recover the past is to recover the self, to give it a sense of being connected to the world, while acting freely. Yet Pavese fails in this quest... The myth ends in scepticism and discouragement. Everything vanishes: years, beings, things. Myth has been renounced and with it have disappeared poetry and the desire to survive. But Pavese’s life gives way to writing – the real life! – which takes the form of Time (finitude and infinity) and which envelops everything, including Le métier de vivre.